Get Ready!

New Thing

Often a new year brings with it renewed hopes and dreams and optimism for the year ahead.  Refreshed and energized, we are excited about what lies ahead.  Now that 2018 is here, I am PUMPED!

 

For some months now I have sensed that the Spirit is up to something at Downtown Church.  There are indicators all around us – spirit-filled worship, thriving ministry to our neighbors and growing table groups.  Specifically in the Children’s Ministry, there’s excitement about learning about God.  Kids are eagerly pursuing opportunities to participate in worship (both Children’s Church and our corporate worship service).  Friendships are nurtured, even with our youngest ones, due to the time they spend together learning about God and also doing life together during the week.

 

On the last Sunday of December I had the opportunity to bring the message.  I spoke about our God, The Promise Keeper.  Often when I have the chance to preach, what I share is simply a debrief of what I have wrestled with personally with God.  I deliver from a place of personal experience and share what I’ve learned as a result of that wrestling.

God has made several promises to me personally.  Some have come to pass.  Others are undeniably in process.  Others, I know he spoke them.  But it is hard to see how or when they will materialize.  With those, I simply hope and trust as I am awaiting the fulfillment.  For our ministry to children at Downtown Church, I know he has made a promise and am excited about us being able to join together with him in the work of accomplishing it.  The promise is for a revamped ministry that seeks to strengthen the entire family through discipleship and, for our kids, a new approach to Sunday mornings.

 

A few days ago, I was prompted (by the Spirit) to turn to Isaiah 43:18-19 because I heard the words “I’m doing a new thing”.  A familiar passage, I approached reading it with expectancy, to get a specific word regarding our ministry to children.    After reading the KJV I transposed it into a direct word for me.  Here’s what I received:

 

“Do not commemorate or consider the former things nor discern the things of the past.”  Pause. 

There were some great ministry and mission opportunities at Downtown over the past few years that strengthened and equipped families.  There were great programs and curriculums that helped kids learn and bury the word in their hearts.  In the past 12-18 months there have been some creative experiences that have drawn our kids hearts closer to Jesus.  Yet, the things of the past aren’t going to sustain us moving forward.  Surely they can inform our future ministry but they can’t be the benchmarks of success for the future.

 

“Look!  I will do a fresh thing, now it shall sprout up and grow; shall you not recognize it?”

Pause.

It’s coming!  So we need to get ready for this fresh, new thing that will grow.  In a few weeks the congregation will consider 3 goals for this year.  One of which is a focus on strengthening the family.  This is new in that our ministry to children, at least since I’ve been here, has not intentionally sought to disciple and equip families.  With this new focus, let’s prepare our hearts to receive it and then mobilize to determine how to realize it.  This requires open minds, a willingness to dream and attentiveness to his voice.  In order to nurture the “sprouting up” and growth, we’ll need to work cooperatively for his kingdom and his glory.

 

This passage is a great promise.  But for me, the next part is when it gets good!  Now, if you know me, you may be surprised to know I’m a shouter.  In certain worship experiences, my nephew sometimes looks at me and wonders if he needs to let me past so I can run in the aisles.  That’s just how joyful I can get when I think about the goodness of the Lord, his love and his blessings.  (But mind you, I typically stay in my little area and just shout there, lol.)  Anyways, this is where I’d insert a shout because of the continuation of his promise:

 

“I will even make a path in the wasteland and a stream in the wasteland.”

Final Pause.

What a promise!  Not only will he do a fresh thing in and through us he has promised a path and a stream.  The path is the route we will travel together into a thriving, holistic ministry to the family.  In order to travel this route, I believe it will require us to maintain a learner mindset while remaining true to the core goal of strengthening our families.  This route will allow freedom to think creatively, try new things and collaboratively travel forward together.  I picture us as a group knit together, bound by a common goal, but also genuinely relating in the process to strengthen one another and grow together in love.

 

Coupled with this path in the wasteland is a stream, or river.  Rivers are sources of life.  For they support seeds growing into sustainable vegetation.  Rivers support growth of communities allowing their inhabitants to prosper.  Think about early civilizations that were situated by rivers.  Commerce and trade succeeded.  There was life and innovation.  I believe our rivers can do the same, providing richness to our church and community through ministry that builds up individual family members, as well as the whole family.  As families grow and are strengthened, the entire community benefits.

The Bible talks about “rivers of living water”, referencing the pouring out of the Holy Spirit.  This fresh, new thing, is only possible through the work of the Holy Spirit.  My prayer is that each of us individually are being filled to overflowing with his Spirit.  I also pray that collectively we are guided by this same Spirit and that he works mightily through us for his glory.

 

I am ready for this “new thing”.  Won’t you join me?

 

P.S. What new things are you expecting God to do in your life in 2018?  Share so we can join you in celebration of what’s to come and pray with you throughout the journey.

 

 

 

 

 

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Advent 2017

Did you get your family’s Advent Sack last Sunday, December 3rd?  If not, pick one up this Sunday.  (They will be outside your child’s classroom.) 

Advent Sack

Inside you will find items to support your at-home family devotions.  As your family journey’s through the story of our Savior’s birth this month, our prayer is that you will find renewed joy and wonder in the plans of God.  Your Advent Sack includes:

  • Advent Calendar with Bible Verses for each day of December created by Place of My Taste

 

Also, mark your calendars so you don’t miss any of the great events happening this month!

Parents’ Night Out
Saturday, December 9th
5:00 PM – 8:00 PM
For kids 3 – 11 years old. Welcome the holiday and winter season with fun winter stories, games and crafts. Pack a dinner for your child to eat in the Kids’ Lounge. $20 for first child, $10 each additional sibling. For more info and to register, visit http://www.downtownbaptist.org.

Birthday Party for Jesus
Sunday, December 17th
11:00 AM – 12:00 PM
Kids will enjoy Christmas carols, fun activities, cake and punch while parents attend worship service.

Christmas Art Show
Sunday, December 24th
10:00 AM
Kids will share the story of the birth of Jesus through artwork. Be creative! Make a nativity scene diorama, paper Advent wreath, star ornament…the possibilities are endless. All artwork will be on display in the Fellowship Hall on Christmas Eve during our morning service.

Christmas Eve Services
Sunday, December 24th
10:00 AM –  Cocoa, Coffee and Carols in the Fellowship Hall (with breakfast treats); Children are encouraged to participate in this service.  See what “church jobs” (that’s what we call them in Children’s Church!) are available here.
5:30 PM – Candlelight Service in the Sanctuary
*childcare for babies and toddlers will be available at both services

Merry Christmas from Downtown Kids!

Suit Up and Stand Firm!

SuitUp_Logo

We just finished our 7 week study of Ephesians 6:10-17, learning about the full armor of God.  Kids had a great time memorizing the memory verse, demonstrating how to stand firm in the different pieces of armor and discussing what each piece represented.  As a reminder to always be prepared and to suit up daily, Mr. Tommy joined Mrs. Brandy and Mrs. Jody for the last lesson.  Mr. Tommy shared something special, which he always keeps in his pocket, an armor of God challenge coin.  He shared with kids that it is a constant reminder about truth, righteousness, gospel of peace, faith, the Spirit/God’s Word and salvation.  Each child received his or her own challenge coin to help them remember to stand strong, along with a bookmark with the whole passage written out.

CC

 

If you missed last Sunday, here’s the Weekly Newsletter.  Also, be sure to get your Suit Up gift bag the next time you’re at Downtown Church!

 

 

Suit Up!

SuitUp_Logo

“The Armor of God” Children’s Church Series

October 15th – November 26th!

 

Over 7 weeks, kids will learn about the Armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-17).  During our study kids will:

 

·       Learn what each piece of the armor is and why it is important

·       Understand how each piece helps them to stand firm at home, in school and at play

·       Learn movements to help them memorize Ephesians 6:10-11 (if you’re child is up for the challenge, they can memorize all the way through verse 17)

 

 

Each week they will bring home a take-home sheet that reviews the main point on that Sunday’s lesson and a “Live It Out” challenge.  They will also practice their memory verses and have a buddy to pray for during the week.  Check out the take home sheet(s) below:

Weekly Newsletter 11.12.17

Weekly Newsletter 11.05.17

Weekly Newsletter 10.22.17

Weekly Newsletter 10.15.17

Check out the intro video that we are watching in Children’s Church, helping us understand each part of the armor.

 

Special Thanks!

Thanks to our adult volunteers that will help bring this important topic to life for your kids.  We always have room for more, so if you’d like to join us in serving one Sunday, let me know!  I’d love to share details about how you can begin serving with us.

 

Upcoming Children’s Church Studies:  In case you’re curious, here’s a look at other studies coming up in the next few months.

·       Songs of the Christmas Story, Dec. 3 – 17 (family services on Dec. 24 and 31)

·       Kids’ Travel Guide to the Parables, Jan. 7 – Mar. 25

The Relationship Continues (Day 5 of VBS)

VBS is just one week away!  Thank you for your commitment to sharing the gospel with the kids in our community.

 

By the end of the week I will share the final schedule and an up-to-date count of how many kids we have registered in each of our groups.  If you are available, please join us for one of the “Decorating Days”.  We’ll be decorating classrooms and hallways this Saturday, 9AM-3PM, and Sunday after service.  If you have any space-themed decorations, feel free to donate them.  Also, we appreciate any clear Christmas lights you can spare for the week.  This will help create starry skies around the building.

 

VBS t-shirts should arrive this Thursday.  They are $10 each.  If you didn’t get a chance to order a t-shirt I did order extras.  Also, if you ordered but didn’t pay, you can do so by cash or check on Sunday.  Please pick-up your shirt in the Fellowship Hall after service and then wear it on Monday, the first day of VBS.

 

This year we are using the daily offering to support a project called “Sweet Cases”.  You can learn more about it here:  https://youtu.be/jsGIGtBdUBI.  Our goal is to raise at least $250.  This will allow us to purchase 10 duffle bags for children in foster care.  I encourage you to consider also giving to this project.  Offering will be collected each morning during our opening Worship Rally.

 

Some essential details about this year’s VBS:

 

Dates:  July 10-14

Theme:  Galactic Starveryors:  Discovering the God of the Universe

VBS Scripture:  He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.  For everything was created by Him, in heaven and on earth, the visible and the invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities: all things have been created through Him and for Him.  Colossians 1:15-16 (HSCB)

VBS Motto:  Searching the Visible.  Discovering the Invisible.

 

If you missed any of the previous week’s overviews you may view them here:

Day 1: The Relationship Began

Day 2:  The Relationship Broken

Day 3:  The Restoration Promised

Day 4:  The Relationship Restored

 

Day 5:  The Relationship Continues (John 21:1-19; Acts 1:4,8)

Big Idea:  Some days after God raised Jesus from the dead, He met some of the disciples at the Sea of Galilee.  Jesus prepared breakfast for the disciples.  He restored Peter’s relationship and instructed Peter to take care of His sheep.  Jesus told the disciples to wait for God to send the Holy Spirit so that God would always be with them to help and to guide them.

 

Reflection:  For the last 4-6 weeks, the elementary-aged children have been studying the book of Acts.  They are learning about how people preached, healed and loved in Jesus’ name.  In a time and place where these actions could lead to persecution and death, Christians shared the gospel despite the dangers associated with it.  Peggy Hinshaw has encouraged our kids to talk a lot about how we can share the good news with others.  Our VBS Mission Project this year will help us to share the love of God and a message of hope and perseverance with others at a very challenging time in life.  Children will be able to experience first-hand how we can share our faith and a message of love with those in need.

 

This Week’s Prayer Calendar:

  • Monday, 7/3: Pray for this year’s VBS mission project, “Sweet Cases”.  Ask that kids will respond to the call of helping others in need.
  • Tuesday, 7/4: Pray for the children that will receive a “Sweet Case”.  May the love of God be shared through these duffle bags.
  • Wednesday, 7/5: Thank God in advance for the blessings and opportunities He will provide through VBS.
  • Thursday, 7/6: Ask God to continue to develop the knowledge He has given us through His power.  2 Peter 1:3
  • Friday, 7/7: Ask God to bless the children that will participate in the afternoon enrichment program as they grow as young engineers.
  • Saturday, 7/8: Pray for the leaders of the afternoon enrichment program.  Ask God to prepare their hearts with his love.
  • Sunday, 7/9: Ask God to help our church maintain a safe learning environment for our kids.

The Relationship Restored (VBS Day 4)

If you missed any of the previous week’s overviews you may view them here:

Day 1: The Relationship Began

Day 2:  The Relationship Broken

Day 3:  The Restoration Promised

 

Day 4:  The Relationship Restored (Mark 15:22-16:7)

Big Idea:  Jesus literally was Immanuel – God with us.  When Jesus was 33, He was put on trial, convicted of sins he did not commit, and hung on a cross to die.  When Jesus died darkness covered the land and the veil in the temple was torn in two.  Jesus was buried and on the third day he arose.  Jesus provided the way for our relationship with God to be restored.

 

Reflection:  Jesus was not just another good man that lived.  No, he was God in the flesh.  He came so that we might have an opportunity to enjoy a restored relationship with our heavenly father.  This relationship is one characterized by salvation, fellowship and communion, and yielding to God’s authority in every area of our lives.  Because of what Jesus did – dying for our sins, defeating death and the grave and rising on the 3rd day, we can have a relationship with God.  Because God loved each of us so much, he made it possible for us to be reconciled and have a relationship with him!

 

Salvation through Jesus is a precious gift.  It is one we can’t earn nor buy.  God thought each of us were worth the sacrifice in order to restore the relationship he designed for us to have with him.  That is just how important you are to him.

 

This Week’s Prayer Calendar:

  • Monday, 6/26: Pray that God will strengthen all the children and workers to follow the plan he has for them.  Philippians 4:13
  • Tuesday, 6/27: Ask God to keep discouragement from interfering with his plan for DBC’s VBS.  2 Corinthians 4:16-18
  • Wednesday, 6/28: Thank God for sending the Holy Spirit to be our counselor.  Ask that kids will hear his voice guiding them.  John 14:26*
  • Thursday, 6/29: Thank God for telling us what is good and for the ability to trust him in all things.  Micah 6:8
  • Friday, 6/30: Pray that the VBS Celebration provides a witnessing opportunity with parents and the community.
  • Saturday, 7/1: Ask God to help our church remember his plans are the ones that will prevail.  Proverbs 19:21
  • Sunday, 7/2: Ask God to bless the follow-up efforts to contact all prospects and invite them to join other church activities.

The Restoration Promised (Day 3 of VBS)

If you missed any of the previous week’s overviews you may view them here:

Day 1: The Relationship Began

Day 2:  The Relationship Broken

 

Day 3:  The Restoration Promised (Isaiah 7:14, Matthew 1:18-24, Luke 2:22-38)

Big Idea:  Before sin entered the world, God had a plan to fix everything sin would mess up.  In Isaiah, God promised to send the Messiah.  When the time was right, God sent Jesus to pay the penalty for sin.  Simeon and Anna recognized that Jesus was the Messiah God had promised.

 

Reflection:  Romans 3:23 clearly states that everyone has sinned.  Our sins separate us from God.  On Day 2 kids will learn about the consequences of sin and how man’s relationship was broken when Adam and Eve disobeyed God.  Yet, God is loving, gracious and merciful.  Because he loves each of us so much he has provided a way for our relationship to be restored.

Hundreds of years before Jesus was born, prophets foretold his birth.  The means by which man would be able to enjoy a restored relationship with our creator was promised and when it came to pass many were able to see the promise realized.

 

God keeps his promises!  It may not come within a timeframe and/or manner we expect.  But rest assured he will keep his promises.  Are there any promises he has given you that you are waiting to come to fruition?  Stay encouraged, our Lord doesn’t break his promises.  In due time it will come.

 

This Week’s Prayer Calendar:

  • Monday, 6/19: Ask God for creativity and patience for those working in the crafts rotation.
  • Tuesday, 6/20: Ask God to help the kids know that his plan is for them to have a relationship with Jesus.  Jeremiah 29:11
  • Wednesday, 6/21: Think God for His gift of eternal life and for the children who will receive that gift at VBS.  Romans 6:23
  • Thursday, 6/22: Thank God that if we are in Christ, He does not count our trespasses against us.  2 Corinthians 5:19a*
  • Friday, 6/23: Pray for the leaders who are preparing snacks each day. Ask for a special blessing on all the snacks prepared and the workers.
  • Saturday, 6/24: Thank God for the strength he provides to deal with any needs that may arise during the week.
  • Sunday, 6/25: Pray for those who lead music and the Worship Rally.  Ask God to give them energy that will excite kids to learn through music and drama.