Finding the gospel in “The paper dolls” by Julia Donaldson

Paper Dolls by Julia Donaldson

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This is a beautiful story about a little girl and her mum who make some paper dolls and go on an adventure. When the paper dolls are dramatically chopped up by a boy the book gives hope that they still live on in the memory of the little girl and when she grows up she then passes on the legacy of paper dolls to her daughter.

As well as being a great story to read (with bits to sing too!) it made me think of our family legacy and what we pass on to our children. The most wonderful gift my parents gave me was telling me the gospel and introducing me to Jesus. Not just using words but also through the action of love.

Activities

    1. Making paper dolls.
    Meet the family. We cut out and coloured a paper doll for each member of the family.

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2. Clay pots

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I followed this link from Pinterest to make some air dried clay and made a pot. I explained to the kids how it says in the Bible that Jesus is the potter and we are the clay. The more we allow Him to mould and shape us into the people He wants us to be, the more we become like Jesus.

http://www.growingajeweledrose.com/2013/03/clay-recipe.html

3. Legacy
Sometimes I get caught up in the every day hum drum of washing, cooking, getting the kids to school routine and can to be honest feel a bit of a failure for not keeping on top of things or for shouting at the kids.  When I started to think about legacy I thought of some of the positive things I would like and hope the kids to remember about growing up. Some of the things that came to mind were cuddles, Walks in the woods, love of birds, and the great outdoors.

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4. Missionary books

We we have collected some of this series of books about famous Christians. All of my children have enjoyed reading or listening to them. It has been a great way of introducing the idea of mission and the amazing legacy these men and women left when they chose to live their lives telling other people about Jesus.

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5. DVD – The adventures of Toby – Crunch time.

http://www.wingclips.com/movie-clips/the-adventures-of-toby-crunch-time/full-movie

This is a great short film about a boy called Toby who learns that his the thing he desires most is not his greatest treasure – Jesus is. Really good lesson on building character with Jesus.

Thoughts

There are a few words to describe me but sporty is probably not one of them. However, as you will see from this short clip, with my hubby’s expert tuition I appear to have a great golf swing (what the clip doesn’t show is the many times before that where I missed the ball altogether).

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Andy said that each time you swing your golf club you are aiming to have the same swing technique. Apparently the reason you have different types of golf clubs is so that you can assess which one is best for each shot. Your club may change but your swing technique remains the same. Anyway this got me thinking about the gospel and how it is central to everything we do and to who we are as Christians.

Earlier this year a wonderful man in our church family who was a faithful servant of God lost his lengthy battle with cancer. He was a man of integrity who loved Jesus and loved his family. I remember our minister Sandy explaining what the word integrity meant. He said the word comes from the Greek word “integra” meaning “without cracks” and explained the process of clay jar being formed into shape. Before firing in the oven or furnace as it was then, the pots would all look the same. However, once they had been through the fire the potter would hold them up to the light and the ones that had impurities would have cracks. Held up to the light of Gods perfection all of us have impurities. We can’t fix ourselves.

I am challenged daily about living a life of integrity, especially in the way i live at home. I need to remind myself that character shows up not when we are at the front of the church or in the limelight or even with friends. C.S Lewis describes integrity as “doing the right thing, even when no one is watching.” Our character shows up in the many small choices we make each day. When things are going well but particularly when we face the fiery trials of life, when no one is there to see the good or the not so good things we do or think.

Whether we are missionaries in a foreign land, working 9-5 or looking after our children our true identity can only be found “in Christ”. Whether baby christians or those who have known Jesus for years we need to hold to the promise that we belong in Him not because of anything we have done or will do but because, only because of what Jesus did for us on the cross.

As Christians God does not look at us and see our failures or shortcomings or even our achievements and accomplishments but as Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5:21 “He [God] made Him [Jesus Christ] who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” God looks at us and sees Jesus. Amazing!

Trust v fear

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Chapter 13 – The Warrior Leader

Activities

1. Communion

I wanted to give a bit of background to the story of Jericho. I used the family App from the gospel project which I would thoroughly recommend. The Joshua series is called “Life in the land”.

The Gospel Project for Kids Family App by LifeWay Christian Resources
https://appsto.re/gb/fdRDH.i

One of the videos in the App shows the Israelites crossing the river Jordan. At the end of each clip in the gospel project they point out the connection to the gospel. After the Israelites crossed the Jordan river they made an alter with 12 stones to remember what God has done for them.

As it happens our minister Sandy Weddell was preaching about communion that week.  He relayed the story of Gullivers travels written by Jonathan Swift and how in the book the author was criticising the church, who were caught up in endless arguing about whether the bread and wine were actually Jesus’ flesh and blood. In Gullivers travels the two kingdoms are at war with each other because they couldn’t agree about how best to eat an egg. One side said it should be eaten from the top down and the other said from the bottom up. Sandy pointed out the key for them was not about about how to eat an egg but just to enjoy the egg. He said “The key to communion is that you must meet Jesus in the breaking of bread”.

As a family we talked about communion, read the verses from Matthew and had communion together. We thanked God for everything he had taken away from us like our sin etc and for everything he has given us, especially the blessing of being in His family.

2. Hide and seek

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We went to the local park and played a variation of hide and seek called “capture the flag” I got the idea from Pinterest. See link below. The kids loved it. On the way back I told the story of the spies and how Rahab believed in God and had hidden the spies and how God was faithful to her and her family by saving them after the fall of Jericho.

http://www.getoutwiththekids.co.uk/activities/playing-things/capture-the-flag-game/

3. Veggietales battle of Jericho

A fun and silly version of the fall of Jericho

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=yDpM_j1MZG8

4. Trumpets

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We made some trumpets and talked about the story and how God was going to fight for His people. They had to trust Him and obey the instructions.

5. Tower drama

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We built a tower of cushions in the living room. Then using our trumpets we marched around the “cushion Walls” of Jericho. The first 6 times we went round very quietly and Jacob insisted we have a sleep at the end of each day. He then played Joshua and led us round the city 7 times. On the 7th time round (feeling rather dizzy) he shouted “Shout for the Lord has given us the city”. They then had great fun making as much noise as possible and jumping on the cushions.

6. Picture frame

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As usual I got this idea on Pinterest. We made a picture frame in the shape of a house with the words “As for me and my family we will serve the Lord”, Joshua 24:15

7. Meaning of names

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At the beginning of the story “The warrior leader” Sally Lloyd Jones explains that the name Joshua means “the Lord saves”. She ends the chapter by pointing out that although Gods people didn’t manage to keep their promises, God still had a plan to save His people.

We looked up on Google what all of our names meant and Esther and I made a bookmark of her name.

Poached egg house

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I got this idea from “Bake through the Bible” by Sarah Bentley Taylor and Bekah Moore and adapted it to make beans on toasts houses for those who weren’t so keen on eggs. Talked to the kids about how God promised His people a new home and that God always keeps his promises.

Thoughts

Like many households across the land ours is filled with the songs from Disneys “Frozen”. In the song “Let it go” the main character Elsa reaks havok and destruction when she unleashes her powers. In one of the lines she says “there’s so much fear…”. Although we may not set off an eternal winter when we are fearful we can, even as Christians be controlled by fear. Some of the things that we can allow to control and debilitate us are fear of the future, money, job situations, relationships, what people think of us. When we allow fear to control us this can lead to making bad choices to try and control our situations. In 2 Timothy 1:7 Paul challenges the church saying;

“God gave us his Spirit. And the Spirit doesn’t make us weak and fearful. Instead, the Spirit gives us power and love. He helps us control ourselves.”

In the story of Joshua and the Israelites defeating the city of Jericho Gods people made a choice NOT to fear but to trust and obey God. This was probably one of the highest points for Gods people as they chose to obey Gods’ commands and not to give in to fear. One thing this required, was patience. They needed to wait for Gods instructions, and obey them as strange as they seemed. The Israelites held onto the promise of Gods faithfulness to them. They had relied and depended on Him for 40 years in the wilderness. They knew they could trust Him to deliver on His promises.

It is sacrificial love in the film that overcomes fear and this is also true of our Christian lives too. In 1 John 4:17-18 the apostle John says;

“Love is fulfilled among us when in this world we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love. Instead, perfect love drives away fear”

But how do we become like Jesus, surely not by our own efforts. Sometimes we can find it hard to even be nice or show acts of kindness to our friends and family never mind our enemies. We can’t just look to Jesus as an example to follow, we need to know Him, spend time in His presence and allow Him to work through us by trusting Him in every area of our lives.

We, like Joshua and the Israelites have a choice to make each day. Do we choose to trust in our faithful God whose love never ends or do we look to our circumstances and choose to fear. In Joshua’s final speech to Gods people he reminded them of Gods faithfulness and goodness. He then challenged them saying;

“So have respect for the Lord. Serve him…. But suppose you don’t want to serve him. Then choose for yourselves right now whom you will serve. You can choose the gods your people served east of the Euphrates River. Or you can serve the gods of the Amorites. After all, you are living in their land. But as for me and my family, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:14 – 15)

Owl babies

Owl babies “worry” story sack

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Activities

Worries give away

“Cast all your anxieties on Him for He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7)
At the start of the new term there are usually few anxieties starting nursery and school. One of the mums at Bible study had a great idea that before her daughter goes into school they talk about her worries. Her daughter then hands over all of her worries which she puts in her pocket promising to flush them down the toilet. Our ever wise group leader suggested we could also say that we can give our worries to Jesus. This along with a few songs (see below) and lots of cajoling has been a great idea and has encouraged my daughter to chat about feelings as well as giving her something tangible to do.

Owl baby picture

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Fairly self explanatory really. We used a bit of glue to stick down some grass, leaves, twigs and feathers then got a sponge and painted the owls, stars, beaks and feet (forgot about wings). While she was painting we talked about how the owl babies were worried about their mum not coming back. Lastly we added the googly eyes. The different sizes for older, middle and younger owl was Esther’s “unique” idea!

Books

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Story of Jesus calming the storm (most children’s bible books have this story. I like Nick Butterworth’s version, “A mouse’s tale” written from a mouse’s perspective. Great for preschool. We added in a bit of noise and action using a rainmaker when telling the story.

Bird feeders

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I read out the verse from Matthew 6:25-26 (See below) to all the kids and reminded them Jesus told his followers not to worry, that He was interested in every part of their lives and would provide for all their needs.

We then made some bird feeders. I used the recipe from RSPB for the big feeder and we also made some shapes and put a hole at the top to put string through to hang up. We wanted to share the love for birds around so gave some away to granny and neighbours.

Kids songs

DVDs

http://www.wingclips.com/movie-clips/the-adventures-of-toby-monsters-and-me/full-movie

“The adventures of Toby – Monsters and me”
This is a great animation featuring Toby who is frightened to go to bed after watching a scary movie. He meets up with Jesus who gives him a special gun that fires words, but not any words. They fire verses from the word of God. Great!

Verses to “preach” to yourself when anxious;

“For this reason I say to you, do not be anxious for your life, as to what you shall eat, or what you shall drink; nor for your body, as to what you shall put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?” (Matthew 6:25-26)

Cast all your anxieties on him, for he cares about you. (1 Peter 5:7)

When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. (Psalm 56:3)

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. (Philippians 4:6)

We know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)

Thoughts

One of my Dads favourite jokes about worry is; “There once was a man who just couldn’t stop worrying. One day he met his friend Bill who said he didn’t worry about anything. ‘How do you do that?’ he asked. ‘Well’ said Bill, ‘I pay someone to worry for me’. The man replied ‘That’s fantastic, how much does that cost?’. Bill replied ‘It costs £1,000 per week.’. The man was taken aback and asked ‘How on earth can you afford that Bill?’ to which Bill responded ‘I can’t, but I let him worry about that!’

My 3 year old has just started nursery and their first topic was based on the book “Owl babies” by Martin Waddell. The story is about 3 baby owls who are anxious about their mother who has gone away. As I was scrolling Pinterest for ideas on the theme I came across some bible related activities on anxiety that gave me some ideas for a story sack.

One of my recent challenges has been how to “pray the scriptures” and at a bible study recently we were looking at Psalm 3 written by David who is running for his life as his son Absolom has made a claim for the throne. He is scared, downcast and disheartened. BUT like the other psalms of David he chooses to trust in God.

The bible is full of people who worried. A couple of weeks ago I was visiting a church where the pastor was talking about Hagar in Genesis 16 and how God not only hears prayers, He also intervenes. Often, like with Hagar He throws us back into the midst of difficulty with renewed strength and the knowledge that He is with us. The pastor pointed out that David describes God in Psalm 23 as his Good Shepherd, leading him beside still waters and restoring his soul. Importantly David also recognises that “the valley of the shadow of death” is not actually the wrong route. Jesus Himself promised us that in this world we will have trouble. But rather than leaving us hopeless He encourages us to take heart because He has overcome the world (John 16:33). In the midst of our trouble, He is there.

Remember who the real enemy is!

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Chapter 12 – Ten ways to be perfect

Activities

Jesus came as a ransom

We have just finished reading through Jessica Thompsons devotion book “exploring grace together”. One of the days she explores Mark 10:45 describing how Jesus came to earth to be a servant. He gave so that he could give his life as a “ransom for many”. She then goes on to explain that a ransom is what you pay to get a prisoner free – and you are actually the prisoner, to sin and death. Jesus came to set you free from always thinking of yourself.

The kids were struggling a bit to get the concept of a ransom so I said for them to imagine I was the baddy and I took Stephen prisoner and pretended to tie him up. I said they could only get him back if they gave me a box of cereal. Thankfully they gave over the cereal and I untied Stephen and allowed him to return to them. I explained that sin has a real hold on us. Things like unforgiveness, selfishness and jealousy can make us prisoners. The only way we can be free of sins hold on us is through Jesus who paid the price to make us free. And there’s more. Through His Holy Spirit we can resist temptation and change to become more and more like Jesus.

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Follow the instructions ice lollies

We used the idea from “Bake through the bible”. The idea is that you have to follow the instructions to freeze each part of the ice lolly or it becomes one big mess. We used cranberry juice, orange juice and kiwi fruit mashed up and then sieved to get rid of pips, with a bit of water. I asked kids what would happen if we hadn’t followed the instructions and left time for each fruit section to freeze. All agreed it would look a bit yucky. I asked them what instructions God gave to the Israelites. I then asked how did Jesus summarise the 10 commandment and show us the best way to live – love God with all your heart and love others as much as you love yourselves.

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Board games and Wii “just dance”

We played some board games and played on the wii  “just dance” game. We chatted about the importance of following the instructions so that we can enjoy the game better. Similarly God made us with a special purpose in mind, to love and worship Him and to love others as we would love ourselves (Matthew 22:37-40). When we follow the instructions of the One who made us we can live much more fulfilled lives.

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Song for kids

10 commandment boogie by Go Fish

Thoughts

I am a big fan of “The Hunger Games” and one of my favourite quotes is from the second book when the heroine Katniss is feeling exposed, vulnerable and doesn’t know who to trust. She aims her arrow at one of the other competitors who challenges her to “remember who the enemy is”.

The Israelites who had only just witnessed Gods amazing power and sovereignty over Pharoah, the mighty Egyptian empire and their gods, went from singing Gods praises to cries of panic and fear then grumbling and ungratefulness saying they were better off in Egypt. They had forgotten, they were no longer slaves but free! But the real enemy for them was not Pharoah or the Egyptians. The real enemy was within their hearts and their dependence on themselves. They believed the age old lie that they didn’t really need to trust in God but could rely on their own abilities to save themselves.

I was challenged recently by a youtube clip by Paul Tripps about parenting. (http://youtu.be/h8rVIRzmPUk)

In it he remind us that we are parenting sinners. He says;

“Every child that comes into the world believes two very destructive lies”. He outlines them as;

1. Autonomy – “I am an Independant human being”, “I have the right to live my life how I want to”, “I will rule my own life”

2. Self sufficiency – “I have everything I need inside myself to do what I want to do”

These attitudes, Tripp warns if they continue to believe them will destroy them.

Nobody really likes to think of themselves as “needy” or dependant but it is only God who is self sufficient. We are made for community, with one purpose to love God and worship only Him.

A friend of mine at a recent conference was admiring a photo poster displayed in the wall. She pointed out the word “Zolo” at the top and wondered what it meant. after a sneaky giggle I said “I think it says 2010”. She was missing the point of the poster!

Just like the Israelites, sometimes we can miss the point. We are free! We can sometimes forget that Jesus paid the price for our sins so that we can live blameless before God. We can forget that “he who began a good work in you will carry on to completion (Philippians 1:6). We forget that “every good and perfect gift comes from him” (James 1:17).

The point of this freedom is of course not to give us a comfortable life where we always get what we want. Just like Gods purpose for the Israelites the reason God blesses us is so that we can be a blessing to others.

Singer and songwriters Keith and Kristyn Getty have written a great song called “By faith”. In it is one of the greatest challenges for us today as a church.

“By faith the church was called to go
In the power of the Spirit to the lost
To deliver captives and to preach good news
In every corner of the earth”

I have also recently descovered Radio free Babylon and “coffee with Jesus” cartoon strips. Heres one to finish off, entitled “Needy”.

God makes a way

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Chapter 11 – God makes a way

Activities

1. Impossible pie

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I remember my Mum teaching us this recipe. Basically you tell the kids to mix all the ingredients in and put the gloopy mess in the oven. While it is cooking we chatted about how sometimes all the “ingredients” in our life seem a bit impossible like getting homework done, beating your brother at sport or just even doing as your told first time. But when we hand these things over to God, He can turn our impossible into possible and make something wonderful out of our difficulties. I reminded them of the verse “God works all things for the good of those who love Christ”. (Romans 8:28)

We then ate the pie which turned out with pastry on the bottom, custard in the middle and coconut on top.

Link to recipe is http://allrecipes.com.au/recipe/3875/impossible-pie.aspx

2. Red Sea cake

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We did this “Red Sea cake” a few months ago and got a bit carried away with it. I made a sponge, cut it in two and added some blue sprinkles for the sea, buttons and marzipan for the waves, crushed digestive biscuits for the sand and jelly babies for the people. The red bits on top were dry fruit put there as we found out the Red Sea is red because of the red plankton in it. Bit indulgent really!!

3. Lego maze

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I set the kids a challenge to make a maze for a marble run using lego. Great fun and kept them busy for ages. We talked about how the Israelites were about to go on a journey. It would take them 40 years to get to the promised land. God allowed them to wander around the wilderness for this length of time because they were grumbling and he wanted to change their hearts and for them to trust Him.

4. Gloop in a bag

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We did this activity in our church toddler group. I have adapted it to make the parting of the Red Sea. Great activity for preschool and as usual the older ones wanted a go too.

I used a ziplock bag and got Esther to help me put a few spoonfuls of blue hair gel and some small beads (representing fish). I sellotaped it to the table and let her have a play with it. Feels lovely and cold, quite therapeutic really! Then I read the story of Moses and the Red Sea and made a path through the middle and used our fingers to walk through the middle of the sea like the Israelites.

5. We couldn’t do the story of Moses and Red Sea without singing the golden oldie “How did moses cross the Red Sea”.

Lyrics for How did Moses Cross the Red Sea?

How did Moses cross the Red Sea?

How did Moses cross the Red Sea?

How did Moses cross the Red Sea?

How did he get across?

Did he swim? No! No!

Did he row? No! No!

Did he jump? No! No! No! No!

Did he drive? No! No!

Did he fly? No! No!

How did he get across?

God blew with His wind, huff, huff, huff, huff.

He blew just enough, ‘nough, ‘nough, ‘nough, ‘nough’

And through the sea He made a path

That’s how he got across

Thoughts

On holiday in the summer one of my sons was walking along a wall at the side of the beach. He felt a bit wobbly and nervous as the wall got higher and asked me to hold his hand. At the high and scary points he held on tight and was cautious. At the safer part he became complacent, looked back and fell. Thankfully because I was still holding his hand he was ok. I thought of our walk with Jesus being similar. We tend to cry out in panic when things go wrong. At those times we need to hold onto Jesus and the life and hope only possible through Him. It was Jesus Himself that promised his disciples and all those that followed Him that in this world we will have trouble, but to take heart because He has overcome the world (John 16:33). The apostle Paul also challenges us to “rejoice in our suffering” (Colossians 1:24-28). Humanly speaking it can feel impossible to rejoice in suffering but as we see from the parting of the Red Sea and time and time again in the Bible and our own lives, God is faithful and nothing is impossible for Him. In fact Paul’s suffering in jail described in Colossians was the means God used to spread the gospel to others.

Sometimes though it is during the quieter times in our lives that we can become complacent. Whether things are going well or not the temptation can be to become confident in ourselves and rely on our own ability rather than Gods. In her book “Treasuring Christ” Gloria Furman describes faith as this;

“More often than not in our trials we pretend everything is okay and we dive headlong into self sufficiency. Faith rather, acknowledges the fierceness of the storm and throws us into the sea and we swim as fast as we can to where we see Jesus walking on the water”.

She goes on to say;

“There is no thing or situation that is more powerful than He is.”

Joni Erikson Tada in her latest book “A place of healing” says that when she is struggling with pain or other difficulties she doesn’t want the meek and mild Jesus illustrated in the old children’s Bibles, she says;

“I need a battlefield Jesus at my side down here in the dangerous, often messy trenches of daily life. I need Jesus the rescuer ready to wade through pain, death and hell itself to find me, grasp my hand and bring me safely through”

Wow. What great images.

Another book I read over the summer was “War and grace” by Don Stephens. One of the stories he tells is that of Donald Caskie, also known as “the Tartan Pimpernel”. As a chaplain and smuggler in the war Caskie would reach the end of his human capacity and need to depend on God. He would pray “Dear God, you think this out for me please, I am beaten”. Stephens wrote;

“As he relied on The Lord and his regular reading of the bible he experienced answers to prayer, guidance in dealing with difficult situations and on occasions unusual insights which he believed were given by God”

When we accept Jesus as our saviour and Lord, we no longer belong to ourselves we belong to Him, heart, body, mind and soul. Daily I need to submit to Him, daily I need to take up my cross and follow Him.

Cross your fingers, it’s Friday the 13th!

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Chapter 10-The great escape

Activities

The story so far!

This was a bit impromptu. I was asking the kids what the story was so far and we ended up acting out the story of Moses as a baby being rescued from the Nile and then as a young adult murdering an Egyptian and then the burning bush. A bit chaotic but kids loved it. We somehow managed to incorporate Kung fu moves into the act and my shoe fell off landed on a smoothie which fell into a box of toys. They thought it was hysterical. I of course had to clean it up!

After school snacks

I got a bit carried away with after school snack ideas! The way to a boys heart is certainly through his stomach and the kids loved these food related activities.

I let them know that a connection can be made between most of the plagues and the gods/goddesses worshipped in Egypt. God used these plagues to show Pharoah and the powerful Egyptian nation that He alone was all powerful.

Plague 1 Nile turned to blood – the god Hapi, worshipped as bringer of fertility. For this snack idea we made a fruit smoothie.
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Plague 2 Frogs – Heq was frog headed goddess of fruitfulness.
For this snack idea we made up frogs using apple, grapes, marshmallows (or cut up banana) and chocolate buttons.

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Plague 3&4 Swarm of gnats and Flies – Kepher took the form of a beetle and symbolised the daily journey of the sun a cross the sky. For thus snack idea we made cupcakes and put chocolate chips or raisins on top.

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Plague 5 – death of livestock- many Egyptian gods were depicted as animals. For this snack idea we used animal cutters to make shapes with our sandwiches.

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Plague 6- boils. For this snack idea we made up a few bowls with red and white dips i,e yoghurt, grapes, raisins and melted chocolate. The gooier the better. Stephen also had the idea to put the raisins on his arm to make it look like boils.

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Plague 7 – hailstones – Nut was believed to be the sky goddess who also protected the dead. For our snack idea we used snowballs and yoghurt raisins.

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Plague 8 – Seriphia was believed to be the protector against locusts. For this snack idea we made a locust out of marzipan, chocolate sticks and choc chips.

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Plague 9 – darkness – Re was believed to be the sun god who claimed to be the king of the gods and the father of mankind.
For this snack idea we made Oreo biscuits. See link below.
http://themamasgirls.com/mamas-homemade-oreos/
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Plague 10- death of first born. Taurt was the goddess of maternity. See below for Passover activity, lamb burgers.

(Source: Free to serve, crossway bible study)

Treasure hunt sensory box

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I made up a sensory box with lentils, dry pasta, oatmeal and rice. I added in some “treasure” which the kids had to find. Once they found everything we talked about how although these things which represented money, toys, family are all good things but we need to remember that God is more important than anything created. He is our real treasure and the only one that will never let you down.

Bug binoculars
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Esther and I made some “bugnoculours”. On our bug hunt I told her that God made everything but he made us special.

Pyramid lego challenge</strong

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Lamb burgers
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I got this idea from the book “Bake through the Bible”. We cheated a bit though and bought lamb burgers! In keeping with Bible we also ate our dinner “in haste”, as we were running a bit late for a club. I talked to the kids the following day about how the blood of the lamb protected Gods people. I reminded them that Jesus was called “the lamb of God” and it is only through Him that we can be saved from the consequences of our sin. We ended up having a chat about judgement day and that one day we will give an account for all our actions (one of them said “oh no” at that point). I went on to remind them that when we choose to follow Jesus, God “washes us white as snow” and separates us from our sins “as far as the east us from the west”. When God looks at us His children, He sees Jesus.

Precious pearl story
This book is one of my favourites. We read the story about how Jesus is like the precious pearl. The story finishes with “It costs everything to know Him. But He is worth more than anything in the world”
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Thoughts

Last Friday was the 13th June and I was reminded again what a superstitious society we live in. Through the course of a day I will often hear the phrases “cross fingers”, “touch wood” or the good old Glasgow saying “what’s for you will not go by you”. While innocently said these phrases are based on fate and luck.

As Christians we do not believe we are here by chance or that we are an accident. Each one of our existence was planned by God before time began and we are all created for a purpose – to glorify God. The Bible says in 2 Timothy 1:9

“He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time”

In the story of Moses we see at first his faithful mother trusting God with her son. In contrast to the obedience of this ordinary slave woman stands the mighty Pharoah eager to show the world that he is powerful and in control. The Egyptians considered the Nile to be one of the most powerful gods in Egypt. Pharoah ordered the baby boys to be thrown into the Nile, committing the “troublesome Israelites” to the Nile god. Moses’ mother Jochebed, believing that God would fulfil His promises “obeyed the king but entrusted her little child to the God who made the Nile” (Free to serve, crossway bible study).

Eighty years later God would use Moses and this same river to bring freedom to His people. Each one of the plagues inflicted on the Egyptians can be connected to a god they worshipped. But the God of Moses, our God demonstrated His supremacy over all created things with each plague. While the idea of worshipping a goddess with a frog head or a sun god seems strange to us, there are a number of “gods” in our own lives in which we can sometimes place our hope. One of the ways we can work out what or who we worship is the “if only challenge”;
“If only I had more money”
“If only my children behaved”
“If only people appreciated me”
“If only I was more clever”
And the list goes on. We can look to created things to give us meaning, significance, happiness and meaning in life (Romans 1:25). While there is nothing wrong with these things or even wanting them, we cannot place our hope in them. Timothy Keller says;

“The human heart is an idol factory that takes good things like a successful career, love, material possessions, even family, and turns them into ultimate things”

So how do we place our hope in God and worship only Him? We use the word “hope” quite flippantly in every day language saying that we “hope it doesn’t rain” or “I hope things get better for you soon”. But the hope of the bible is not based on feelings or circumstances. The certain hope that we can depend on is based on faith. Biblical hope is not wishful thinking. John Piper describes hope as is “faith in the future tense”.

In Hebrews 11:1 it says;
“Faith is being sure of what you hope for and certain of what you do not see”

The ESV study bible describes faith not as blind trust or a leap in the dark but;
“Biblical faith is a confident trust in the eternal God who is all-powerful, infinitely wise, eternally trustworthy – the God who has revealed Himself through His word and in the person of Jesus Christ whose promises have proven true from generation to generation and who will ‘never leave you or forsake you’ (Hebrews 13:5)”

At times we don’t “feel” certain or even close to God and the temptation can be to place our “hope” in our circumstances changing so that the feeling of closeness to God returns. God created us to have emotions, to laugh, cry, be happy and the whole range of other emotions. But He doesn’t want us to be ruled or dependant on our emotions. He also created us to think.

The Israelites hope on that Passover night was in a lambs blood shed for them. They probably felt scared, excited, anxious and other emotions but they were obedient and did not allow these emotions to rule. Our only hope is in Jesus, the lamb of God who lived a perfect life, died a terrible death, paid the ultimate price, rose triumphant over death and who now sits at the Fathers right hand. The words of the old hymn ‘When I survey the wonderderous cross’ sums up how and why we should glorify God;

When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.

Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
Save in the death of Christ my God!
All the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to His blood.

See from His head, His hands, His feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down!
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?

Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a present far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.

One true love!!

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Chapter 8- The girl no-one wanted

Activities

1. Magic tricks with cups
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I told the kids a bit more about the story of Jacob who tricked his brother out of his birthright and had to run away. He went to his uncle Labans’ to live and was tricked into marrying Leah before Rachel who he loved. I explained that Jacob was wrong to deceive his brother and Father, and got a taste of his own medicine when he himself was tricked. One important thing to remember is that God loves people even if they make mistakes.

2. Watched the Disney film “Enchanted”
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Apologies to any film snobs out there but I actually quite liked this, (as did the boys!!!). I chatted to them afterwards and pointed out that the world has this idea that people need to find their “one true love” to make everything ok and make them happy. But God is the only one who can really be our “one true love” and it’s in Him we have to put our hopes.

3. We sang “love is a flag flown high in the castle of my heart”.

Lyrics are:
Love is a flag flying high from the castle of my heart,
From the castle of my heart, from the castle of my heart.
Love is a flag flying high from the castle of my heart,
For the King is in residence there.

[Chorus]
So let it fly in the sky let the whole world know,
Let the whole world know, let the whole world know.
So let it fly in the sky let the whole world know,
That the King is in residence there.

[2] Faith is a flag flying high…
[3] Joy is a flag flying high…

4. Love heart biscuits
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Ingredients for cookie
300g plain flour
150g caster sugar
250g softened butter
1 large egg yolk
2 tsp vanilla essence
Pinch of salt

Method
1.Beat the butter and sugar in a bowl
2. Add the egg yolk and vanilla essence
3. Then add the flour and salt and mix together to make a dough
4. Mould the dough into a ball then put cling film round it and put in fridge for 30 minutes.
5.Heat oven to 180*C gas 5
6. Roll the dough to about 1/2cm thick on a surface covered with flour
7. Cut out 12 heart shapes.
8. Cut circles in 6 of the cookies.
9. Bake in oven for 12 minutes
10. Once cooled make up icing and spread over the 6 whole cookies. Then add a blob of jam and top with the other 6 cookies with a hole cut out.
Enjoy!!

I reminded the kids that God is our One true love and encouraged them to talk to Him.

Thoughts

One of the most moving stories I have heard was shared by a friend of mine at Bible study. Following the break up of a relationship she remembers walking along the road extremely upset and crying out to God in prayer “I just want to matter to someone”. Right at that point a bus drove past with the Alpha advert on the side saying the words “You matter”.

In the story of Jacob and Leah it is hard to imagine what Leah must be feeling. She may have always lived in the shadow of her beautiful sister Rachel and now they are married to the same man! What’s more her Dad had to trick Jacob into marrying her in the first place. Leah’s hope when we first meet her is that one day her husband will love her. She bears him son after son hoping that they will soften Jacobs heart towards her. We see her desperation in the meaning of the names she chooses. When her first son Reuben was born, she said “It is because The Lord has seen my misery. Surely my husband will love me now”(Genesis 29:32).

Long before Disney ever invented the concept, Leah believed that if only she could find that ‘One true love’ everything would be ok, that she would ‘matter’. She was looking for Jacob to fill that inner emptiness inside. Jacob, however only had eyes for Rachel.

When Leah cries out to God she uses the same name for God as Abraham, and Isaac. She knows Him as the One true God. Something changes in her after the birth of her fourth son Judah, when she says “This time I will praise The Lord”.

Timothy Keller points out in his sermon “The struggle for love” that after the birth of Judah, Leah then stops having children (Chapter 29:35). He says;
“Leah took the deepest desires and passions of her heart away from her husband Jacob and gave it to God. She was free”

Leah does go on to have more children but it was through Judah that God chose to continue the line of His people that would lead to Jesus, the ultimate and perfect bridegroom. The question posed by Keller is;
“What is the thing that you need to take the deepest adoration of your heart off so that you can get your life back?”

This is the reason why God is described as a jealous God (Exodus 20:5). He knows that anything else we give our heart to will disappoint and destroy us. He alone can satisfy our need for true love.

Stairway to heaven

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Week 5 – A giant stairway to heaven

Activities (We got a bit carried away with the tower theme this week!)

Moonsand tower

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I found a great, easy way to make your own moonsand from Pinterest. Mix 8 cups of flour with 1 cup baby oil. It really works. They had loads of fun but very messy afterwards.

Minecraft tower

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In an attempt to include my 11year old I interrupted his killing of zombies on minecraft and asked if he would like to make a Minecraft Tower of Babel. He graciously obliged and was quite proud of his creation, which was unfinished because the people of babel were unable to complete theirs.

Choc crispy cake tower

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This may not look too appetising but was very tasty. We melted some butter, chocolate and marshmallows in a pan. Mixed in some rice crispies. Then we popped the mixture into ice cube trays and put in the fridge. YUM!

Mega block tower
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Pancake charades

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James came up with this idea. It combines pass the parcel, cherades and eating pancakes. First we made pancakes and put them on a plate in the middle of the table. James suggested we pass an orange around the table while the music played. When the music stopped the person had to act out a cherade. Whoever guessed right got a pancake. The idea being the winner is the one with the highest pancake tower.

During a couple of these activities I asked the kids if they thought there was anything wrong with building a tower. They all said yes. I then had great opportunity to talk to them about how God made us in His image and since God is creative, He wants us to be creative and use the gifts He has given to us. The problem with the people who built the tower of Babel was not the actual building but their attitude. It says in the Bible that they “wanted to make a name for themselves”. God wants us to use our gifts and be creative not to make us look good but to bring Him glory.

Missionary books
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I have been collecting these books over the years. They are simply written stories about missionaries who have made a difference. Just like in the time of Babel God wanted people to scatter all over the earth, in Mark 16:15-16 Jesus said to His disciples “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.”.

*www.desiringGod.com

Thoughts

A trip to the dentist is never a dull experience with the kids. At this weeks visit Jacob was singing in the waiting room at the top of his voice “people change but God don’t change at all. NOOOOOOONOOOOOOO”, Esther was singing twinkle twinkle little teeth, until the moment she needed to open her mouth which remained firmly shut in the dentist chair, James was in shorts and tshirt (mid winter at the moment) as I had forgotten he had an afterschool club and Stephen looked very embarrassed to be connected with us. Although this was more of a comical moment there are lots of times when I do really worry about what people think of me.

Like most people, I like to be liked. But my true identity is not based on what others think of me, what kind of parent I am or how many “good works” I do. My identity can only be found in Christ. It says in 2 Corinthians 5:17

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”

The people of Babel became too comfortable and confident in their own abilities and tried to make a name for themselves. They wanted to use their gifts for their own glory instead of for Gods glory. God made us to be creative. We are after all made in His image. We are made to build, to learn and to explore. But mostly we are made to worship. Not ourselves or our creations but worship our creator and Heavenly Father. He is the only One that can fill the God shaped hole in our lives.

John Piper describes the two sins the people of Babel committed as the love of praise and the love of security. He explained that God’s will for human beings is not that we find our joy in being praised, but that we find our joy in knowing and praising Him.*

When I worry about what other people think of me I try to remember who I am in Christ, what He has done for me and how much He loves me. This is one of the many ways to lift my eyes heavenwards, taking the focus away from a “poor wee me” attitude to a “thank you Jesus” attitude. But it is so much more than that. As we grow in Christ we become more like Him. Paul says in Philippians 2:5-11;

“You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. Though he was God,he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges;he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross. Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honour and gave him the name above all other names, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,to the glory of God the Father.”

God hangs up His bow

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Jesus story Bible -Chapter 4 “The new beginning”

Activities

1. Rainbow crayons
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This was an idea from one of the mums at toddlers (Thank-you Lesley). Collect any broken pieces of crayon and place in a silicon baking tray. Mine happened to be heart shaped, just in time for valentines day! Place in oven at medium heat for 15 minutes. Amazing results but leaves the house a bit smelly.

After they were made I gave the kids one each and said that just like our lives can be “broken” by sin and hurt and selfishness, God makes us a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17) and works all thing out for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28).

2. Bows and arrows
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We went for a walk at the local park and found some sticks. I had brought elastic from my very neglected sewing box and impressed the kids by making up some bows and arrows. At some point in the day I reminded them of the bible story of Noah and Gods plan to defeat sin, hurt and sadness once and for all by sending His son to become sin for us so that He would take the punishment we deserve.

3. Long walk/short walk
I asked the kids what they thought it meant that “Noah walked with God”. We chatted about how you can get all different types of walks. Sometimes we can walk for fun or adventure. Other times we walk the same route every day. And other times we can get lost on a walk or fall and hurt ourselves. In our walk with God He never gets tired or weary (Isaiah 40:28).He patiently guides and encourages us to follow Him. God is interested in every part of our lives and wants us to talk with Him and share our experiences with Him. He is also our guide in times when we get lost or go our own way and helps us back on our feet when we fall. Whether things are good or bad for us, God wants to and promises He will walk with us.

Thoughts
There are certain patterns emerging in my personality. Some of which I am happy with, some I would like to change and some are just down right embarrassing. Recently I spent about an hour negotiating in a mobile phone shop for a new contract. I was very excited at the prospect of getting a new phone. However, when it came to cancelling the contract with my previous provider I was informed I had another year to go on my contract and would have it pay a hefty penalty to leave. Any feelings of disappointment were masked significantly by total humiliation. Once again I had embarrassed myself.

In the story of Noah, just like Adam and Eve, people had once again forgotten to walk with God. There is a pattern throughout history of Gods blessings, followed by mankinds desire to go our own way followed by consequences for sin and each time God provides a way out through forgiveness and a new start. This is a pattern throughout the whole Bible.

God didn’t only rescue Noah from the flood, He gave him a promise and a hope. “The Jesus story Bible” describes how Gods plan for our salvation started before the beginning of time;

“Gods strong anger against hate, sadness and death would come down once more – but not on His people or His world. No, Gods war bow was not pointing down at His people it was pointing up at the heart of heaven”

Noah was on the ark for a long time. He was totally dependant on God and while he may have had doubts and fears he chose to trust in God. Sometimes we don’t “feel” Gods presence, even when we pray, read our Bible and worship Him. Our hope as Christians is not based on how we feel but in God Himself and His unfailing love only found through Jesus. We trust in His promises in His word.

At church on Sunday we sang the golden oldy “My hope is built on nothing less”;

“My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand.”

Sometimes we can all get caught up with our own agendas, thinking we know best and forget to walk with God. Noah did walk with God, but like us he also made mistakes. God however always remains faithful and provides a way out for His people.

How can we ever question the love and purposes of God when we see that from the beginning of time Gods plan was to save us through the sacrifice of His own son?