Wednesday, November 6, 2013

WHO DAT?!! - Jesus the Good News

Evangelizing to kids can be difficult.  

Let’s be honest.  

Finding the right illustrations and maintaining the requisite level of attention to be able to convey the truths of the Gospel are things that even the most gifted children’s instructors struggle to accomplish.  But over time and with practice, these become second nature.  We learn to see the Gospel in the little things we encounter with our kids.  A night out bowling is transformed into a lesson on aiming straight at the Lord.  A bike ride through a favorite park initiates reflection on the beauty of creation and the reality of our new life in Christ.  

But that’s just not enough is it...? 

If we are truly to change the entire world for Christ, we must gain access to the hearts of children who we do NOT directly encounter.  

And who can do that better than their peers?  The kids we encounter must become change agents in their own circles.  

This week at Jacob’s Well, we wrapped up our WHO DAT?!! series talking about a not-so-obscure character who happens to be most important of all - Jesus Christ.  

Who is Jesus?  

What did he do for us?  Why?   

Where did he live? 

Most of these questions were answered by the kids with ease.  We threw some lesser known facts in for fun...

What language did Jesus speak?

Did he have brothers and sisters? 

How old was Jesus when he died? 

What are Jesus’ other names? What do they mean? 

That last question was one we spent considerable time on.  In Bible times, the name given to a person said a lot about who they were.  This is why God often changed people’s names when he blessed them or commissioned them to do His work.  

In the beginning of the Gospel of Matthew, it says this:
"But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, 'Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins'" (Matthew 1:20-21)

Jesus had come to Earth to save us from our sins.  His name represented that.  From a number of other verses in scripture, we find that Jesus was also known as Immanuel.  This word, Immanuel, means “God with us”.  Jesus was truly God incarnate, walking among ordinary people like you and me.  

What does this mean to us today?  

It means that we have been sent the answer to our problem.  The evil in the world that so plagues us daily has been forever overcome, forever defeated, by a God who loves us so much as to send His own son into the battlefield.  

Sharing these truths with our youngsters took about 30 minutes.  While their knowledge is in no way exhaustive (not that mine is) or permanently ingrained (repetition is key, folks!), it does give them a base for sharing with others.  

To help them do so, we introduced something called the Gospel Glove.  I am blessed by a newfound friendship wit h another youth worker in Memphis, Lucy Berry, from Downtown Presbyterian who shared this with me.  

Working from pinky to thumb, the Gospel Glove helps to explain that “It only takes a little faith (pinky) to have a relationship (ring finger) with a big God (middle finger) who died for our sins (pointer finger) so we can hitch a ride to heaven (thumb).”

Sophie and Malaysia show off their Gospel Gloves.


Each child decorated a glove to represent this simple presentation of the Gospel.   It has been so fun over the past couple of weeks to see them sharing this with friends and those they encounter in their activities.   

Until next week... I'd love for you to ask some of our kids to share this with you.  As the old adage says "Practice makes perfect." Then let me know how it goes. 

C.

Monday, October 21, 2013

UPCOMING EVENTS

Next weekend will be filled with fun for the kids of Jacob's Well.  Together with Maples UMC, Getwell Road UMC, and Memphis Athletic Ministries (MAM), we will be hosting a Fall Festival!  You can find all the details at our Facebook invite page (CPB Fall Festival).

After the party, we invite you to caravan to worship with the Jacob's Well crew.  Service starts at 6:00!


WHO DAT!? - Young King Josiah

Who me?  Become king?  I would, but...

I'm too busy.
I wouldn't do a good job.
I'm too old.
People won't listen to me.
I'm not smart enough.
You don't want someone like me.
That's too much work.

For Josiah, this sentence ended with "I'm only 8 years old".  In his time, however, becoming King wasn't something you could run away from.  You couldn't opt out of taking the throne.  You were born in.  Sworn into the royal family at your conception.  Think about the magnitude of what happened here.  Josiah, at 8 years of age, was plucked from the playground and placed on the throne.  This wasn't just any throne.  It was in Jerusalem, the holy city, reigning over God's people and the kingdom of Judah.

As the story goes, the people had rebelled against God in the years leading up to Josiah's reign.  His father, King Amon, had driven the country to their spiritual deathbed.  The temple was in shambles.  There were idols of bronze and silver scattered throughout the kingdom.  Altars dedicated to other gods were prominent in their cities.

When Josiah's servant, Hilkiah, found the Book of God's Law in the temple and Josiah read of God's commands, he was overtaken with sorrow for the sad state of his nation.  Josiah, as stated in 2 Kings 22:2, "always obeyed the Lord, just as his ancestor David had done."  Imagine his surprise when he found that what he'd always known to be right was truly counter to what God desired.

This has happened in all of our lives.

We wake up one day and see that the lifestyle we've been living does not line up with God's kingdom vision.  But it's what our family does.  We're successful and loved and accepted.  But we see that it's not what we're called to be.

We realize that the movies we watch, the music we listen to, and the books that we read are not edifying to God.  But they're popular.  They help us to fit in with our neighbors, friends, and coworkers.  It would affect our social lives to change it.

We fight our children's changing attitudes, as they conform to what is socially acceptable among their peers.  The words they use, the attitudes they don, and the trends they follow are simply those which are cool among peers.  They may be outcasted if they attempt to follow a different path.

For Josiah, revelation came through the uncovering of the Book of God's Law.  And he refused to stand stagnantly in his country's sin.  Three things happened:
  1. Josiah asked God to change his heart.  He wanted to understand the ins and outs of what was expected of his people
  2. Josiah cleaned up his act.  He removed all idols and altars from the kingdom that were dedicated to other Gods.  He tore down buildings where pagan events were held.  He met with pagan priests and demanded that they turn their lives over to the Lord.  And he decreed that the land of Judah would, for the first time in many years, would communally celebrate Passover.  
  3. Alex removes the dirt to reveal God's message:
    "We are ALL a part of God's family."
  4. Josiah rebuilt the temple.  Funds were raised, workers were recruited, and plans we drafted.  The temple, the central location for worship, was brought back to life.  Josiah was planning for a future of dedication to the one true Lord.  
Cameron, Terrell, and Diamond work together
to rebuild the temple of God.
So how does this relate to us?  We're not actually being called to become Kings and Queens of nations.  You won't find statues of golden calves sitting on our shelves or altars to Astarte, Chemosh, or Milcom (23:13) lining our streets.  And you definitely don't see us sacrificing our children to such gods (23:10).

But we are called to be a part of the royal family.  God has called us to join the Kingdom movement.  To claim our portion of the land of Judah.  Our inheritance. But many of us are blind to what that truly means.   Like Josiah, we must ask for an awakening of our hearts to God's desires and pray for the courage to clean up and rebuild our own portion of the kingdom.

Josiah began his reformation at 8.  When will you begin yours?

Until next week...Kenbe fo.  Keep strong.

C.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

WHO DAT!? - Baalam's Talking Donkey

Silence.

It's foreign to us.

There's always something.

Coworkers talking.  Children playing.  Traffic noise.  Computer noise.  The TV.  Radio.  Dishwasher.

With all this noise to distract us, it's a wonder we ever expect to hear God's voice at all.

In the Bible, we hear of a man named Baalam who failed to hear God's voice and was enlightened by a very unique experience.  "Who dat!?" you ask.  Well, here's the story...

(summarized from Numbers 22)  Baalam was a prophet recruited by a gang of Moabites to put a curse on God's people.  The recruitment process was initiated by the king of Moab, King Balak, in response to the Israelites setting up camp in the plains of Moab.  The king felt threatened by their presence, as the land of Moab was not rightfully his to begin with.  His army was also not any match for the Israelite army.  And, to top it all off, the Israelites had God on their side.  Maybe cursing them would give Balak the edge he needed to defeat the Israelites and drive them out of the land. 

You would think that responding to a request to hex the people of God because they settled in a land that belonged to them in the first place would be simple.  

Nope.  Not a chance.  No can do.  

Not so easy for Baalam.  Baalam, you must understand, was highly motivated by fame and fortune.  And that is exactly what the King used to lure him in.  Like a dog who knows he shouldn't, but jumps up on the counter for that steak hot off the grill, Baalam joined the motley crew.  

To give him a bit of credit, he did pray to the Lord before embarking on the journey.  The Lord just happened to give him a big "Do not pass go" on the topic of cursing his people, and Baalam sets out, intent on cursing the people anyway.  

Thankfully, our God doesn't give up so easy.  As they set out on the road to the plains of Moab, the Lord sent not one, not two, but three angels to stop Baalam from doing something he would most certainly regret.  Baalam, however, distracted by the task at hand, did not see the angels.

His trusty steed did, though!  (Alright, "steed" may be a bit of a noble name for a donkey, but listen to what this one did!).  For each time the donkey saw an angel, he stopped, dropped, or rolled in obedience to the angel's instructions to abandon the effort.  

And each time, deaf and blind to the presence of the Lord, Baalam beat the donkey and attempted to be on his way.  

At this point, I envision the Lord rubbing His temples, wondering why Baalam has to be so stubborn (As an aside, aren't donkeys supposed to be the stubborn ones...?).  He's at His wits end (obviously only in a matter of speaking, because God's wisdom is infinite and has no end).  How will he ever get this hard-headed man's attention.  

"What have I done to you that you have you beaten me these three times?" asks the donkey.  

Did that donkey just speak?

The shock factor of the scene opens Baalam's eyes to the angel of the Lord, who reveals the evil of his actions.  

I wish we could say this is the last we hear of Baalam and his ignorance, but that is just not the case.  Another story for another day.  

But there are a few important lessons to be learned from the story of Baalam.  As we taught them to the kids this week, they go like this: 

  1. God's people are special to Him.  Don't mess with them. (Which we earlier learned that we are a part of.  Yes!  God has out backs!) 
  2. We must stop and listen for God's voice.
  3. Sometimes listening to God means giving up things we really want.  (In Baalam's case, and many of ours too, this meant the possibility of fame and fortune.)
Our distractions come in many forms - time, money, relationships, material goods, talent, career, etc.  Not a one is as important as following God.  We must remember that.  The voice of the Lord comes as quiet as a small stirring of your heart and as loud as a clanging cymbal.  Both must be recognized.  

Our activities this week didn't warrant the kind of quiet attitude needed for listening to God's voice; however, they sure were fun.  Take a look! 





Thanks for reading!  Check back in a few days for this week's lesson update! Until then...

Kenbe fo.  Keep strong. 

C. 


Monday, September 30, 2013

WHO DAT!? - Benaiah the Lion Slayer

We started a new series!!!

No, it's not actually about football.  Although the name was chosen in the spirit of all the wonderful New Orleans fans we've got hanging around.   

This series, rather, is a tribute to all the lesser known...or typically unknown altogether...characters of the Bible.  We all know the stories of David, Abraham, Paul, Noah, and Mary.  But what about Benaiah, Josiah, Bezaleel, Ehud, or Baalam?  

I believe that every story in the Bible, down to the most minor detail, is important to our understanding of God and our place in His mission.  Over the next six weeks, the kids and leadership at Jacobs Well will be exploring the stories of a few forgotten Biblical characters.  

It all started with Benaiah.

Many of you are now racking your brain in an attempt to draw information pertaining to this name from the recesses of your brain where you store all the Biblical knowledge.  

I found it easier to concede and simply ask, "Who dat?"  

This kids figured it out pretty quickly...



Let me tell you about Benaiah.  

Benaiah was one of King David's top 30 warriors.  Tucked away in 2 Samuel 23:20, there are a few short sentences about him.  "And Benaiah, the son of Jehoiada, was a valiant man of Kabzeel, a doer of great deeds.  He struck down two ariels of Moab.  He also went down and struck down a lion in a pit on a day when snow had fallen."

With that, we have to ask a few questions:
  • What made this Benaiah guy so great?   There had to be many other men who could have accomplished the same task.  
  • Why was he so impressive to David?   It isn't as if the king had few warriors to choose from. 
  • And why did God see to it that he was mentioned in the Bible?  What are we supposed to gain from his story?
I think it all comes down to the reality of the risk he took and the significance of that one single act.

Lions are scary animals.  They're strong, fast, and smart.  And they typically don't play nice with others.   I envision Benaiah sitting at base camp, awaiting some orders from Kind David.  He gets word of a lion terrorizing people and livestock in the city.  They can't have that.  A lion, allowed to run free in their fields, could ruin everything.  It could destroy their livelihood, damage their property, and harm their people.  Most people would run from the problem.  Pack up and move away or hole up until it was safe to come out.  But not Benaiah.  He set his mind to destroying the lion.  

He dug a pit (in the snow remember), maybe placed a nice juicy steak at the bottom, waited for the lion to come, and ssssslllliiiipp!  Gotcha!  The lion was trapped below ground feet below the ground, where he could no longer cause problems for the city.

Benaiah's lions didn't quite look like this, but I couldn't help myself.  Our kids make precious little lions! 







Back to the story...because that isn't where it stops.  Benaiah could not simply leave the threat contained beneath the surface.  No.  He had to destroy it.  The conditions were less than ideal.  Jumping in that pit with the lion was a life or death decision.  The fallen snow was a complication.  Not exactly what Benaiah had planned for his day, I'm sure.  The opportunity was seized, Benaiah dealt with his lion, and he was rewarded with many honors by the King.  

It is easy to make a correlation between this story and what we encounter in our own lives.  Now maybe we don't have lions roaming around in our neighborhoods, harassing our house pets.  (I know I don't at least.) But we do encounter less-than-ideal situations that threaten our comfort, security, livelihood, or character.  Often, it is easy to simply walk away from these.  While this isn't necessarily wrong and may not result in destruction (Benaiah had the situation handled as soon as the lion fell into the pit), walking away also does not result in growth.  We must chase our lions and deal with them appropriately no matter the cost.  When we step out in faith to do so, God receives glory and we are rewarded.  

Our kids practiced chasing down lions.  Check it out!  What you will see is a team of lions (the seated children and our lovely balloon holder, Andrea) cheering against team Benaiah (Sebastian and his teammates who are heard but not seen).  Despite the silliness of the activity, the kids were able to understand the significance of who really comes out victorious in the end.


I really like Sebastian's style here.  Makes me think back to volleyball days.  Coach O always used to say, "Sacrifice your body for the ball!" I think you've got that down Sebastian!  Just like Benaiah, you were willing to take a risk to do what you were supposed to do.

In his book In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day (which I conveniently had sitting collecting dust on my bookshelf thanks to Steve Ward), author Mark Batterson pulls apart this seemingly insignificant passage from scripture.  He sums it up perfectly in this way:

"God is in the business of strategically positioning us in the right place at the right time.  But the right place often seems like the wrong place, and the right time often seems like the  wrong time...Our calling is much higher than simply running away from what threatens us.  We're called to chase lions -- look for opportunities in our problems and obstacles, and take risks to reach for God's best."

Until next week, I encourage each of you to seize the opportunities presented to you.  Chase your lions!

C.



Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The Sword of the Spirit

"Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.  After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.  And the tempter came and said to him, "If you are the son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread."  But he answered, "It is written, 'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.'" 

Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, "If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written, 'He will command his angels concerning you,' and 'On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.'"

Jesus said to him, "Again it is written, 'You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.'"

Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory.  And he said to him, "All these I will give to you, if you will fall down and worship me." Then Jesus said to him, "Be gone, Satan! For it is written, 'You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.'"

Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him. 

Think about this passage.  Jesus, the holy Son of God, who spoke many of the words recorded in the New Testament, returned to ancient scriptures when tempted by Satan.  Would his own words of response to the devil have been foolish or unwise?  Of course not.  Would they have worked to convey his point?  Likely so.  

But the truth is that there is power in the holy scriptures, and Jesus recognized that.  There is power in the transmission of the Word from one to another.  And power to defeat evil and cast out demons through His Word spoken.   

I know what you're thinking..."Jesus was the Son of God.  He knew His dad's old sayings by heart.  He probably could recite them in his sleep."  

It's like me knowing that my dad answers the phone, "Well hello there!" only when a close relative is on the other line.  I've only observed him doing so for the last 25 years of my life.  

Or like the grandkids mimicking Pa's numerous sayings because we're each heard them a million times..."Six one way, half dozen the other." "I eat anything that doesn't eat me first." "Dumber than a box of rocks." "Glad you got to see me."

In fact, it's much like the way that many of us quote a favorite movie or TV show.  I can't count the number of times I have heard Ross from Friends or Jim Carrey or Sai from Duck Dynasty quoted by my friends and relatives.  We didn't learn those sayings without spending substantial time watching them perform.  And the list goes on...but I digress

The point here is that it took rehearsal, repetition, and time for these sayings to stick in our minds.  We did not passively pick them up.  It took even more time for us to understand when to appropriately insert them into conversation to maximum effect.   It required relationship and intimacy with those who spoke them, an understanding of their character, intention, and humor.  So it was with Jesus and Satan in the wilderness and so it is with us.  Jesus didn't inherently know the scriptures.  He was relentlessly dedicated to learning them.  Many times the Bible mentions Jesus retreating to a quiet place to pray and meditate on the scriptures.  This was how he kept his relationship with the Father strong and active.  His father spoke to him through the scriptures and Jesus responded with prayer and praise.

Near the end of the Armor of God passage from Ephesians 6, Paul indicates the importance of the Word in our battle against sin.  With the inclusion of this piece of armor, he is switching gears a little.  To this point, all components discussed have been defensive.  They serve to guard us from the enemy.  This last and final piece - "the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God- is for offense.  

In Hebrews 4:12, it says "For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword." 

It serves to help us fight back against the forces of darkness.  To cut through the lies of the devil and to discern what is the true will of God.

I hope I'm not getting redundant here, but it is important to note that any good swordsman does not become skilled at yielding a sword without practice.  Similarly, we do not become skilled at using the Word of God to further the Kingdom without that same amount of practice.  I encourage each of you this week to dive into the scriptures with the intention of seeing them lived out through your thoughts, words, and actions. 

Mother Nature gave us a break from the heat so we took a break from the water activities.  Check out what we used to learn this week's lesson below.  The kids loved popping balloons to reveal truths regarding statements written on balloons.  (I found the most perfect little cocktail swords to help illustrate the lesson!)  





For those of you interested, I have included a list of statements and related Bible verses at the bottom of this post.  

Keeping with the balloon theme (which wasn't originally intentional, I promise), we ended the night with a balloon sword war. 



 Many of our swords didn't want to stay together, so we got resourceful and used this as an opportunity to review last week's topic - the helmet of salvation.  Aren't they so cute?


Until next week.  Kenbe paw√≤l.  Keep faith. 

C. 



Reveal the Truth Balloon Activity: 

For this activity, a statement was written on each balloon that represented a true or false idea about our lives as Christians.  Inside the balloon was a slip of paper on which was written a scripture that addressed the topic.  One by one, the children were invited to select a balloon and read the statement to the class.  The class then voted on whether or not it was true or false.  After each child had cast his or her vote, the balloon was popped and the scriptural reference read.  Below is a complete list of statements and scripture references used during the lesson.  


If you don’t get caught, stealing is okay.
FALSE: “Do not steal.” (Exodus 20:15)

God only loves you when you do everything right.
FALSE: “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, He sent Jesus to die for us.” (Romans 5:8)

You need to be popular and have lots of toys to be happy. 
FALSE: “God has put more joy in my heart than others have when they receive lots of money and possessions.” (Psalm 4:7)

God doesn’t care what you do with your life.
FALSE: “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord.  Plans to give you a hope and a future.”

Kids can’t make a difference in the world.
FALSE: “Do not let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for other believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, and in purity.” (1 Timothy 4:12)

God is far away and hidden from us.
FALSE: “You will find me when you seek me with your whole heart.” (Jeremiah 29:13)

God does not hear us when we pray.
FALSE: “I love the Lord, for he hears my voice; he hears my prayers.” (Psalm 116:1)

It’s okay to disobey my mom.  She isn’t the boss of me.
FALSE: “Honor your mother and father.” (Exodus 20:12)

God has a big book where he records all the bad things we do.
FALSE: “Love [God] does not keep track of the sins of others.” (1 Corinthians 13:6)

It’s okay to swear and curse.
FALSE: “Stop all your dirty talk.  Say the right thing at the right time and help others by what you say.” (Ephesians 4:29)

Always worry about yourself before worrying about others. 
FALSE: “Consider others more important than yourselves.” (Philippians 2:3)

We are much weaker than the Devil.
FALSE: “The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.” (Romans 16:20)

Love is the most important thing in the world.
TRUE: “Now these three remain – faith, hope, and love – but the greatest of these is love.” (1 Corinthians 13:13)

We can do anything when we have God on our side.
TRUE: “For nothing is impossible with God.” (Luke 1:37)

God will never break a promise He makes to you.
TRUE: “He [God] is the faithful God who keeps his covenant for a thousand generations and lavishes his unfailing love on those who love Him and obey His commands.” (Deuteronomy 7:9)

It is our responsibility to love other people.
TRUE: “Love your neighbor as you love yourself.” (Leviticus 19:18)

We are never left alone. 
TRUE: “He will not leave you nor forsake you.”

There is only one true God.  All our worship should go to Him. 
TRUE: “You shall have no other Gods before me.” (Exodus 20)




Tuesday, September 10, 2013

You Are Saved!

Joe is a hard-working employee at a local shipping warehouse.  Despite years of service, his paychecks still barely serve to pay the bills.  Last week, the boss man called him into his office.  "Joe," he began, "You've been working for me for a lot of years and have come to earn my trust.  I've got a a chance to bring in a bit of extra income on the side, but I need these transactions to fly below the administrative radar.  I've asked you in here to ask if you'd head up these shipments, because I need someone I can trust.  This could mean a promotion, Joe.  Isn't that what you've been wanting?"  It would help relieve some of the financial stress at home, and it's about time Joe be considered for a better position.  What should he do?

Little brother walks in the door crying after his little league game.  It typically takes a lot to rustle his feathers.  "What's up, pal?" you inquire.  "A boy on my football team was picking on me.  He called me a loser and then pushed me up against the fence and hit when I tried to take my place in line."  It's infuriating that anyone would think of touching your brother in a malicious way!  What do you tell him?

Your professor has had a bad day.  He rushes into class, straight out of a meeting with the higher ups.  Although you don't know it at the time, today's been a really rough day for him.  You raise your hand to ask for details regarding an upcoming assignment, unprepared for what will come next.  "Did you even read the syllabus?" he asks.  "You are never going to make it anywhere asking questions like that.  I think it's time to consider another career path...maybe school isn't for you."  You did read the syllabus.  Did you misunderstand something basic?  This has been a tough semester for you.  Maybe you're really not cut out for this stuff.  But it's what you've always felt called to do.  What's the next step for you?

How we respond to attacks like this are dependent upon what we believe about what Jesus has done for us.  The Devil aims to defeat each and every one of us by challenging our belief in the final victory we have in Jesus.  In our passage from Ephesians 6, Paul urges us to "take the helmet of salvation" (v. 17)

It has been proposed that Paul chose to illustrate the importance of our salvation with a helmet, as the helmet protects the head and consequently, the brain as well.  When we fill our minds with the reality of our imminent victory in Christ, we are able to ignore advances by the enemy that aim to destroy our hope and assurance in our skills, acceptance, or personalities.

Charles Hodge, a 19th Century Presbyterian theologian, wrote: "That which adorns and protects the Christian, which enables him to hold up his head with confidence and joy, is the fact that he is saved."

So maybe Joe will never be the richest man on the block.  Maybe he will continue to stand by while others, who are far less qualified, get promoted.  Bypassing this opportunity may cost him his job, but it is the right thing to do in Jesus' eyes.  And ultimately, the money and status won't matter.  Joe has been saved and has a seat reserved for him right beside the most successful leader of the cosmos.

Your first response may be to urge your brother to stand up for himself - not to let anyone push him around like that.  On second thought, however, you realize that a more peaceful response shows greater strength that fighting back.  "Buddy, you say, you have been saved by the most wonderful person in the whole world, Jesus Christ.  He's always fighting for you.  You have no need to fight for yourself.  You are not a loser.  In fact, when Jesus comes back, we will all stand together in victory over all the mean and hurtful people of the world."  

And maybe you won't complete this course at the top of your class.   Maybe you won't get the best letter of recommendation or be the top hire.  But you have been saved by the creator of the universe, and His approval is much more valuable than than of any professor's.  As long as you are following the Lord's leading, your next step can't be wrong.

The kids learned this lesson (albeit a much abbreviated version) this weekend through another WATER ACTIVITY!!!  (No relief yet from this heat, so I figure why not keep 'em coming!?).  When we don our helmets of salvation, we are reminded that we are saved.  Our minds fill with the truth that we cannot be beaten and we become more confident, joyful, and bold in our Spirit-led endeavors.  Check out the pictures below.  The kids can be seen filling their team's mind (the bucket) with the belief that they are saved (the water).  Maybe a bit disconnected, but they seemed to get the gist.





Next week, the sword of the Spirit - our offensive strategy.  Stay tuned!