Friday, December 21, 2012

Advent: God With Us

Advent: God With Us on Vimeo:

Christ is coming. He has come, and He will come again. 
This is the message of Advent.

Advent: God With Us from The Village Church on Vimeo.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

iPad App Helps Children with Special Needs

Watch this video. An  iPad App Helps Children with Special Needs to communicate.

Friday, August 31, 2012

The Story of the Gospel

This is a striking visual of the Gospel Story!

Helping Kids and Families to Know and Grow in God's Story!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

My Favorite Bibles for Children

I believe it is very important for parents to claim the truth that no one has greater influence in your child's life that you do, and when parents intentionally make time to read God's Story with their children, then you are shaping their lives to living out God's Story today.

Here are a few of my favorite Children's Story Bibles.  Perhaps it's time for you and your family to begin a new pattern of unplugging from a busy technology filled day before bed and reading God's Story, or maybe you  need a fresh new perspective into God's Story for your family.  Whatever your situation may be, consider reading God's Story with your kids this year.  I believe that when you express value and love for God's Story and His Word, your kids will begin to grow in and love God's Story and Word too.

The Toddler's Bible [Hardcover]

V. Gilbert Beers (Author)
The Toddler's Bible

The Beginner's Bible Deluxe Edition: Timeless Children's Stories (Beginner's Bible, The) [Deluxe Edition][Hardcover]

Kelly Pulley (Illustrator)
The Beginner's Bible Deluxe Edition: Timeless Children's Stories (Beginner's Bible, The)

My First Hands-On Bible [Hardcover]

Group Publishing (Producer), Tyndale (Producer)
My First Hands-On Bible

The One Year Bible for Children (Tyndale Kids) [Hardcover]

Gilbert Beers (Author)
The One Year Bible for Children (Tyndale Kids)

The Jesus Storybook Bible Deluxe Edition [Deluxe Edition] [Hardcover]

Sally Lloyd-Jones (Author), Jago (Illustrator), David Suchet (Narrator)
The Jesus Storybook Bible Deluxe Edition

The Children's Bible Story Book [Bargain Price] [Hardcover]

Anne de Graaf (Author), Jose Montero (Author)
The Children's Bible Story Book

The Action Bible [Hardcover]

Doug Mauss (Editor), Sergio Cariello (Illustrator)
The Action Bible

Wednesday, August 15, 2012


Naaman Healed of Leprosy

2 Kings 5:1-19

07222012 9am message video from Community Fellowship Church on Vimeo.

Naaman: (attending to his Garden/Plants while whistling or humming, Naaman realizes that he is no longer alone)

Oh … hello. My wife mentioned that we might have some guests stopping by for a bit. Welcome … to our Garden. Well it is hardly a garden. Honestly, I’m not much of a gardener – never really was – in fact my life today is far different than the life that I once knew.

O where’s my manners? I haven’t introduced myself. I’m Naaman. I am the Commander of the King’s Army in Syria. The King’s Champion. I worked very hard to be a great leader for my men, and gained their respect as a valiant warrior. My men would follow me anywhere – especially into battle because I knew we would be Victorious. I often felt something supernatural was with me as we went into battle, and my army was continually victorious.

So this is my garden. It may be hard for you to see but this plot of dirt is really the primary reason why I come out to this garden. I don’t grow anything in it … But it is very special to me. Would you like to hear the story of how this Dirt came to me and in now in my Garden?

Well … let’s see … yes,
It all started when I was leading a company of my men, and we were given orders to raid a small village in Israel. We followed our battle plan perfectly and completely crushed them. As I rode around the village surveying our grand victory ---

I saw a little girl. I looked into her big brown eyes, - There was something… different about her. Something captivating. She did not shy away but rather look straight into my eyes. I did something a rarely do. I thought of my wife while I was on the battlefield. She so longed for a little girl to be in our home. And so I brought This little girl home to her and she served my wife and family well.

Sometime later, I developed a skin disorder which became progressively worse and turned into Leprosy! I was completely devastated! Do you know about Leprosy? It is a horrible skin disease that damages nerves and skin. It causes sores and terrible deformities that would eventually lead to my death … and the worst part was that there is no cure for leprosy.

I couldn’t believe that it had happened to me. Leprosy? I was the King’s Champion! I was powerful and Strong – a Valliant Warrior, Commander of the Army, a Man of Position and Status.

Leprosy? My life was over!

I was about to lose everything.

· Trust of my King

· Respect of my men

· My Position Status

· rugged Good looks – become this gross hideous thing

· Friendships with the Elite of Society

· Even the relationships with my Wife and Family would never be the same.

There was NO Hope! I went to more doctors than I could count. I tried all kinds of crazy ointments and lotions, but my disease was only getting worse.

I remember the day when we could no longer keep it a secret. My wife was taking it particularly bad – we all were. The little servant girl for Israel was attending to my wife, she cared so deeply for me and my wife and wished that I could go see the prophet who lived in Samaria. She said that God’s prophet could heal me. The very fact that this young servant girl wanted me to be healed was amazing and it revealed the true nature of her heart. Amazing love. It also showed that she wasn’t bitter and full of resentment for what I did to her home. Otherwise, she would have jumped up and down with glee and hoped that I would spread his leprosy to all of Syria. But she was not like that … she was a true servant. She was dedicated to serving her master in any way that she could. Truly a Compassionate little girl.

The truth is…I needed a miracle! There were no other options. None of my gods could cure me. But I was willing to try anything or anyone’s god for that matter. Perhaps this little servant girl’s God could actually heal me? And maybe for the first time, I realized what that “special something” was that that Little Girl’s had. It was strength, courage, Faith in her God. She Cared so deeply for me and my wife.

My wife was astonished at what the little girl said, and wasted no time repeating the servant girl's words to me. A cure had been found.

So I went to the my King and repeated the young girl's message. My king was so eager to get his Champion back that he said “Go Now! And I will write a letter to the King of Israel.”

I took the letter and put together the gifts as payment for the miracle. WE loaded up the Mules camels and chariots with a lot Silver Gold and sets of Clothes. Let’s just say it was a lot! 2-3 million dollars your money today.

Once we had everything packed up … we hit the road. We were going to see the King of Israel. It was quite a caravan. Mule after mule after mule loaded down with gold and silver. Surrounding the mules are the horses and chariots and my men from the King’s army. The king of Syria is not going to take any chances of having an enemy capture all that gold. Behind them are the supply wagons carrying the food and supplies necessary to feed all those men and animals.

WE met with the King of Israel. But it didn’t go so well. The King of Israel read the letter and tore his royal robes. He could not believe what he had just read. He grew more and more angry.

There was obviously no cure for leprosy and the King of Israel was very much aware of that fact. Only God could cure leprosy and the King of Israel was not God. He was convinced that we were trying to provoke a war and kicked us out of the palace.

I remembered what the little servant Girl had said. It was NOT the King but the Prophet of God who could cure me. It wasn’t too long after that that the Prophet Elisha heard what had happened in the King’s thrown room. And He sent word to the King to send us to his house near the River Jordan.

When we arrived, I waited for the prophet to come outside. My expectations were high, and could barely keep it together. What will the prophet do? What will he say? Will he be flashy and glittery with a fancy expensive haircut slicked back like the faith healers back home? Will he put on a show to awe us with his power? The Door started to open. Ready! Lights! Cameras! Action! I could hardly wait.

Elisha never came outside. He sent his messenger. Can you believe that? No show, no spectacle, no prophet, no flowing robes, just a servant. Worse yet, it was a servant with a message to go wash seven times in a muddy Jordan river. The door closed leaving me speechless.

I was in shock and beyond disappointed. I was furious! All I wanted was to be healed, I needed a Miracle! Instead I was accused of wanting to start a war and now I was shown utter disrespect by this prophet. What kind of Prophet is this? Didn’t He know who I WAS!!?!

I remember thinking “How dare Elisha send a servant out to tell me to wash in that filthy river!” What was wrong with the clean rivers back home? I deserved better treatment than that! I deserve to be cured my way!

I completely worked myself into a rage and left Elisha's house. Even the powerless shamans back home at least knew how to put on a good show. I felt cheated. Worse than that I felt defeated, and that was something I didn’t like and wasn't used to feeling.

Why wash seven times in a filthy muddy river when I could get cleaner by just washing once in the waters at home? I thought the whole trip had been a complete waste of time.

I was going Home and in that awkward … Angry … Silence, (have you ever been there?) and I began thinking … about my wife, our little servant Girl and that I was still a Leper … When I heard a voice. It was my closest attendant. He spoke with great clarity. “Master, If the prophet had asked you to do something great, you would have done it, right? So why not do something simple like wash in a muddy river and be cured of your leprosy? What could be easier?” Hmm, he was right.

I took a deep breath and I swallowed my Pride. What did I have to lose? I only had everything to gain. So I decided to trust this Prophet and His God.

When I reached the banks of the river and my men all watched as I humbly got down out of my chariot and waded into the muddy water. God must have been smiling as I began to dip under the water. You know, Something Amazing started to happen,- with each dip in the water my pride, arrogance and anger were literally washing away downstream.

6 times I went into the water and When I came up out of the water on the seventh time, It was GONE! The leprosy was GONE!! I was clean, totally and completely healed. My flesh had been restored like the flesh of a little child. Splashing like a fool! And dragging my men in that wonderful muddy water!

I ran back to the Prophet Elisha's house! What a Glorious Day! What a Wonderful God! I have to admit that I ran right up to Elisha and gave a Big Ol’ Undignified HUG … In front of my men even, boldly proclaimed, “I know that there is no God in all the earth but in Israel” Then I offered Elisha all the gifts we brought. – Silver, Gold and Clothing! But He wouldn’t take them. Not one coin - Nothing!

We were about ready to load up and head home, when I had an idea. I ask to Elisha, Could I take some dirt? As much as 2 Mules could carry? I wanted it As a reminder of what just happened to me (How God miraculously Healed me in the muddy waters of the Jordan river) but more importantly so that I could have a place at home where I can meet with One True God and worship Him.

So this is it … My plot of Dirt … (Grab a hand full. Smell it!) I come here every day to worship The One God who:

· Used a little Servant Girl and her Huge Faith and to Boldly showed me How Great and Mighty and Awesome He really is.

· Heals in the simplest and most profound ways. From the inside out. I am a different man today.

· Gives Second chances to people like me – Angry, Stubborn, Selfish, Arrogant, people. So that we can experience the true power of Grace, Mercy, and Humility.


This is why this small plot of dirt is so precious to me. It’s where I meet with my God!

Would you Stand and Join me by removing your sandals to worship the One True God on this Sacred Ground?

“Almighty God, maker of Heaven and Earth, hear your humble servant. In Your Mighty Power you used a little servant Girl and an absent prophet to humble this Proud Man. O Lord, I am so grateful that you chose Me. You chose to pour out your love and Grace over me. You changed my life and restored me to LIFE! “

You are Truly a Wonderful GOD!

SING: Wonderful God and You Never Let Go

Come to the Cross:

There is no God in all the earth but the One True God and sent His Son Jesus Christ to this earth to restore you to Life! Is God doing something in your heart? Come to the Cross and meet with God this morning in prayer. There will be people to pray with you and encourage you this morning!

Before Naaman left for Home, Elisha spoke these final Words of blessing, “Go in Peace!”

Now … Go in Peace!

Friday, June 08, 2012

Lesson from the Lawn

A wise man once told me, "It's good to change your mowing pattern, if you want a better looking lawn."  I have to be honest and admit that I didn't really get the message when I first heard this instruction/advice as a teenager.  But at almost 40, I think I finally understand what he was telling me.

This week, I pulled back on the cord of my Briggs & Stratton powered lawnmower, remembered these words and began mowing my lawn in a different pattern.  Lawn care experts out there will tell you to change the pattern of your mowing weekly to prevent wear patterns or ruts and so that your grass won't lay in one particular direction.  Ultimately, you want your lawn to grow straight up, stand tall, and be dramatically vibrant and green, without rut or patchy spot.

I pondered as I forged a new pattern in my lawn that there also is benefit in changing the patterns in my life.

Romans 12:2 tells us to "...Not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is — his good, pleasing and perfect will. NIV

It is so easy to fall into repetitive, comfortable  patterns in our own lives or to live mindlessly by the patterns of the culture around us.  The patterns of this world are seductive, tantalizing, mindless and tend to be the default of many-- even those who call themselves Christians.  The patterns of this world are also almost always self-centered, or self-focused...which will eventually wear you down...and do damage to the lawn of your life.

Is your life showing signs of wear?  Perhaps it's time to renew your pattern, renovate your mind and reset your life to the pattern of God's Will -- His good, pleasing and perfect will.

Thanks, Dad for the instruction and wise advice!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Life & Character of a Father

A friend of mine, Mathias John (M.J.) Seiwert III, who is the Middle School Director at Christ Church in Lake Forest, IL recently experienced the passing of his father from this life to the next.  MJ loved and admired his Dad.  

As a Dad, I found the relationship that MJ had with his father not only to be heart warming and encouraging, but challenging and inspiring.  I so want the character of my life to be completely shaped by my Creator so that those around me (my wife and children) and the people I cross paths with everyday will be profoundly impacted by how God and His Grace has crafted me as a man, husband and father.  I hope MJ's reflections of his father will encourage, challenge and inspire you to grow a deeper relationship with your Heavenly Father.

Reflections On My Dearly Departed Dad...
by Mathias John Seiwert on Saturday, May 19, 2012

"Even to your old age and gray hairs I am He, I am He who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you. I will sustain you and I will rescue you." ~ Isaiah 46:4 NIV

1. God Sustained And Carried My Dad Through 95.5 Years of Life On Earth
A. Through two world wars
B. Through the Great Depression
C. Through the death of both parents, all eight siblings, his first wife & most of his childhood pals
D. Through the ups and downs of working at and leading a trucking company for seventy years
E. Through smoking cigarettes for sixty-five years
F. Through running after a newborn son starting at the age of sixty-two
G. Through being a Cubs fan for nearly a century
H. Through the often inexplicable decisions of seventeen U.S. Presidents
I. Through app. four BILLION heartbeats, 35,000 days of life on earth & driving over one million miles
J. Through being confined to a wheelchair for the last twelve months
God truly sustained and carried my Dad through all that and more. What an amazing God!

2. God Made My Dad Marvelously By Hand

It seems that nearly everyone who ever met my Dad, from family members to business associates to workers in the grocery store deli department, was impacted by his
A. Honest character
B. Genuine disposition
C. Generous spirit
D. Affable personality
E. Kind manner
F. Unconditional love
G. "Kid at heart"
H. Enthusiasm for life
I. Loyal faithfulness
J. Sincere/devout faith in God
Such a masterpiece as my Dad was not cranked out in any heavenly assembly line factory. No, such a man as my Dad was made as we all are: by the very Hand of the Father, the Ancient of Days, with the closest attention to detail and the creative flourishes of spiritual gifts also shared by God Himself.

3. God Rescued My Dad From Hell

Because my Dad "confessed with his mouth that Jesus is Lord and believed in his heart that God raised Him from the dead, he is saved" (Romans 10:9 NIV). Furthermore, my Dad didn't just have an intellectual faith but also a practical one that lived out what he believed: he was constantly putting into practice the golden rule, striving to follow the Ten Commandments, and interacting with the LORD as if God is a person (which He IS! :) by talking with Him and seeking His guidance daily. What a blessed privilege that because of Jesus my Dad's sins are forgiven, paid for, and wiped clean.

4. God Wants To Do The Same For All Of Us...

Just as the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit sustained and carried my Dad, the Trinity wants to carry us through the trials that we face every day...if we will let Him.

Just as God made my Dad by hand with special gifts through which to display the splendor of God, He made us by hand and is waiting to unlock those gifts in us...if we will let Him.

And just as the LORD Almighty rescued my Dad from hell through Jesus' death on the cross and return to life three days later, the Trinity wants to do all that for each of us...if only we will let Him, if only we will say "yes!" to Jesus, if only we will answer the door of our hearts where Jesus knocks and invite Him in, handing Him the deed to our lives and allowing Him to be in control.

Because my Dad did this, his death, while bitter, has a sweetness mixed deep into the recipe: the expiration of his earthly body was not the end of my Dad--rather it was his graduation day to an eternal life in the direct/pure presence of God! What could be better!?

May the end of our earthly lives also be our graduation day--we cannot earn the degree, but Jesus passed all the exams for us and wants to bestow upon us PhD's in righteousness that last forever and ever...if we will accept His application to be LORD and Savior of our lives!

I miss my Dad dearly, but I WILL see him again.

I miss him so much, but we WILL have a catch again someday and I WILL hear the pop of the ball in the mitt as he gives me a left-handed heater that wowed Cubs scouts back in 1935.

I feel emptiness without him, but I WILL fill him in on the rest of my earthly life someday and experience again his rich pride in me and unconditional love for me.

I miss Him, but this is NOT the end...

May the above be true for all of us.

Cubs Game With M.J. And His Dad
MJ with his Dad, Mat, at Wrigley Field.

Monday, May 07, 2012

71 Toes: 7 motherhood ideas I love - Mother's Day Letters

With Mother's day coming this weekend, I thought idea #4 taken from 71 Toes: 7 motherhood ideas I love blog was fantastic.  Mothers, this week leading up to Mother's Day take some time to write a letter to each of your children and perhaps even your husband as an expression of your love.
Idea #4 Mother's Day Letters 
Being the fanatic about record keeping that I am I love to write letters to my kids. I want them to have a record of how much I adore every little thing they do. When Max and Elle were little I was great at it and I'd write to them all the time. But then it got harder and harder to set aside time to do it. So a few years ago I decided I'd ask for a couple hours alone in my room each Mother's Day so I could write a special love note to each of my kids. I love knowing that I have those compiled for them. I want them to forever remember how much I love them at every stage and what I've noticed about them each year.
For more ways you can cherish the moments you've been given as a mother visit 71 Toes: 7 motherhood ideas I love:

Proverbs 6:20-23
20  My son, keep your father's commandment,
 and forsake not your mother's teaching.
21  Bind them on your heart always;
 tie them around your neck.
22  When you walk, they will lead you;
 when you lie down, they will watch over you;
and when you awake, they will talk with you.
23 For the commandment is a lamp and the teaching a light,
and the reproofs of discipline are the way of life,

Sunday, May 06, 2012


There have been certain "special" words my kids have used as their language skills have grown and developed.  These words were unique because they were non-sense, or mis-pronounced words that meant nothing unless interpreted correctly.  Some of my favorites include "Waulkie" for water, "Obo!" for open, "Awpum Back Tuck" for awesome black truck, and "Mope" for milk.  Try has we did (and we really didn't try all that hard because they were so cute), we could not correct the pronunciation of these words.  I remember with my daughter that I would say to her, "Waaaaterrrr" and she would reply and repeat "Waaaaaulkiiieeee".  So cute!

Drew in his "comf-terble"
Most of these words or phrases have gone by the wayside as our kids have grown and developed into verbally "gifted" (sometimes to the exhaustion of their parents) children.  However, recently my youngest who just turned 5 was helping his mom make his bed one morning.  It was time for the comforter to go in it's place. Drew said to his Mom, "I'll get my 'comf-terble', Mom!" She tried to correct him ... "Comforter", and he said "right, comf-terble."  Love It!

Drew's version of the word, "comfortable," got me thinking.  I have been experiencing some dis-comfort lately for a couple of reasons.  I went through a minor surgical procedure two weeks ago, and as I sat with my bag of peas recovering, I felt the true nature of healing.  It is uncomfortable.  Over time, I gained strength and started becoming more active, which helped me realize that I needed to once again commit to an exercise and eating plan in order to regain balance in my health life.  So I started working-out again this week, and I am completely sore from head to toe. I'm uncomfortable.

Everything in me demands that I go get my "comfortable!" ...Except Jesus!!!  As a follower of Jesus Christ, am I supposed to be comfortable or uncomfortable?

Consider what Jesus told His disciples in Matthew 16:24-27.
24 Then Jesus told his disciples, "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.  25 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.  26 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his life? Or what shall a man give in return for his life?  ESV
  • Leave what you know and what is comfortable, and step out in faith after Jesus.
  • Deny your selfish needs, desires, and ambitions. 
  • Take on humility and recognize you're broken and in need of healing.
  • Work out your salvation by loving others to grow and produce fruit.
  • Pick up your cross and follow your Savior to the point of death.  “When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.” ~Bonhoeffer 
Jesus has called me to pick up my cross-- not my comfortable-- and follow Him completely!

Monday, April 30, 2012

Relevant Children's Ministry: Embrace Brevity

Relevant Children's Ministry: Embrace Brevity"The most valuable of all talents is that of never using two words when one word will do."  -Thomas Jefferson

Embrace brevity... Keep It Short S ... Servant of God!  Such a necessary reminder for those of us in Ministry.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Marriage: 4 Negative Patterns that Lead to Divorce

Today was an unusual day.  I found myself sitting at home recovering, and watching the TV.  First the Cubs game and then I found Anderson.  Anderson Cooper's newish show. He started the show out with these words, "It's an important show... one that just might save your relationship. Do you fight fair or are your fights going to destroy your relationship?"

Anderson welcomed Dr. John Gottman, Co-Founder of The Gottman Institute, and the nation's foremost researcher on marriage and relationships. Gottman says he can predict with 94% accuracy whether a marriage will end in divorce. He told us that how someone fights makes a huge difference. For instance, do you roll your eyes, show contempt or constantly nag? Nagging is as toxic as adultery to a marriage.

Cameras were allowed to follow one couple into their home for a week to observe every interaction and every argument. As we watched, we were able to see and learn from the way they fought, and find out the right way to argue to keep your relationship from falling apart.

Dr. John Gottman, discussed the four negative patterns that often sound familiar to fighting couples. Dr. Gottman  told Anderson that these four elements predict divorce, and called it "the four horsemen of the apocalypse."
1. Criticism: Gottman says criticism is "really a way of fueling the attack, so you state your complaint as an attack on the other person." He noted, "It's not constructive, it winds up leading to an escalation of the conflict."
2. Contempt: "Not only is contempt the best predictor of divorce, because it's really this air of superiority. You need respect in a relationship."

3. Defensiveness: Gottman explains people need to take responsibility for the problem, and can say to the other person, "What's your point? I mean, it makes some sense what you're saying. Tell me more.'" Dr. Gottman points out that defensiveness gets in the way of two people working as a team to figure out a solution.

4. Stonewalling is also known as the silent treatment. Gottman said, "The stonewaller is really trying to calm down and not make it worse, but when you're faced with somebody who's silent like that, you escalate. So, it's a very disruptive pattern."

I found this to be very interesting, helpful and a great reminder that I can never stop working and developing my skills as a husband so that my marriage is strong and stable because divorce is not an option in our marriage.  At the end of Dr. Gottman's segment, he issued a homework challenge for couples.  Take a moment or a create Date Night to recall the history of your relationship by answering the questions in Dr. Gottman's quiz. He advises needing a few hours of uninterrupted time to complete the exercise.
Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.
Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.  (Ephesians 5:22-33 ESV) 

Friday, March 30, 2012

Holy Week Scripture Reading

Palm Sunday (April 1, 2012)
·         Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29
·         Mark 11:1-11 or John 12:12-16

Monday of Holy Week (April 2)
·         Isaiah 42:1-9
·         Psalm 36:5-11
·         Hebrews 9:11-15
·         John 12:1-11

Tuesday of Holy Week (April 3)
·         Isaiah 49:1-7
·         Psalm 71:1-14
·         1 Corinthians 1:18-31
·         John 12:20-36

Wednesday of Holy Week (April 4)
·         Isaiah 50:4-9a
·         Psalm 70:1-5
·         Hebrews 12:1-3
·         John 13:21-32

Maundy Thursday (April 5)
·         Exodus 12:1-4, 5-10, 11-14
·         Psalm 116:1-2, 12-19
·         1 Corinthians 11:23-26
·         John 13:1-17, 31b-35

Good Friday (April 6)
·         Isaiah 52:13-53:12
·         Psalm 22:1-31
·         Hebrews 10:16-25 or Hebrews 4:14-16; 5:7-9
·         John 18:1-19:42

Holy Saturday (April 7)
·         Job 14:1-14 or Lamentations 3:1-9, 19-24
·         Psalm 31:1-4, 15-16
·         1 Peter 4:1-8
·         Matthew 27:57-66 or John 19:38-42

Easter Sunday – Resurrection of the Lord (April 8, 2012)
·         Acts 10:34-43 or Isaiah 25:6-9
·         Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24
·         1 Corinthians 15:1-11 or Acts 10:34-43
·         John 20:1-18 or Mark 16:1-8

Thursday, March 15, 2012

How Great Is Your Love?

My Family has been going through a season of sickness this winter.  Have you been there?  First one is sick then another and another.  Will it ever end?  At the pinnacle when everyone including my wife was sick we popped in the Jungle Book DVD.  It was time to let Disney transport us away from the aches, pains, sniffles and coughs for a short period of time.

I was reminded what a great movie and story the Jungle Book is!  But there came a point in the movie that I had to pause the DVD.  It was at this point:

"Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends." John 15:13.

I had to pause the DVD and break the Disney trance to remind my kids that these were not just the words of Bagheera speaking about the actions of Baloo, but the very Words of Jesus, the son of God! 

Jesus was talking to his disciples about himself.  He was instructing them of the importance of demonstrating love an the power of the gospel.  He soon would demonstrate His love for His disciples and all people by laying down His life as the atoning sacrifice for the sin that we all have committed. Jesus set a very high standard and asks (really commands) us to demonstrate our love to each other accordingly.

John 15:12-17
12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 No longer do I call you servants,[a] for the servant[b] does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. 17 These things I command you, so that you will love one another.

Friday, January 27, 2012

"I Can't Do It!"

In the January 2012 Focus on the Family Bulletin, Cheryl Gochnauer wrote this helpful article.

"I Can't Do It!"
Sooner or later, every parent hears these words, usually uttered with a pitiful whine and slump to the floor.  Try these tips to help your youngster turn "I Can't" into "I'll Try."
  • Set Clear Goals.  Explain to your child that his bed doesn't have to be made like Mommy and Daddy's, but he should straighten the blankets and put his pillow in place.
  • Divide the Project into Manageable Pieces.  Instead of telling your child to clean her room, tell her to put away "all the animals" or "every toy that is blue or green."  Continue suggesting different categories until she is finished.
  • Reinforce Past Successes.  Point out specific things your child does well -- setting the table, kicking a ball, feeding the cat, and so on.  Tell him you can't wait to see what he does next.
  • Don't Shield Your Child from Failure.  Let your child work through some frustrations, learning appropriate ways to deal with challenges.  Give her time to wrestle with a problem or try a task a few times before you offer assistance.
  • Encourage Kids to Try, Try Again.  Talk about perseverance and what it means.  Share a story about someone in the Bible or in your family who showed determination.
  • Assume Your Child Will Succeed.  Optimism is Contagious!  -- Cheryl Gochnauer  

To read more from this issue of the Bulletin - a publication of Focus on the Family, pick up a copy at any check-in station in Community Kids at Community Fellowship Church.
If your church or ministry does not subscribe, visit Focus on the Family and subscribe.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Relevant Children's Ministry: Why We Need More Marriage Ministry and Less Children's Ministry

Relevant Children's Ministry: Why We Need More Marriage Ministry and Less Children's Ministry: "The most important factor in a child's spiritual life is his or her parents. No one has more influence..."

Please take the time to click the above link because, "What happens at home is just as important, if not more important, than what happens at church."

Friday, January 20, 2012

Reminder for Children's Ministry

Yesterday I was able to attend a Children's Ministry Network meeting called Shepherds of the Sheep.  We invited John Walton,  Author of the Bible Story Handbook which is an amazing resource for any teacher of the Bible and Professor of Old Testament at Wheaton College who on occasion enjoys living out the Old Testament, a lifestyle that helped him lead a team of 30 international scholars to write the Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary on the Old Testament (November 2009).

John Walton gave us some really great reminders so I thought I would pass them along.

  • Don't just settle for Truth. Shoot for Authority!
    • Teaching Truth is a non-negotiable, but when teaching God's Word you must make sure that the truth you are teaching is founded in the Authority of the text.
  • Be God Focused.  It's all about God and His Story.  Focus on what He's like, what He's done and is doing, and what He expects of His People and how we can respond appropriately.
    • Our lessons need to move away from Values, Heroes, Ethics and Behavior Modification focused.
  • When teaching the Narratives, Investigate.
    • Why is this a part of Scripture?
    • How does this narrative operate within the context of Scripture?

Thank you, John Walton, for this Great Reminder!

Friday, January 13, 2012

A Marriage with Two Brains

I was with a group of Guys a couple of weeks ago discussing how we can be better Husbands.  We all agreed that our Marriages would be perfect if we could keep them in a Box ... But as you will see/hear in this video that's not going to happen.

Knowing how your Spouse thinks is key to having a Marriage that is filled with Love and Respect.

Marriage expert Mark Gungor explores the differences between men and women.

Friday, January 06, 2012

Words to Live by in 2012

Last week a Friend of mine on Facebook and in real life asked a question of sorts.  "In one word, sum up 2011." The responses were both positive and negative.  Ranging for Crazy, Sad, Rewarding, Fast, 2011?, Blessed, Accomplished, Insane, etc.  It prompted me to think and rehearse the events of my life in 2011, and what word or words I would use to describe it.

It became pretty clear to me that I was not going to be able to settle on just one word, but I could narrow it down to a singular progression of three words.  First there was WAITING.  Waiting for the Lord, which is something that I do not enjoy, by balancing the tension of uncertainty and of trusting in an all-knowing supreme God.  Then Waiting turned into ANTICIPATION.  The Lord was present and starting to move.  All I had to do was join Him with excited Anticipation.  Finally then, I am experiencing a TRANSFORMATION as God moved my family and me along a new path and set our course in a new way and ministry for His glory.

So what Word(s) define your last year or current situation?

While I firmly believe that it is important to rehearse and review the course of your life, we cannot allow our eyes to be entranced by what we see in the rear view mirror.  So let's look forward, and ask, "What Words will define your 2012?"

Proverbs 3:1-10, may give us some direction as we set some words before us to mark our way through 2012.

·         OBEY – Proverbs 3:1-2
o   Don’t forget my Commands/Teachings - Mind
o   Keep them in your Heart
o   Prove your Love by OBEYING – John 14:15  If you love me (Jesus) then Keep/Obey my commands.
§  Prosperity = SHALOM
·        Shalom means completeness, wholeness, health, peace, welfare, safety soundness, tranquility, prosperity, perfectness, fullness, rest, harmony, the absence of agitation or discord. 
         §  Shalom:  Prolong your Life

·         LOVE -  FAITHFULNESS – Proverbs 3:3-4
o   Steadfast Love – Mercy & Truth
§  bind . . . Neck - outwardly Wear Love & Faithfulness in All you do
§  write . . . Heart - inwardly govern our motives with Love & Faithfulness – who you are
§  Shalom: Favor and Good name with God and Man - Repuation
·         TRUST – Proverbs 3:5-6
o   With ALL your Heart
o   Don’t Lean on yourself - False sense of stability will always crumble
o   Lean on God in and for All things 
§  Shalom: Paths Straight 

·         WORSHIP – Proverbs 3:7-8
o   Deep Reverance for God
§  Set aside your own wisdom and shun evil
§  Fixing your Eyes to Jesus – Hebrewa 12:2
o   Submission to His Lordship and Commands
§  Shalom: Health to your Body

·         GIVE – Proverbs 3:9-10
o   Honor the Lord with your Wealth
§  No matter how much wealth you have there is always someone who has more.
§  We are Rich/Wealthy
o   First Fruits!
§  Give First
§  Live Second
·         Don’t allow your life to get in the way of your Giving
§  Shalom: Barns will be filled
·         Phil. 4:19 - And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.

Let these Words define your Life in 2012!