Learning How to Multiply

My memory isn’t that great. I’d like to say that’s a function of the aging process but truth is, I’ve never had a good memory. That’s why I try to write everything down- for future reference and reflection. Now, if only I could remember where I’ve put that piece of paper!

On Sunday, after the 9:30AM service, I greeted our music intern, Kim Ness, and told her how much I liked the song she sang. Of course, I couldn’t remember the name of the song I’d liked and the paper where I wrote a note about it wasn’t readily accessible. So with very little information to go on, she just smiled politely and said thank you, all probably while thinking I was just a little odd. And that song I liked so much? I forgot about it.

Until yesterday. I was flipping through my bible, not knowing exactly what I was looking for. I came upon the note I wrote on Sunday’s bulletin. Under the name of the song I couldn’t remember (Oceans by Hillsong United) I saw the words I’d written “trust without borders”. So, I engaged one of my best friends, Google, to find the lyrics to the song. Believe me, I’m so glad I did!

Although I know this very well, I often find myself being reminded of the fact that nothing surprises God. Sure the happenings of everyday life may catch us off guard, but the all-powerful, all-knowing, creator of everything that is- our God, is never caught unaware. I imagine He has a slight surge of excitement when the “unexpected” happens because He can’t wait to see us in action, guide us through the challenges and see us grow in our faith.

Actually, this reminds me of my days teaching 3rd grade. One thing that I absolutely loved about the teaching experience was building competencies and skills in my kids. The introduction of multiplication was always a fun time for me. See, I get that multiplication can be a scary thing for kids. You’re being introduced to a new concept, a whole new set of facts to master and terminology that is foreign. Often when I’d share that we were moving into multiplication, my students were eager because it instantly made them feel older and smarter. The thought of knowing how to multiply made their chests puff out a little. But at the same time there was some uneasiness about this new skill to be mastered.

At the school I worked at we did flexible grouping for math. I usually taught those that were on-grade level and one year taught the below-grade level group. When the time came to introduce multiplication, I whipped out my goldfish crackers. It was time to have some fun!

See, the way I introduced multiplication was through the use of those yummy goldfish crackers, to build arrays. We went step by step to build understanding of what multiplication is- nothing more than repeated addition. I explained how the number of rows and the number of goldfish in a row translated into a mathematical sentence. I’d give the kids a repeated addition math problem, we’d build an array, translate the addition into a multiplication sentence and discuss the process. Once we completed a series of questions successfully, they’d eat their snacks. This process continued for a few days, usually culminating with the use of M&Ms or Skittles as a sweet treat for mastering the fundamentals of multiplication.

What does this have to do with this song that I’m now in love with? Well, I think about how God often works. The same scaffolding provided in the array example is what God does with us. First, just as a child knows they’ll eventually be introduced to more advanced concepts, we instinctively know that challenges will arise in our life. And as the teacher, God has planned for our successful mastery of the challenge. For, everything that we experience up to that point has prepared us for that moment of introduction into something new. He’s ready to provide the tools for success at just the moment we need them. The lessons we’ve learned during our days of “addition” help us as we progress into “multiplication”, which is only the next logical step in our maturation, right?

Once again I am reminded, no matter what happens in my life, big or small, God is already aware and knows exactly what I need to be successful in progressing through it. He’s designed past experiences so that the knowledge and skills that I’d need to apply, develop and refine in this next phase were solidified. Also, He’s prepared to guide me every step of the way through this current situation. I imagine (because I do have a vivid one that may be a bit too much for traditionalists) that just how I used to be giddy with excitement the first day of our lesson on multiplication and smiled at the looks of concern on my students face when they learned that the time had come, that God is just like that with us. He’s thrilled about what’s about to take place. He knows that His child is about to learn something new that will mature him or her and serve as a building block for future learning. Enthusiasm is what I imagine God feels when we reach the threshold of a new valley. For, He’s standing right beside us, ready to usher us into this new place.

I think the reasons that my kids didn’t completely melt down when we learned anything new was that:

1. They understood that I loved and cared about them. I was going to make sure they were okay throughout the process.

2. They trusted me and were willing to let me guide them.

3. Learning is what school is about anyway. Therefore, they weren’t surprised or testy when I announced we were learning something new. They may not have known what was going to be taught but they knew that they would learn.

Isn’t that what our lives as Christians are all about- learning and growing in our walk? God loves and cares for us. He is committed to ensuring we’re okay, especially during the difficult times in life. As the lines in Oceans state,

Your grace abounds in deepest waters

Your sovereign hand Will be my guide

Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me

You’ve never failed and You won’t start now

There is no reason to doubt God.  For, He is there guiding me.  Despite the uncertainty that surrounds me I know that I can trust him because He has never failed me before.  And yes, He won’t start now!

Finally, I go back to that one line that resonated in my spirit on Sunday. “Spirit lead me where trust is without borders.” That is a prayer I’ve prayed for a few months now. Not exactly in those words but with the same intention. I’ve asked God to keep me safe under His wing. For, I want to be so close to Him, so aligned with His will that the only place I can be is safely tucked under His wings of protection. By being fully covered by Him I am submitting to His full authority and declaring, where You take me, I will follow. So, lead me where You’d have me go, teach me what I need to learn next and develop my faith so that doubt is replaced with unlimited trust because I know that even though I can’t see what is next, You can, and it’s guaranteed to be awesome!

Therefore, see this as encouragement for anything you may be going through. God is not surprised at all about what is happening in and around You. He has prepared you for this time in life and will be beside you every step of the way as you multiply your trust and faith. Place your full trust in Him and allow Him to guide you through. I guarantee, He will provide everything you need at just the right time. One day you’ll look back and wonder why you were ever uneasy about learning how to multiply in the first place.

Finding Fruit in Old Town

During the month of July the Children’s and Youth Ministries hosted a series of “Family Fun Nights” on Wednesday evenings. We started the month with an outing at Great Waves Waterpark. Then, we practiced our batting skills at Miracle Field as part of field day activities. Last week about 20 youth and adults took to the lanes at Bowl America, where I wowed everyone with my bowling skills!  This Wednesday we ended on a high note with a photo scavenger hunt. The weather was perfect as our group scouted the neighborhood.

 

The objective was for the team to find the fruit of the Spirit in action in our community. By observing individuals, the group would be able to see the fruit displayed in people’s everyday lives. As you may have read in earlier posts, our children completed an extensive study of the fruit of the spirit in June. This was actually a really good activity to reinforce what they’d learned. This is what the group was directed to do:

 

Rules of Play

  • Take one picture per fruit.  Look for people displaying the fruit as part of their everyday lives.  (Since some were more difficult to find than others, they were allowed to “stage” up to 2 photographs.)

 

Yum, cookies!  It takes a great deal of self-control not to devour these!
Yum, cookies! It takes a great deal of self-control not to devour these!
  • Give the person a “Fruit in Action” card for the fruit they displayed.  Explain to them why their picture was taken.
  • Go anywhere in Old Town to complete the scavenger hunt (walking or driving).

 

The team, made up of children and adults, armed with a digital camera and a lot of excitement, ventured out into Old Town.  Take a look at what they found:

Love!
Love!
A game of volleyball is a joy for these friends.
A game of volleyball is a joy for these friends.
Enjoying the peace of the water at sunset.
Enjoying the peace of the water at sunset.
Kindness:  The children sing "Happy Birthday" and do somersaults.
Kindness: The children sing Happy Birthday and do somersaults.
Goodness: A picnic dinner to celebrate a friend’s birthday.

Using gentleness when petting the dog.
Using gentleness when petting the dog.

 

As you can see, the group found many examples of the fruit of the Spirit Wednesday evening.  As they identified each one, the children eagerly shared what they knew about the fruit of the Spirit with those they met.  Then, they provided a “Fruit in Action” card to each person/group to reinforce how their seemingly normal actions were able to teach us about these virtues.  The card reads:

Fruit In Action Card

Not only did they get to see the practical application of Galatians 5:22-23, they were able to share and encourage others.  One gentleman actually asked for more information about the fruit of the Spirit.  Isn’t that awesome!  The boldness and enthusiasm of our members ushered in an opportunity for others to learn more about our Lord.  Not only was it a great way to spend a summer evening, it may have been just what someone needed to experience.  Perhaps someone needed to be reminded of the Holy Spirit that resides (or wishes to reside) within them.  Or, perhaps someone was struggling with feeling valued, worthy or “good”.  It even could have been an unbeliever that the group met during the activity that received his or her first positive encounter with God through believers.  The possibilities of the impact that was made in Old Town are numerous.  But one thing is evident- His Spirit was present!

Fruit In Action

Photo Credit:  Eat Play Grow blog; http://www.playeatgrow.com/2012/06/grow-fruit-of-spirit-ispeace.html
Photo Credit: Eat Play Grow blog; http://www.playeatgrow.com/2012/06/grow-fruit-of-spirit-ispeace.html

“This week she broke something that was very special to her. Instead of crying about it, she handled it very well. I was very proud of her.”

“Yesterday we were at the park. Then, it started to rain. We had to run to the car. We were soaking wet. It was so much fun!”

“When I hold my baby sister I have to be careful since she is smaller than me.”

These are the words of children and parents at our church, which were shared during our 6-week study of the fruit of the Spirit. Weekly challenges prompted the application of what we learned about the attributes that we should be developing as Christians. Each week, the children returned to the 3rd floor excited to share how they practiced the fruit in their home, school, community and church. Every experience shared was a great example of “fruit in action” in the children’s lives!

If you were given the task to find the fruit of the Spirit in action in your home, school, work, or neighborhood, how would you do? Where do you look for examples of patience? What does faithfulness look like on a busy street corner? How does a Christian show love to a stranger?

Photo Credit: Volunteer Weekly; Source: Volunteer Weekly; http://www.volunteerweekly.org/an-experiment-in-trust/

We’re going to find out next week at our Wednesday Family Fun Night on July 30th! Meet us at Montgomery Park at 6:30PM to get all the rules and details about our Fruit of the Spirit Scavenger Hunt. A little hint- it involves teamwork, a camera (your phone will do the job), a keen focus on finding “fruit in action” and our neighbors here in Old Town. Fun is guaranteed for the entire family as we experience the Spirit at work in our community. Also, you may learn something new about yourself in the process.

RSVP for the activity by contacting the church office (office@downtownbaptist.org).

Maintaining the Magic of VBS

As I reflect on the joys of my childhood summers, Vacation Bible School stands out as one of the biggest highlights of the season. As I recall it, this was the most exciting part of church. When else is there a whole week devoted to all the things kids like- music, arts & crafts, games and great snacks? All of my friends were in one place, the cool adults that loved being around kids were there focused on our enjoyment- What could be better? Then, Friday afternoon (or evening) came, and the energy faded as we transitioned into a “worship as usual” mode.

Last week’s VBS at DBC was awesome! Children from across our community entered with excitement, energy and anticipation. The entire experience, crafted to help children learn more about Jesus and draw closer to God, was executed with their interests and abilities at heart.

A few months ago, I heard a number of statistics about VBS that I was surprised to hear. The one that stood out to me was regarding the large percentage of children that make a decision for Jesus as a result of attending VBS. Wow, this initiative is effective.

So, how do we build upon the success we experienced last week? We have started our morning worship rally at 9:20 each Sunday morning for our children. This is an opportunity for them to get centered and have an age-appropriate praise and worship time. We are looking at firming up the structure and content to build-out a fun, spiritual experience for our children. Through interactive songs and opportunities for personal reflection and worship, we are laying the groundwork for what can be a consistently engaging God-experience that mirrors what they love and crave from VBS- just extended into Sunday morning experiences.

Of course, those that are energetic, creative and have a heart for worship are integral. Therefore, jump right on in and help us grow our children’s ministry into something that values the interests, abilities and dispositions of kids while helping them have authentic and powerful experiences with God.

Continue the conversation by leaving a message about how we can keep the magic of VBS year-round.

Fruit of the Spirit- Patience and Faithfulness

This evening was the final day of our six-week study. We’ve learned a lot during our time together. Just like our individual seeds, we have grown as we practiced and applied what was taught at home, in school and around the neighborhood. Thank you for your support. I hope you will be able to continue the learning at home as you help your child nurture the fruit of the Holy Spirit that is inside of each of them. Also, join us on July 30th when we join with the rest of the church for our “Fruit of the Spirit Scavenger Hunt” at Montgomery Park.

 

What is PATIENCE?

Definition: Putting up with difficult situations without getting angry or complaining.

 

What is FAITHFULNESS?

Definition: Trusting God no matter what, and being someone that others can trust no matter what.

 

Examples of How We Demonstrate Patience and Faithfulness

 

  God Family Friends
Patience Waiting joyfully for God to take care of a hard situation. When your parents tell you to wait to do something, be respectful and listen to them. During a playdate, wait your turn to play with a favorite toy.
Faithfulness Trust in God always because He will take care of you. When given a chore, do it well and completely. Treating your friends fairly and kindly.   They will know that you are someone they can trust.

 

Success Depends on You: Although this series is over your support is still integral in the spiritual growth of our children. Continue to:

  • Pray for each child, parent, family, church member and volunteer.  Ask God to positively change each life through the study of His word.
  • Invest in our children by bringing your child or children to Sunday School, worship service and other church-sponsored events.  Also, reinforce the learning at home.
  • Volunteer at least once a month in some area of the Children’s Ministry.
  • Talk to your child/children about what was learned each time they attend and how it applies to their lives.

 

Questions? Comments? Email me at kspeed@downtownbaptist.org.

Fruit of the Spirit- Developing Gentleness

Today is the 5th of the 6-part series on the fruit of the Spirit.  Our Wednesday evening study has been awesome as the children have learned more about each fruit.  It is fantastic to hear how they are developing these virtues through application in their everyday lives.  It really has been a treat listening to each one explain how they practice the fruit.  The Bible is coming to life through our talks.  If your children aren’t coming- they’re missing some great experiences.  We definitely have fun and enjoy the time together as we learn about what we can do through the Holy Spirit.  Here’s a taste of what you missed.

 

What is the fruit of the Spirit and how is it developed?

In Galatians 5:16-26, Paul shares with us that our sinful nature is constantly trying to overtake the Holy Spirit inside of us. In order to overcome our sinful nature we must grow in those things of the Spirit. We can do so by cultivating the fruit of the Spirit- love, joy, peace, patience, faithfulness, kindness, goodness, gentleness and self-control. In order for our children to nurture the fruit that are growing in them, we must continuously “water” them with the word of God and practice these virtues daily.

 

Fruit of the Spirit Song

Learn the fruit of the spirit by singing along to this fun song. Don’t forget the motions and sound effects! View the video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e47FnjKaT3Q&noredirect=1.

 

What is GENTLENESS?

Definition: Gentleness is a humble, calm attitude. Gentleness is controlled strength- having the ability to hurt someone, but choosing instead to guide them in a nice and non-threatening way that points to God.

 

Examples of How We Demonstrate Gentleness

Family Friends God’s Creation
Babies need to be handled with care. When a friend’s feelings are hurt, speak to them in a kind voice that lets them know that you care about their feelings. Show love to your pets by petting them with a soft and loving touch.

 

Challenge Card

This week’s challenge requires children to record what how they are displaying gentleness. Encourage them to recognize this trait when they display it and capture it on their challenge cards.

 

Fruit of the Spirit Mobiles

This evening we finished our mobiles. They are meant to remind us of each fruit of the spirit. Each fruit is listed and connected by string to an example of how the virtue is displayed. Review this with your child to ensure understanding. Then, find a prominent place in his or her room to hang the mobile. Revisit it often to discuss and reinforce how each is consistently displayed at home, in school, church or the community.

 

Success Depends on You

  • Pray for each child, parent, family, church member and volunteer.  Ask God to positively change each life through this 6-week study.
  • Invest in our children by bringing your child or children to each night of this 6 week study.  Also, reinforce the learning at home.
  • Volunteer at least 1 of the 6 nights of the series.  You can sign-up to help in class as a lead or assistant teacher during the lesson, game time or arts & crafts.
  • Talk to your child/children about what was learned and how it applies to their lives.

 

Questions? Comments? Email me at kspeed@downtownbaptist.org

Kindness and Goodness – Developing Fruit of the Spirit

Kindness and goodness are two terms that we all are quite familiar with.  These are concepts that we learn at early ages and are core expectations in our society.  This week, the children are learning about these virtues in terms of what God expects of us.  Kindness goes beyond being nice.  It means uplifting another, encouraging them and/or making them feel at ease.  I submit that God calls us to go past the common courtesies of our everyday interactions and be deliberate about showing kindness to one another.  Goodness also carries deliberate action with it.  It is a way for us to show God’s love to others by being generous, helpful and doing what is right, even when it isn’t popular.

Below is a summary of this evening’s lesson on kindness and goodness.

 

What is the fruit of the Spirit and how is it developed?

In Galatians 5:16-26, Paul shares with us that our sinful nature is constantly trying to overtake the Holy Spirit inside of us. In order to overcome our sinful nature we must grow in those things of the Spirit. We can do so by cultivating the fruit of the Spirit- love, joy, peace, patience, faithfulness, kindness, goodness, gentleness and self-control. In order for our children to nurture the fruit that are growing in them, we must continuously “water” them with the word of God and practice these virtues daily.

 

Fruit of the Spirit Song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e47FnjKaT3Q&noredirect=1

Sing along with this fun song at home as you help your child remember the fruit of the Spirit.

 

What is KINDNESS?

Definition: Kindness is an attitude that puts others at ease. It is being nice to others and encouraging and uplifting them.

 

Bible verse: “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32

 

What is GOODNESS?

Definition:   Goodness is actively showing that you follow Jesus by being generous and helping others. It means standing up for what you believe in and saying things that need to be said, even if it won’t be taken well.

 

Bible verse: “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9

 

Examples of How We Demonstrate Kindness and Goodness

 

Fruit Family Others
Kindness If your mom or dad has had a hard day at work, tell them how much you love and appreciate them. Help an elderly neighbor by doing chores around their house.
Goodness Be helpful around the house by doing your chores, cleaning up after yourself and chipping in when someone needs help. When a classmate is teased or treated unfairly, stand-up for him or her by telling a teacher or encouraging those being mean to stop.

 

Challenge Card

This week’s challenge requires children to record what they did to display kindness and goodness. Be sure to review the challenge with your child and sign the card when the challenges are completed.

 

 

 

Tonight’s Arts & Crafts Project: Mobiles

This evening we created mobiles to remind us of the fruit of the Spirit. Each fruit is listed and connected by string to an example of how the virtue is displayed. Review this with your child to ensure understanding. Then, find a prominent place in his or her room to hang the mobile. Revisit it often to discuss and reinforce how each is consistently displayed at home, in school, church or the community.

 

Planting Spiritual Seeds

We have a few seeds that have sprouted! Both my seed and Caitlynn’s have grown and are doing well. Each week we are checking the progress. This is a great visual reminder of what is happening spiritually within each of us during this experience.

 

Success Depends on You

  • Pray for each child, parent, family, church member and volunteer.  Ask God to positively change each life through this 6-week study.
  • Invest in our children by bringing your child or children to each night of this 6 week study.  Also, reinforce the learning at home.
  • Volunteer at least 1 of the 6 nights of the series.  You can sign-up to help in class as a lead or assistant teacher during the lesson, game time or arts & crafts.
  • Talk to your child/children about what was learned and how it applies to their lives.

 

Questions? Comments? Email me at kspeed@downtownbaptist.org.