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Category Archives: Family ideas

Activities for families to have eternal conversations with thier children

Hillsong: Let Hope Rise – A Review

lethoperiselogonewIf you are a regular church attendee, and your music has any aspect of contemporary songs in it – you have sung something from Hillsong.  I have long loved their music, and the heart behind the writing of praise songs that are sung the world over.

This movie – really more of a documentary – follows the Hillsong United band through the development of a new album and to aWorship event at the Forum in California.  It was fascinating to watch as the “flashback” scenes culminated in the event.

I loved hearing from Brian Houston, founding pastor when he said that he had wanted to start a church that was music driven and that the music would “connect the soul to heaven”.  He and his wife Bobbie took us back to the place where they first met – with just 100 others.  Since 1983 they have grown from those 100 to 75,000 in 12 countries.

What struck me most as I watched this journey of worship leaders who truly believe that “the songs mean nothing if they aren’t helping people connect to God” as Joel Houston shared, is that they are just real people.  They don’t have huge houses, flashy cars and all that goes with the American experience of celebrity pastors.  The band has a heart to use their talents to lead people in meaningful worship.

The piece has been produced with lyrics on the screen during the worship songs, with the intention of the audience joining in with the music.  Just imagine a theatre full of worshippers singing so loudly that those in the movie complex hear it!  Surely a small taste of heaven…

While there is no question about the centrality of Jesus in the theme of Hillsong’s music, it occurred to me as the movie was coming to its end – that there was not much mention of him outside of the songs.  Brian even said that people should “pour yourself into a local church, and you’ll never be the same”.   Perhaps it is an over reaction on my part, but it’s not enough to be part of a church, it’s the relationship with Jesus that matters and it’s him that makes you not the same.

I loved watching the process of the song writing, even when one song was finished at the very last minute.  To see Joel sitting with his Bible open, pen in hand and journalling his way to the lyrics was lovely.  My very favourite moment though, was the international singing of Mighty to Save.  Just incredible!

Should you have the opportunity to see Hillsong: Let Hope rise – do so.  Better yet, go with your family and/or friends and worship in the theatre right along with the movie.  My thanks to GrafMartin Communications for the opportunity to independently review this movie.

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on October 7, 2016 in book reviews, Family ideas

 

A review of Miracles From Heaven – Sony Pictures

Miracles from heaven now playing

I am the first person to admit to being a skeptic when it comes to movies and books about heavenly revelations.  I have been heard to say – “if God wanted us to know what heaven looked like, I’m pretty sure Jesus would have shared that when He was here.”

I have heard some press about this movie, with Jennifer Garner and Queen Latifah – it definitely had my attention.  Based on a true story, the movie follows the sickness and investigative treatments of Anna Beam and her mother’s, Christy Beam, crisis of faith in the midst of it.  And now that my eyes have dried having watched it, and my suspicions quieted – I’m happy to share my impressions of it.

The movie begins with a of a very normal family living life.  They live on a farm in Texas, where Dad is expanding his vet practice.  The Beams and their 3 daughters love each other, pray in their home and attend a very refreshingly normal church.  Although, I’ve gotta say – it would be pretty fantastic having Mac Powell lead your Worship Team!

An evening bout of stomach sickness for Anna begins a long and exhausting journey of questions and desperation as she is misdiagnosed over and over again.  When a doctor finally realizes the true cause – an incurable disease of the intestines that prevent the digestive system from functioning at all – Christy takes measures to have her treated at all costs.

She and Anna head to Boston to insist and wait on an appointment with the country’s top specialist.  While waiting, Christy and Anna meet Angela, a caring and very friendly waitress who becomes their tour guide around Boston.  When the call for the appointment finally comes, Dr. Nurko believes he can treat Anna.  What seems quite insignificant, yet touching – is an interaction with Dr. Nurko’s Elmo tie.  He admits that his wife doesn’t like it, but that he’s promised to remove it when he has a patient get well.

During her stay in the hospital, we see Anna make an impact on a roommate, while not getting any better.  When she if finally stabilized, she and the family head home.  She heads out to play with her sisters, and becomes involved in a very serious accident on the farm.

It is after her recovery from this that Christy begins to learn just how present miracles and the God who still performs them are.  Anna tells her story and encounter in heaven- and this is where my skeptical expectations stopped.

So many heaven movies try to share all the details of what heaven looks like, who the person met, and the message for mankind that God had for them to take back.  I’ve never been convinced.  Yet, in this account, Anna says that she and God were able to talk without ever seeing each other, and that He promised her she’d be okay when she went back.  She doesn’t meet any people from her past or have details that no one can ever verify.  Just a little girl who was assured of her safety by the God she knows loves her.

I found the most touching moment was the last time we encounter Dr. Nurko.  Christy shares her story poignantly in church and the reminds us of all the places during the journey with Anna where they saw miracles happen.

I was impressed.  This is a high quality Christian movie – so refreshing in the Christian film movie world – and I am pleased to be able to fully recommend this as a family movie.

Movie link has been provided courtesy of Sony Pictures and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.

 

 

 

 

Making the most of 60 minutes

One of my favourite blogs is Enjoying the Small Things, by Kelle Hampton.  The way she writes just makes my day…and her posts brighten my week – the fact that her girls are too cute for their own good doesn’t hurt either.

Today’s post is perfect for this blog.  A mom who is busy, but knows how to carve out real quality time for her girls – this is the stuff memories are made of!

If I was smarter – I’d bring her whole post over to here, but alas, I am not…so here’s the link http://www.kellehampton.com/

Enjoy and be inspired! 

 

 

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Summer boredom buster

So, it’s almost mid-August…how did that happen?…and the heat in our part of the world is stifling.  The kids don’t want to be outside, and you certainly don’t have the energy to entertain them every waking hour.  What to do?

It’s so easy to just have the kids go to the computer to play games, but face it, most computer games are either so trivial that the kids bore easily, or they are so violent that no child should be playing them.  Want a solution to meet both your concern about content, and your children’s need for excitement?  Then let me introduce you to YAHERO…

Developed by friends of my beloved’s and I, it is an action based online multi-player game.  And the best part of all – it’s very purposefully created with a Biblical worldview, without being preachy.

Yahero invited children into a safe environment – only after they have registered your e-mail as well.  And then they head into quests as they discover that:

YAHERO isAn exciting online virtual world where kids become heroes of Yahweh and His Word 

…taking the Bible outside the walls of the church to meet kids where they are online

…inspiring a love for Scripture and improving Biblical literacy for today’s virtual explorers

Another bonus is, with all the quests your child completes, you will receive an email about what happened during the quest; the connected scriptures; and discussion tips for you to have with your child.

http://www.yahero.com is the link to some new and exciting fun.

 

Sun, heat and Jesus

My husband and I are through our Vacation Bible School part of our Summer.  Our churches scheduled things so that I could be at both schools.  It was a great 2 weeks – I’m really tired, but it really was fantastic to spend so much time with the littles we serve.

I start planning my VBS for the following year about 2 weeks after the current year’s program is over.  It’s 11 1/2 months of planning, and it’s over in the blink of an eye.  But really, it’s my favourite time of my year.  It is such a pleasure to work with teams of people who have come together just to be Jesus to a gathered bunch of kids.

The curriculum may differ, and the dynamics of the week are never the same, but the goal of both of our week-long events are identical – to teach children (and hopefully their parents) how much Jesus loves them.  More than half of the children at either Camp are not regular church attenders, with some having never been in a Christ-focused setting.

It was important at both schools that we presented the Bible truths in a way that didn’t assume that our guests knew anything about God’s Word – as one young man illustrated when he asked me “What makes Jesus so special?”  I could have responded with a pat answer, but instead we had a great conversation about who Jesus was and why He was so special…

It was a beautiful thing at the Adventure Camp at SGK to watch the kids worship with the leadership of Nikki Fletcher.  She has such a great way with the kids, and became our own in-house rock star.  Children are natural worshippers  – raised voices and hands, and love to learn new songs that are engaging.  At one point, they brough tears to my eyes as they praised God singing “Mighty to save”…that song will never be the same for me again – and I will cherish that.

At St. Paul’s, I had the joy to spend the week being one of the leaders with the grade 3-4 group of kids.  I love this age group…they have questions, and are hungry for the answer – and they just want to “Get it”.  We had a ton of fun, and it warmed my heart to see them hiding God’s Word in their hearts as they proudly recited all 5 memory verses (complete with addresses).

My concern and passion for these kids is finding a way to have the learning that took place during our week(s) together not be lost after the following Monday.  To that end, I make a commitment to my families that I will have follow-up activities for them to engage in with their kids.  It’s not just me.  Recently my blog was mentioned in the May/June issue of Group Publishing’s Children’s Ministry Magazine: http://www.childrensministry.com/article.asp?ID=2418.  The article has great suggestions for being intentional with family follow-up from a Vacation Bible School program.

They and their children were engaged for a week at your church, don’t let that engagement go stale.  Encourage them, help the children remember what they talked about during the week.  Pray for them, and let them know that you are.  That is a summer church program with an Orange focus…equipping families to “water the seeds” that were planted during your week with their children.

Jeff and I are getting our follow ups ready to go, and we will continue to pray – for the children we had the honour of spending our time with.  For the parents who want to know that their children’s eternities are in order, and for the families that seek to make their walk with Jesus more significant for all their members.

 

Lifted out of the Can

Yesterday, in light of the text of our message at church, I told the following story.  Our scripture focus was the parable of the Lost Sheep (Luke 15: 3-7).

The story is true…I know the little girl very well, although I never knew her as a little girl…

There once was a little girl, who lived out the truth of her redheaded-ness.  She was mischievous and had a definite mind of her own.  She lived in the city of London, many years ago.  On this particular day, it was a hot summer day in 1936, and she was about 7.  She had decided that she was not happy with something that had happened at home, and determined to take matters into her own hands.  So she ran away.

Her family noticed that she was gone, and began to look for her.  After a considerable time had passed, her daddy started to get worried, and knew he needed help to find her.  Remember that this was not long after the Great Depression, and money was not readily available.  Her daddy knew that if he called the police and fire departments, he would have to pay.

But his daughter was very important to him, and that’s just what he did.  He paid $200 for the assistance (that’s about $3200 in today’s money). It was much more money than he could afford, but she was special enough that he had no other choice.   So, with the additional people looking for her, the search intensified.  The little girl could hear the people calling her name, and the whole time she was thinking, ” how powerful am I?”  What the searchers did not know, was that the little girl was hiding in a garbage can in a park, not very far from the little girl’s home.

Remember that I said it was a hot summer day?  That little girl, despite all her plans, could not help but be affected by the odors that the hot, rotting garbage were creating, and she got sick to her stomach not something that could be done quietly. Her daddy stood very quietly and listened – and it was by her reaction to the smells – that he was able to find her.

As I told that story, it occurred to me – how much like our Heavenly father is that?  When we decide that we need to hide from him (we really are descendants of Adam and Eve), we often find a spot where we are sure He will never find us.  And that usually involves garbage.  That garbage can be all kinds of addictions: drug, sex, shopping, social networking, alcohol, gambling, etc…), or we seek out self-damaging situations, or dabble in “enlightened” paths that lead us away from God (occult, Eastern spirituality). We kid ourselves into thinking that we are “powerful”, and don’t need God in our life.   Being so immersed in this garbage, will eventually make us sick – not always physically (although that can happen), but emotionally, and spiritually.  So, what does God do?

He continues to find us, and the extra help comes in the form of everyday people like you and me.  People who know Jesus, and want to bring you back to safety. And the cost?  God gave us everything He has – His first-born Son.  Jesus, that baby born so long ago, was born crucified.  His first day as fully human, began the countdown to the greatest rescue ever.  He died to pay the price for you and me.  It cost him everything, and he did it willingly.  Just because we are that special to Him.

When we know this, we need to share that good news with other who haven’t met Him yet.  Listen to the heart cries of your friends and family from inside their personal “garbage cans”.  Introduce them, through your love and care, to the One who came to lift us out…

 

 
 

Charming addition to my children’s story collection

I was excited to open the package holding the newest book to my children’s storybooks.  The I Believe Bunny is the first in a series by Tish Rabe and charmingly illustrated  by Frank Endersby.

This charming book is written in easy flowing poetry – which will quickly engage even the youngest of readers.  It’s focal Bible point is from Philippians 4:13, I can do everything through him who gives me strength.  Such a great verse for all of us to remember, and what a gift to introduce it early to little ones.

Bunny’s not having a very good day…it’s raining and Bunny has had enough.  He turns down an invitation to play with his friends, because he’s waiting for the rain to stop.  But, when mouse gets caught in the river, Bunny knows just what to do…and although he’s not sure he has the strength to save her, so he stops and prays.

Just then – God sends the solution.  A very important lesson and a model for our children.  If we pray before facing any situation, God will hear, and we will be ready to face it.

I’m truly looking forward to what comes next in this series – it is definitely destined for our local Church library.