RSS

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.

 

 

 

 
Leave a comment

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! 

 

 

Tags: , , ,

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.

 

“…we will come out better.”

marriage shadow pictureI am not one to publicly comment on reality shows.  In fact, I rarely watch them.  But I have been completely captivated by a TLC reality show – Jon and Kate plus 8.  I have gotten caught up in the development of all the children, and have for a long time,and have not wanted to believe the tabloids.

What first caught my attention was the fact that Jon and Kate were quite open about their church involvement and the faith that they are teaching to their children.  To have watched the kids at the Creation play, and hearing Alexis sing praise songs to herself – made me want to applaud this family as they raise their children in Godly ways.

Yet, tonight, as I write this – they have announced that they have filed court papers to dissolve their marriage, just less than one year after they made a huge production about renewing their vows, “to show our kids that we will always be together”.  My heart is very heavy – these are not actors, the children are not living out a script – a family, a very public family – is falling apart.

I cannot begin to imagine, nor will I pass any judgement on the reasons for the dissolution of the marriage.  I have not walked in their shoes, nor do I have the ability to see inside their lives.

What bothers me most the fact that those who seek to discount faith in the God of Scripture and the Christian Church, will be able to point another finger of blame, and reason to not trust in God.

It is my prayer for this family – as well as all families – that they will (they may have already) seek Christian counsel with their pastor.  That they have bathed this decision in prayer, and that they will seek to show their children God’s love through all of this.

For all families – I know that life is hard, and can only imagine how difficult it is to be a couple and parents at the same time.  Know this – God planned designed family, and no where in scripture do we see a flawless example of parenting.  God uses our story to show the proof of His grace, and is redemption.  The family is what He uses to show the world, unconditional love.  Even when words and behaviours have hurt us deeply, we are able to move beyond it, only through showing the Grace that He first showed us.

It is also my prayer any church that has a family going through this kind of trial, will rally around them.  Too often the Church is far to quick to back away from a dissolving family, instead of supporting all the members.  That support means prayer, shoulders to cry on…whatever they need.

And that would be an Orange response to a breaking family.  For the church to come along side the family, and be the light to all the members of the family.  There will always be families in crisis among us – God calls us to love them just the same, if not more tenderly than anyone else among us.  Will you extend them the Grace He has showed you?

 

How is your story being written?

blank_book

ripped-family

 

 

 

 

I’m home now,  after a very full 3 days at www.theorangeconference.com.  Words escape me right now, to be able to fully describe, or breakdown all that was presented to us.  The Rethink team through an A-1 conference,  provided a full experience for us.  It was quite something to spend 3 days with 3,000 like minded Children’s Pastors, Sr. Pastors, and Youth Pastors.

I brought home some ideas that can be implemented fairly easily and quickly.  Others will require much prayer and discernment for our context, but I am excited to see what God does with the seed He planted.  I was challenged by some concepts and expectations that I heard, and was deeply encouraged by a number of the speakers.  We are making a difference, even when just one family does one thing new to build into the faith of their children.

One of the most profound moments was during the opening session.  Reggie Joiner (he is the founder of Rethink and Orange), spoke to us about 2 approaches to family ministry- “the Better Picture” and the “Bigger Story”.

A “Better Picture” approach is to teach families that they alway have to strive towards the ideal family – you have probably seen their picture…in any frame you purchase.  The problem with this ideal, is – it doesn’t exist.  No family is perfect (I’ve yet to meet one, anyway).  We all have something that falls short of the “Stock” photo family.  This is very discouraging for the families that fill your pews.  They never measure up, and discouragement leads to disengagement.  Reggie challenged us to help our families rip up their “stock” pictures and to embrace the family that God made them. 

The second approach is the “Bigger Story”.  We all fit into God’s master story.  We all have our account of where God has brought us, and how He is working with and through us know.  We need to let our families find their voice in God’s story…each one is as different as we are.

It is through our brokenness, that God can tell his story of redemption and reconciliation.  Isn’t that a much better story, than fitting into a perfect mold?  I’m ripping up my picture, and looking for my storybook…will you?  Together we can find God’s master plan for us and the families we serve.

 

The innocence of Children

 

children-holding-hands1

Jeff and I were standing at the kiosk of the passport office on Monday.  It’s our day off, and we have had to plan for a Monday when it didn’t matter how long we were having to wait.  Turns out, we were done before 1:00p.m. that day.  Not nearly as bad as we had expected.  While we were at the kiosk, and the lady was making sure all of our documents were in order, I watched a truly moving and remarkable moment.

It all happened so naturally, and neither party realized any one was noticing.  Across the room from us, there were 2 families, each with a toddler, at adjacent kiosks.  These 2 children were behaving and not a peep was heard from either.  They weren’t fidgety, just sitting on the counter, and waiting for mom and dad to be done with the officials.

As I watched, (because as a children’s pastor I just notice kids), the youngest boy stretched out his hand.   The neighbouring child watched for a few moments and then stretched out his own.  He poked the center of the younger boys hand, and the instant response was for the younger child to close his hand around the protruding finger.  Then, the next moment, I watched as the two boys held hands around the partition.  These boys were from 2 cultures that would not normally interact, or even get along.  Yet, here they were, waiting to go home, just calmly holding hands.  At one point, they weren’t even looking at each other, just holding the other’s hand.  They were connected – while all of us in the building were trying very hard to not notice anyone else (except me, who was dying to take a picture – but thought the better of it).

It got me thinking, we all long to be connected.  In the confusion or even the anonymity of life, we need to know that other people are near us, and are experiencing the same thing that we are.  The apostle Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians 12 that, “11 It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, 12 to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

14 Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. 15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. 16 From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.
(from New International Version)

We were designed and gifted to build the body of Christ until we ALL reach unity in the faith…what a cool picture.  God, in His perfect plan, gave each of us gifts to be shared with the others in the Body so that we can reach unity and attain the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.   We can’t reach that unity alone, we need to be connected just as the body is joined and held together by every supporting ligament , (that’s us).  Without ligaments supporting us, we cannot function strongly.

I need you so I can stand tall in challenges, and I in turn will support you when you face your own issues.  We need each other – not to share secrets, or to talk behind the others back, but to support – prayerfully, physically, emotionally – until we are strong again.  Our congregation has as it motto/logo the following:connect500

Without connecting, we cannot ever grow (personally), and a lack of growth will prohibit us from impacting those around us so that they can continue the cycle.  Like those two boys at the passport office, I need your hand to hold.  We don’t have to say much, just know that the other is there.  In this way, the world will see us for Whose we are.