come and see

John 1:46 “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” Nathanael asked.“Come and see,” answered Philip.


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Strong Foundations – The Wise and Foolish Builders

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” (Matthews 7:24-27)
 

Our craft to illustrate the Parable of the Wise and Foolish builders was quick and simple, but still very effective:
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Now although small, the rocks do have a bit of weight to them, so ordinary cardboard will not do for the backing. I managed to beg some offcuts of picture mounting board from a local picture framer and then chose to place a thin piece of card on top of that to make it more visually appealing.

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  • First, write your message on the card.
  • Next, use something sharp – I have a small embroidery stiletto- to make four holes in the cards (do the backing and front cards together). Make sure these holes are just inside the outline of the stones.
  • The next bit is the most tricky. Using two pieces of red ribbon (ours were 20cm long, but it depends on the size of your rocks), thread the two ends of one through two opposite holes, and the other through the other two holes – do not pull tight yet! Put the stone in place underneath the ribbon; we used glue dots to make sure it stayed in place. Then turn the card over, pull the ribbon tight, and tie all the ends together.
  • You may want to add more ribbon to use as a hanger for these little plaques.

 

We found some fantastic resources from other people to use this week – here are the links. And at the end of the page you will find the prayers which we wrote for the service. www.max7.org have a great video of the story:

 
and www.missionbibleclass.org have a fun version of “The Wise Man Built his House upon the Rock”

And from www.dramatix.org.nz we used their skit “House Building 101″

Prayers:
Jesus is the rock on which we build our faith and our life. Hold on to these rocks as we pray, just as we hold on to the presence of Jesus here with us and in our daily lives.
 
When I say: Lord, in the name of Jesus, our rock and foundation
The response is: Hear our prayer
 
And in the pauses, you are invited to add your own prayers – aloud or in your hearts.
 
Loving God, when the foundations of our world shake and crumble, we know that we can stand firm on your promises.
 
We pray for the people of Nepal. For all who have lost family, friends, and homes, and for all who are providing aid and assistance. We of all people know that the road to recovery is not easy, and the Nepalese are only just starting on that journey. We pray for them as they rebuild their lives and communities.
 
Lord, in the name of Jesus, our rock and foundation
Hear our prayer
 
We pray for all those beset by the storms of ill-health. Let Your healing Spirit work in their minds and bodies, restoring them to strength and well-being.
 
Lord, in the name of Jesus, our rock and foundation
Hear our prayer
 
We pray for the rebuilding of the Community of Faith, both here and throughout our country and the world, and for all who work to build your Church, bringing light and hope to those whose lives are built on shifting sands. Strengthen and uphold all who minister in Christ’s name.
 
Lord, in the name of Jesus, our rock and foundation
Hear our prayer
 
We pray for our own homes and families. Let your love and compassion be a guiding force in our lives and our relationships with others. Make us alive to the needs of our own community, and help us to share one another’s joys and burdens.
 
Lord, in the name of Jesus, our rock and foundation
Hear our prayer
 
When the storms of life rage, Lord keep us safe in the strength of Your Word and promises.
Amen

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A Wildlife Encounter – Daniel 6: 1-23

A couple of weeks ago we were looking at the story of Daniel in the Lions Den, and we had great fun playing this game, “Daniel, the Lion, and the King” from Expert Village

 

THE MESSAGE:
Daniel is one of the people I remember clearly from the Bible Stories told in my childhood. I loved hearing about how he faced certain death: once in a fiery furnace (that’s another story) and again in the lion’s den. Don’t worry he survived both times. I remember that in both stories a King made a law that you weren’t allowed to worship or pray to God, and if you did – the punishment was death.

King Nebuchadnezzar had Daniel thrown in a fiery furnace, King Darius had Daniel thrown in a lions den. And as I said earlier, God protected him both times.

And so I came to look at the story of Daniel in the Lion’s Den thinking of how he stayed true to his faith and continued to pray to God even though he knew it would mean facing death. Prayer is the way we communicate with God. It is the way we form and grow our relationship with him and to Daniel prayer was more precious than life, even more important than life. “You will have to take my life before you take my prayer”? Is that something you could say? Could you dare to be a Daniel?

Earlier I said I remember clearly the story of Daniel in the lions’ den, but I don’t remember anything about King Darius. But this time I won’t forget him. King Darius was the new ruler of Babylon, and he wanted to keep a close eye on his empire. There was a lot of corruption as people in the King’s service were stealing from him.  King Darius wanted that to stop so he appointed people to help him. Daniel began to shine. He was wise, faithful, honest and had integrity. Here was a man that could really help King Darius run things, and so he decided to make Daniel in charge of everyone. That would be good news for Daniel, but bad news for everyone else. Daniel wouldn’t steal and they would have to stop stealing, or they would have to stop Daniel. They can’t find any fault in Daniel’s work so they look to find fault in Daniel. These men are cunning and get King Darius to pass a special 30 day law that can not be changed – a law stopping any form of prayer. This law was aimed directly at Daniel with both barrels loaded. But it had much wider ramifications. It not only affected Daniel, but every faithful Jew in Babylon could also have been charged, convicted, and put to death if they too continued to pray to God.

King Darius didn’t realise that it would be stopping Daniel from praying, which Daniel did 3 times a day. Daniel stayed true to his faith, and continued talking to God, continued praying as he had always done even with the very real threat of death in the lions den. So of course Daniel is caught and taken to the King.

Now I am just going to summarise verses14-20:
This was not King Darius’ idea. King Darius did not want to send Daniel to the Lions den. He worked hard all day to find some way to rescue Daniel. But the law he made had to be enforced. King Darius reluctantly takes Daniel to the lions and the last words he says to Daniel are these “May your God whom you are serving continually save you.” The stone gets rolled across, and King Darius places his own royal seal on the stone so no one could rescue Daniel. Then he walks away. That night King Darius doesn’t eat or sleep. First thing in the morning as soon there is light, he hurries down not knowing what he would find and calls out “Daniel, servant of the Living God, has your God whom you serve continually been able to rescue you from the lions?”

And that is what I now find very interesting about this story. Although it is called Daniel in the Lions Den, these verses are actually all about the King. Daniel and Daniel’s God sure had his attention. This makes me think about our lives  and wonder who is watching us and wondering when the Lord will show up. When He is constantly healing, working, and bringing life to us – are we paying enough attention to notice our daily blessings?  Enough for others to take notice? Are we actually recognising and praising Him for the little or large lion’s dens we face where we can show our faith in God? Is His presence in our lives making a difference in those around us?

My final note is a word that frequently and repeatedly kept popping up again and again in my message. I mean CONTINUALLY. Daniel served and prayed to God continually and others saw that. And it was through that frequent contact with God that made Daniel shine. That made others take notice: there were those who wanted him dead and then there was King Darius who wanted him to stay alive. The way others learnt about God was through Daniel’s actions and God’s action in Daniel’s life.

Just think there are people we know who may not know God, and they could be watching us to see how God affects our lives. Just imagine if we stayed in continual, regular and frequent contact with God that it becomes the most important thing in our life, more important than life. Others may want to know more about God through our actions and God’s action in our lives. I simply ask again Could you dare to be a Daniel?

Vanessa


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A Wet Walk – Matthew 14:22-33

This week we were looking at the story of Jesus walking on water – and of Peter trying to do so too.

THE GAME:
We thought a game about crossing water was a good idea, so we designated the carpet area as “water” and distributed three “stepping stones” (made out of cardboard) to each team so that they could get across. So, three “stepping stones” – but there were four people in each team!

IMG_0836This is how the game is played:

  • First person puts down a “stepping stone” and stands on it, then puts down a second one in front of that and moves forward.
  • Second person moves onto the “stones”, passing forward the last “stone” so that it can go down at the front.
  • Now first two people stand on the front “stone”, next two people stand on the middle “stone”, and the last “stone” gets passed forward to become the front one.
  • Repeat the above step until everyone has reached the other side of the “water”!

Much of the fun of this comes in making the “stepping stones” only just big enough for two people. You can adjust the number of “stepping stones” you have, depending on how many people you have in each team, but never have enough so that you can have only one person on each “stone”. So, for three or four people, have three “stones”, for 5 people have four stones, and so on. To make it more challenging – perhaps where all the players are a bit older (we had a big mix of ages) – get the last person to carry the “stepping stone” forward, squeezing past their team mates on the front “stones”.

IMG_0840THE CRAFT:
Later on in the service we made boats out of walnut shells, with toothpick masts and paper sails. On the sails we had our memory verse:

“We must keep our eyes on Jesus” (Hebrews 12:2)

The masts were held in place with Blu-Tak, and several of the children drew eyes or stick figures on the sails.

 

THE MESSAGE:
Peter walks on water

Earlier that day Jesus had preached and performed the miracle of feeding 5000 people with 5 loaves and 2 fish. I would call that “a big day in the office.” Afterwards Jesus needed some time alone with God to pray. Take note, if you have had “a big day in the office”, before your next appointment recharge your batteries and have time in prayer –  Jesus did it, and so must we.

Now back to the story, Jesus sent the disciples out on the lake to go on before him. A big storm came up, a frighteningly scary storm, and then, while all this is raging around them, they see someone walking towards the boat, and they think it’s a ghost. Now I would be like “Seriously could this night get any worse.”

Then Jesus spoke: “It’s me,” and out of all the disciples, Peter was the one who called back. “If it is you, command me to come.” Peter didn’t want to asked and be given the option to say no, he wanted to be told, and so Jesus said “Come.” Peter got out of the boat and walked on water to Jesus. He had his eyes fixed on Jesus and he was walking on water with the storm raging around him. When Peter obeyed Jesus and moved out in faith, he walked on water.

The others stayed in the safety of the boat, they had faith in the boat.
What’s your boat? When life gets stormy, where or what do you put your faith in?

Peter had to leave the safety of the boat, step out of his comfort zone, and do the impossible. Peter had his eyes fixed firmly on Jesus to the exclusion of everything that was happening around him – the wind and the waves – and he walked on water towards Jesus, to the one who had called him to come.

Jesus knew about the storm coming and yet he told the disciples to go out on the lake. In the midst of the storm, Jesus walked out to them. And Peter went to meet him – with his eyes on Jesus. But then he noticed the waves, he felt the wind and thought “what am I doing,” and when his focus shifted, he started to sink and cried out in fear. Instantly, just like that, Jesus reached out and held Peter and said “You of little faith – why did you doubt?”  And for this failure, many who have read this have given Peter a hard time.

But there is such a positive truth about this story; when we fail, when we are in the middle of a storm and call out to Jesus, instantly and immediately he is there holding our hand. We are never alone – even if it looks and feels like it.

Peter experienced a miracle – he was the only one to have walked on water. He experienced the joy of being saved by Jesus in his moment of fear. Peter shared a moment and a connection the others didn’t – they never left the boat.

Had there been no storm, none of this would have happened. Peter’s faith wouldn’t have been tested. Growth and fear go together. It is always scary to do something new. Growth requires us to take on new challenges, and it is our faith that conquers the fear and doubts. If Jesus has called you, don’t worry about sinking. Remember, keep your eyes on Jesus and call out for his hand when you need him. He will be there instantly.

 Vanessa

THE PRAYERS:

Lord, we come before You this morning, reaching for Your outstretched hand, crying “Lord, save me!”
You hear.

When we keep our eyes on you,
we know that we are safe from the storm.

We pray that the eyes of all in authority and power may become focused on You, lord, that they may work with honesty and integrity for the good of those that they lead. Lead them to know that –
when we keep our eyes on you,
we know that we are safe from the storm.

We pray for Your church in this world, and particularly in this place. Let us be lights for others, that they may be led into the light of Your grace, and come to focus their eyes on You. For,
when we keep our eyes on you,
we know that we are safe from the storm.

We pray for all who suffer, in body, mind or spirit, that they may know Your healing touch in their lives. We bring to you especially ……(name those whose suffering we wish to bring to God)
when we keep our eyes on you,
we know that we are safe from the storm.

We commend to you those who have died, and we pray for those who mourn, who seek answers to the losses they have suffered. In all that we think we have lost,
when we keep our eyes on you,
we know that we are safe from the storm.

Lord, we come before You this morning, reaching for Your outstretched hand, crying “Lord, save me!”

You hear.

Amen

Gail


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Healing at the Pool – John 5: 1-8

Recently we looked at Jesus’ healing of the lame man at the pool of Bethsaida. Instead of reading the story from the Bible ourselves, we used this clip from the the Visual Bible:

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For our craft we made “rock pools” using blue plastic plates (I found some with a wavy pattern on them) and small stones and rocks glued on the edges. Only problem we found was that the glue took a while to set, so the stones were not securely attached when the children were taking the plates home – caution was advised.

 

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The Message:

Let me ask you a question? Do you want a chocolate? Wow that was a quick answer. Let’s look again at what the man answered when Jesus asked him if he wanted to be well? 
(Here we showed the clip again from 0.54 to 1.13)

He had been sick for 38 years, not minutes, not days, not weeks…. 38 years. And he was there waiting to get into the bubbling pool to be healed, and had been beaten to it every single time. You would think if someone asked if he wanted to be well, it would a very quick yes, but it wasn’t. Instead he answered why he CAN’T get well. When Jesus asked this man the question he had wanted for 38 years to come true, he hadn’t listened to Jesus speaking to him. Instead he was focused on himself and not present in that moment. He said what he would have told himself time and time again so it became an automatic response.

What if Jesus was right here, right now standing in front of you and asks “do you want to be well?” “Do you want to be all God intended you to be when He made you?”

Do you hear Jesus or what you have been saying to yourself time and time again?

“But you don’t understand I have a lot on at the moment”

“But I don’t deserve it, someone else always gets your blessing, not me”

“But I like being taken care of”

“But I know this life, I don’t know what that kind of life that would be like- too scary for me to give you control”

‘But……..”

Jesus heard not his words but his heart, and gave him the answer to being well. And this man didn’t even know it was Jesus, the well-known healer, the Son of God.

Jesus told him “Rise, take up your bed and walk” He did and was healed. How many times had he struggled to do just this – and instead of listening to his excuses – this time he listened, believed, trusted and obeyed Jesus and he got the miracle of healing he had wanted.
(show clip from 1.13- to 2.08)

Once again we see that the miracle is the unexpected. How did God bring down the city walls of Jericho? Have Joshua’s army march around them. How did Jesus heal a lame man? Tell him to get up. Joshua wanted to take the city of Jericho and trusted and obeyed what God told him to do.  The lame man wanted to be well and trusted and obeyed what Jesus told him to do. And I believe it is in our trust and obedience that miracles happen.

Vanessa

 

The Prayers:

Lord, the noise of our own self-importance fills this world, deafening us to your words, blinding us to the possibilities you lay before us, and closing our minds to the miracles you want to work in our lives.

We take at face value the accepted knowledge of the world, failing to open ourselves to your infinite grace and healing gifts.

At a time when conflicts are increasing, when world neighbours turn against each other, when a decision taken in one country causes terror and grief in another, open our ears to hear your voice.

Where the world speaks words of hate and war
Let your words of peace and reconciliation be heard

Where the world speaks words of sorrow and despair
Let your words of comfort and hope be heard

Where the world speaks words of sickness and mourning
Let your words of healing and strength be heard

Where the world speaks words of selfishness and self-reliance
Let your words of love for one another be heard

Where the world speaks … let us instead listen to you, Lord,
and hear your words of grace and forgiveness in our lives every day.

Amen


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God the Potter – Isaiah 64:8

You, Lord, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand. Isaiah 64:8

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Busy making play-doh – look at those colours!

We used this verse as our basis for the Extreme Makeover – the God Edition service. And what better way to illustrate that than to make play-doh. Am I the only person in the world that thinks play-doh is horrible stuff? Well, I was certainly in the minority on Sunday when everyone else enthusiastically joined in with making it.

For our prayer activity we asked everyone to make something out of the play-doh to represent what they wanted to bring to God in prayer. Those who wished to were able to speak about their creations. After the service, the kids got to take the play-doh home in jam jars.

This is the recipe we used for the play-doh:

Ingredients
2 cups flour
1/2 cup salt
2 tablespoons cooking oilIMG_06452 tablespoons cream of tartar
2 cups boiling water1 teaspoon food colouring

Mix all dry ingredients, add oil and boiling water with food colouring, mix well.

 

 

 

And Sharon Kirby has written a beautiful poem on the theme of God the potter – God is shaping me – which we used as part of our prayers.

 


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The Lord’s Prayer (part 4) – review and recall

(see also our other Lord’s Prayer posts: part 1 – I cannot say; part 2 – a fridge magnet memory verse; part 3 – The Lord’s Prayer with props)

At the end of our service on the Lord’s Prayer we brought out this board with only parts of the prayer written on it. The missing words were printed on slips of paper and distributed around the group. We then worked our way through the prayer and the person holding the missing words came up and stuck them on. This was a quick, simple, and fun way to review the Lord’s Prayer and check how well the children could recall it.

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The Lord’s Prayer (part 3) – this time with props

(see also our other posts on The Lord’s Prayer: part 1 – I cannot say; part 2 – a fridge magnet memory verse; part 3 – review and recall)

I can’t remember where we found this idea from – it was from one of the many books we have looked at over the years. We made a note of the ideas and put it aside for the right time to use it.

The idea is to have objects to focus the group’s minds on each phrase of the Lord’s Prayer. These are the objects we used, but you may wish to make some substitutions to make it more relevant to the version of the prayer that your group is familiar with.

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Our Father – a picture of a father and child

in heaven – a model of the solar system

hallowed be your name – a printed picture of hands raised in worship

your kingdom come – a national flag (we had a French one)

your will be done – a recent newspaper

on earth as in heaven – a globe of the earth

give us today our daily bread – a loaf of bread

forgive us our sins, as we forgive those that sin against us – a cross

Save us from the time of trial – a toy judge’s gavel

and deliver us from evil – a book entitled “The Two World Wars”

For the kingdom – a paper crown

the power – a picture of parliament

and the glory are yours –  an “Oscar” statuette

Now and forever. Amen – a stopped clock.


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The Lord’s Prayer (part 2) – a fridge magnet memory verse

(see also our other Lord’s Prayer posts: part 1 – I cannot say; part 3 – The Lord’s Prayer with props; part 4 – reveiw and recall)

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As part of our service on The Lord’s Prayer the children made small fridge magnets with a printed copy of the prayer.  The idea for this one came from The Catholic Toolbox blog, for which many thanks. This craft uses popsicle sticks, a printed Lord’s Prayer, and sticky magnetic tape (if you cannot get hold of stick magnetic tape – which comes on a roll like sellotape – use up some of those free advertising magnets that always seem to appear)

IMG_0269The Lord’s Prayer needs to be printed in quite a small font – around 9 point- to make sure it will fit within the square you make with the popsicle sticks. Take 4 of the sticks and glue two on each side edge of the printed prayer; then glue two more across the top, and two across the bottom, making a square. It is up to you (or rather, the children) how much overlap there is on the corners. Stick magnetic tape/recycled advertising magnets to the back (best to do it on the four corners), and there you have it – put it up on the fridge and it can be read every time they head there for refreshments!


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The Lord’s Prayer (part 1) – I cannot say

This week we focused on the Lord’s Prayer at our Come & See service. We have been encouraging the younger ones to try to learn this by heart and wanted some ways to help them fix the words in their minds, but as our services are made up of adults as well as children, we needed to give them some things to ponder. As a result this service had several elements which we would like to share with you. To make it easier to navigate we will use four separate posts for this, and we hope that some or all of them can be helpful to you all.

Below is the text of Vanessa message this week. You can also look at:- part 2 – a fridge magnet memory verse; part 3 – the Lord’s Prayer with props; and part 4 – review and recall.

The Lord’s Prayer – I cannot say….

Prayer is unnatural as we are inherently independent, trying do it in our own strength and that is one thing I think I have heaps of, strength, and it’s something I am constantly reminded of how little I really have. Luke had a favourite saying when he was two “Lukey do it” and has spent, and will spend many years developing and gaining independence from us, his parents.

So of course prayer can be unnatural as we need to become childlike again and hand back to God the independence we have worked so hard to obtain.

Be truthful when you pray.  Be honest about  how you are feeling. We all have things we keep locked up, hidden away, never talked about and shared. God knows what you are been through, what you are thinking and what you are feeling and if you aren’t being honest with Him, the only thing you must be is lying.

Prayer pursues a personal relationship with God and as with any relationship it needs time together to grow and develop. Just as the more time we spend with someone we find out more about them, it is the same with God.

In the reading today (Matthew 6v 9-13) Jesus talks about how to pray and gives us the Lord’s Prayer.

Here is something I have had for a long time and love the way it looks at it…

I cannot say OUR if I live in a watertight spiritual compartment , if I think a special place in heaven is reserved for my denomination, just my church alone.

I cannot say FATHER if I do not demonstrate that relationship in my daily life.

I cannot say IN HEAVEN if I am so occupied with the earth that I am laying up no treasure up there.

I cannot say HALLOWED BE YOUR NAME if I, who am called by His name, am not holy, or if I do not give His name the honour and respect it deserves.

I cannot say YOUR KINGDOM COME if I am not doing all in my power to bring about its coming.

I cannot say YOUR WILL BE DONE if I am questioning, resentful or disobedient to God’s will for me.

I cannot say ON EARTH AS IN HEAVEN if I am not prepared to devote my life here to His service.

I cannot say GIVE US TODAY OUR DAILY BREAD if I am feeding on past experience.

I cannot say FORGIVE US OUR SINS AS WE FORGIVE THISE WHO SIN AGAINST US if I harbour a grudge against anyone.

I cannot say SAVE US FROM THE TIME OF TRIAL if I deliberately place myself or remain in a position where I am likely to be tempted.

I cannot say DELIVER US FROM EVIL if I am not prepared to fight it in the spiritual realm with the weapon of prayer.

I cannot say FOR THE KINGDOM if I do not give God the King the disciplined obedience of a loyal subject.

I cannot say THE POWER if I fear what people may say or do or think.

I cannot say AND THE GLORY ARE YOURS I am seeking glory for myself.

I cannot say NOW AND FOR EVER if my horizon is bounded by the things of time.

I cannot say AMEN if I do not also add “cost what it may” for to say this prayer honestly will cost everything.

(Message by Vanessa)