come and see

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


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5+ a day – the Fruit of the Spirit

With our last service being the Challenge of Pentecost, we thought it would be logical to move on to the Fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:16-23). But how could we hope to teach about all of the fruit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control – in one 40 minute slot, and still have time for games, songs and craft? Easy – break it into 3 parts. So last Sunday we started with Love, Joy & Peace.

IMG_0291We loved the Paper Bag Fall Tree from Pikadilly Charm’s blog, so adapted it to illustrate the Fruit of the Spirit, printing sticky labels (use a lot of those!) with each of the virtues from the reading and using those instead of leaves to decorate our trees. With the addition of a Holy Spirit in the form of a dove/flame, our children will have a quirky reminder of the gifts of the Spirit.

Who remembers The Generation Game? Or am I showing my age and Englishness? For those that don’t remember, at the end of the show the winner was shown a conveyor belt full of goodies; those items that the contestant could remember afterwards were the ones that they got to take home. There was ALWAYS at least one cuddly toy! As a fun way to get everyone to remember the nine Fruit of the Spirit, we did our own version of the game on Power Point, and got everyone calling out the various items that had appeared on the “conveyor belt”. Check it out here: 5+ a day memory test

And, as usual, Vanessa’s message was right on the mark:

LOVE, JOY, PEACE – FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT
(2 June 2013)

Well Gail and I have followed Hollywood and are doing our first trilogy. Yes you are in store for a three part series on the fruit of the spirit.

So the first three: love, joy and peace are what I am talking about today.

LOVE:

I love God,  I love chocolate, I love gardening,, I love my ukulele, I love lots of things and I am sure you love lots of things too – anyone want to tell me what you love? So we all have love – that was easy.

Hang on – I don’t have love all the time. I don’t love idiot drivers, I don’t love long checkout queues, I don’t love boiled mushy brussel sprouts  and I do not love being afraid.  I have very real fears. Fear of the unknown, fear of failure, fear of not being enough.

Gail gave me a bible verse the other day: 1 John 4:18. There is no fear in love. Perfect love drives out all fear.  In 1967 The Beetles knew it – all we need is love. And the ONLY place to get it is from God, for God IS love.  We need to fill that moment of fear, anger, hate or frustration (which does not come from God) with the love of God , we are drawn back to Him.

There were only TWO commandments that Jesus gave us  –  Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all strength and with all your mind, and love everyone else as you love yourself. (Luke 10:27). I had someone who I struggled with – just grated me the wrong way and it wasn’t someone I could just take out of my phone, delete from my contacts and then not deal with – that would have been easy. I had to see them and talk to them often and it was hard. Sometimes I would get nervous and my tummy would get in knots, sometimes I got frustrated and I couldn’t say what I wanted. I prayed that they would change – well that didn’t work. I prayed that I would change, change the way I felt about them, accept them and yes love them and that worked. So I thought that’s great I got this love thing sorted, I know what to do there now.

But no – next for me was dealing with my fears and the answer God gave me was love. This bit is a work in progress but the thing is it’s better than it was. That’s the thing I find with being a Christian as we face things with God, He teaches us and if we listen and learn, it makes us wiser. There will never be a time on this earth when any of us reach perfection – the only one who was perfect was Jesus. It’s a process of growth as our fruit of the Spirit develops, as we transform into who God has planned us to be – each one of us unique, special  – one of a kind.

Moving on to JOY:

Ready …. If you’re happy and you know it clap your hands – clap, clap. Anyone else what to join in who’s feeling happy. If you’re happy and you know it clap your hands – clap, clap. Great – that was easy we are all happy.

Hang on, sometimes I feel sad and we have all been sad at some time, and happiness is not joy. Happiness depends on our circumstances, our mood, and is momentary. A sunny day can make us happy, good news can make us happy, a funny joke or photo can make us happy. But Joy is deep rooted and constant. It is inside us, not outside of us. It comes from the Holy Spirit. Jesus said this in John 15:11 “I have told you these things, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be of full measure and complete and overflowing.” That’s the thing with God and his blessings, He never says “and may you have not enough” and keep you wanting; He never says “may you have just enough to satisfy”. He says “and may it be of full measure and complete and overflowing.” Do you  get it – more than you need. That’s our God.

One thing that blocks our joy is talking and thinking about our problems. Unhappy people make others unhappy. Joyce Meyer says an unhappy Christian is an oxymoron  – it just shouldn’t be, they are two opposites – unhappy and Christian. In the Bible it tell us: We have eternal life through the death and resurrection of Jesus (John 3:16), We have a God that wants us to give him all our burdens and worries and He will give us rest (Matthew 11:28-30). We have a God that will not test us beyond what we can cope with (I Corinthian 10:13). We have a God that loves us with a love that we can never be separated from  (Romans 8:39) WE have a God that wants to give us an overflowing blessed life. (John 10:10) So why are we unhappy and  unsatisfied – Simply, we are human. Once again I say, it’s a process – as we are tested we grow. In James 1:2-3 it says Consider it all joy when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.

PEACE:

And finally peace. We are living in peacetime – NZ is not at war with anyone. So technically  we are at peace – that was easy.

You’ve probably guessed it – it’s not that easy at all.

Here’s a slogan I saw years ago:  No God, No Peace; Know God, Know Peace.

Clever and true.  And I believe there are three kinds of peace: Peace WITH God (upward peace), Peace OF God (inward peace) and Peace WITH each other (outward peace).

We can’t have THE peace of God until we have A piece of God. The only way you have A piece of God is having a personal relationship with Him – it is up to you, not Him. It is the daily decisions you make, not Him. No one else in this world can have your relationship with God. It’s personal- one to one. God is there always, waiting for you to say hi. Read the Bible, talk to him in prayer and listen to what He says to you – it is full of love, it will give you peace, it will challenge you, it will make you laugh – and it’s just between you and Him.

2 Thessalonians 3:16 Now may the Lord of peace Himself grant you His peace at all times and in all ways, under all circumstances and conditions, whatever comes.
We need to make peace with who we are, where we are and what surrounds us. Worry is the war against peace. Peace comes from trusting God  – not by asking “why?”

So, finally, we want these qualities now: love, joy and peace –but it is fruit we are talking about. Some things we pray for come instantly, but fruit doesn’t. A seed needs to be planted in the right soil, shoots appear, it blossoms and then fruit forms and ripens. It’s a process. When we appreciate and wonder at the marvel of God’s grace to us, then we are motivated to respond in ways that please Him, the Holy Spirit gives us the strength to walk in ways we previously thought impossible. We shall stumble and fall at times, of course, but remember we are on a journey of spiritual growth.

Vanessa

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The Challenge of Pentecost

Vanessa’s gave a powerful message at yesterday’s Pentecost service; she commented “All I can say is God was doing the typing and I am so blessed to have been chosen to say these words”.

The Challenge of Pentecost

Pentecost – let me set the scene with the back story – a bit of history. There were a group of guys who followed Jesus – the disciples. During his ministry the people loved Jesus and many flocked to see him, hear him and be healed by him. The Bible talks about throngs of people, crowds, multitudes and masses. You know like a good crowd we get for a Crusaders game – Jesus let’s say he’s Ritchie McCaw and those disciples the team.  Everyone cheering. It would have been so exciting to be part of that. Imagine being one of them, part of that famous group, one of the IN crowd …. and then Jesus was arrested.

In the Gospel of Luke,  it says “They arrested Jesus and took him away into the house of the High Priest and Peter followed at a distance.” Then Peter denies knowing Jesus three  times before morning – he didn’t want to be known as one of the followers of Jesus.  I think about the challenge we sometimes face in saying “yes, I am a Christian” to others and maybe even to ourselves “Yes I am a Christian”.

So Jesus is then tried, the people, the crowd who once shouted hosanna for Jesus, now call for his blood, his crucifixion. Jesus dies and it’s not so great anymore to be part of THAT group, one of those followers of Jesus. What happens next? – Jesus rises from the dead.  In his appearances to those who knew him they do not recognise him; then it’s a look, a word, a miracle and they realise it is Him.

Peter and some others were out fishing and they hadn’t caught a thing until a man on the shore tells them to cast their net on the other side of the boat. They do so, obey the command and their net overflows with fish ……. and they realise it’s Jesus. After sharing a meal together, Jesus calls Peter to the side. And asks Peter three times if he loves him, and three times Peter says “You know that I love you, You know that I love you, You know that I love you.” Three times he denied and three times he accepts. Whose sake was that for – Jesus or Peter?

As Jesus is about to ascend to heaven  these are his last words on earth, as told in Acts 1: “when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, you will be filled with power, ability, efficiency and might and you will be my witnesses to the ends of the earth.”

Wahoo – They begin to look forward to the arrival of the Holy Spirit. They anticipate….it’s coming. Hang around… for it’s coming. Kill some time ……….…. it’s coming. And then wait  some more. Wait for 50 days. Did some of the followers not last the whole 50 days, couldn’t face the challenge of waiting – just like in the play*. Are you waiting for something to happen and it’s a challenge. Are you finding your patience tested and it’s a challenge?  Are you struggling with God’s timing – I know it’s a challenge.

And for those who saw it through, who passed the test. were anointed in a powerful way, a life-changing way “ when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, you will be filled with power, ability, efficiency and might and you will be my witnesses to the ends of the earth.” Peter, now anointed with the Holy Spirit, went out and spoke to the crowd and brought 3000 people to Christ. Peter became the leader, the father of the new church and it’s mission to bring Christ to the ends of the earth.  Peter, who we see had  his challenges to face and who failed some – passed some. Just like us – fail some, pass some, became what God had planned him to be.

The Holy Spirit is not to make us all Peters or Joyce Meyers  but to help make us exactly who God planned us to be. Not anyone else , not doing what they do, not  being what someone else expects us to be, not what we expect ourselves to be . The Holy Spirit is to help make you, make me,  exactly who God planned us to be.  God can turn caterpillars into butterflies, coal into diamonds, sand into pearls all with right amount of time and right amount of pressure. In the process of becoming who God planned us to be,  we face life and its daily challenges. Sometimes big challenges, sometimes small ones. But make no mistake everybody in this room is facing challenge.  It’s part of the process – and my advice is the quicker we hand the challenge back to God – I truly forgive them; Lord I give you my fear; Take my burden and I will not come back for it – it allows the Spirit to move in us.

Vanessa

(*Earlier in the service we had a visiting Youth Group perform a skit from Ready, Steady, Act now, called “120 Waiting Christians”)


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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)


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Good News to Share

A couple of years ago for Easter we introduced the Wordless Gospel to the children, and had them make their own little books.

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To refresh your memories, this is the meaning behind each colour:

  • BLACK represents sin: “There is no difference, for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23)
    Sin is doing something wrong on purpose, or not doing something we know we should – that is, known sins and unknown sins – and we all sin – Mother Teresa, the Pope, me, you. Some days are better than others!
  • RED represents blood: Jesus’ blood was shed at Easter. What was it about?  How can Jesus dying be good news? Because he died for us and for all our sins so we could come to know God.
    “The blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from every sin.” (1 John 1:7)
  • WHITE represents our being washed clean:  “Wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.” (Psalm 51: 7)
    We become new again by His grace. We need to be cleansed to be able to be with God, and that’s a constant process – as we continue to sin, we need to continue to tell God we are sorry and ask for his forgiveness.
  • GOLD represents Heaven:  Gold – is a precious metal, but God is more precious still. God is the most precious thing we can have in our lives, and heaven is God’s house – with many rooms for all of us who believe in him and have asked him to save us through Jesus. Because heaven is where God is: it will be full of love, joy and that’s somewhere I want to be.
    “I am going to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me where I am.” (John 14: 2,3) 
  • GREEN represents growth and new life: “Grow in the grace and knowledge of our lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 3: 18)
    When we become a Christian we become new again, like a little seed that will grow into a plant. We will all be different as we grow, in the same way that a garden is full of different plants, flowers and trees. What do we need to do to grow? Pray; read the Bible to learn more; do things God would like us to do. Sometimes God needs to do a bit of pruning as we grow and develop as Christians: getting rid of our bad habits.

So the good news is that although we sin, though the death of Jesus, he makes us pure so we can be in God’s presence in heaven when that time comes – as long as we accept him.

Now the point of the Wordless Gospel is that there are no words! However, just to be different – and to make it a little easier for the younger ones to remember the message associated with each page – we added a Bible verse, which they stuck to the back of the appropriate page.

IMG_0221You will need:
Black, red, white, gold/yellow & green card; sticky labels printed with the Bible verses; curling or plain ribbon.

We cut our card into pieces 15cm x 10cm – this means it was just the right height to use a hole punch on.

It is best to talk to the children about the Wordless Gospel first, and then get them to put their own booklets together, attaching the Bible verses to the back of each page – some may need help attaching the right verse to the right colour page – and tying together with ribbon.


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Worth & Value

(Below is the text of the talk that went with the “You are Fearfully & Wonderfully Made” craft)

Can anyone tell me……..

Is an old car worth more than a new car?
What about if it was a rare old car and a mass produced new car? What if it was a old rusty heap and a new flash super sports car?

Here I am wearing a real gold necklace and this brooch is what they call costume jewellery – these aren’t diamonds and this is NOT gold.
Which is worth more? The necklace cost more but the brooch was my great grandmothers, so to me, the brooch is worth more.

Open wallet and take out two notes ($10 and $20) Which is worth more?
Screw up the $20 – what about now?
Throw it on the ground, and what if it was thrown in a puddle, a big dirty puddle so it’s now dirty and crumpled, maybe ripped – what is it worth now?
It is still worth $20 – it can still be used.

We have talked about the worth or value that material things have, but what about people?
Is someone worth more by what they do (someone who saves lives or someone unemployed)?
Is someone worth more if they are good (nun or a criminal)?

What about age – is someone worth more if they have experience and wisdom or if they are young and have all that to learn?

Who is worth more between me and Gail – now that’s silly — or is it? Isn’t that what we do to ourselves – compare.

God does not compare you with anyone else in the world. He cares for you. Actually God loves you. You are worth so much that maybe even you don’t believe it, understand it or even accept it.

We play small, belittling ourselves … I can’t do that  ….…

  • I’m not good enough (that was Jonah from the Bible)
  • I don’t know what to say (that was Moses from the Bible)
  • Too old (that was Abraham from the Bible)
  • Abandoned by his family (that was Joseph from the Bible).

The Bible is full of people that are not perfect and God has used them in spite of their imperfections – no he used them because of their imperfections.

So let me tell you, each of you: You are, YOU ARE of value, of worth to God. So much so He gave all He had, His only son, Jesus, to die for our sins, so that we can have a personal relationship with Him. Now that is love.

And soon as you understand that, believe that, accept that, God will change your life in the most amazing way that only God can.


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You are Fearfully & Wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14)

Last week we used a skit called “I’ve come to light that candle” (available from the Ready, Steady, Act Now part of Sheila Hamil’s website). Although the suggested theme of the skit is about carrying God’s light to the world, we were struck by the way the Devil put down each of the characters in turn – attacking their self worth and belief in their own value – and we decided to focus on the fact that we all have worth in the eyes of God.

For our craft we made up this mirror to emphasise that yes, that person there looking out at you is valuable and important to God.

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IMG_0159You need:

  • Mirror finish plastic plates – found these in the Just Incredible shop at NZ$5.90 for 6 (I’m sure there will be something similar available in other countries)
  • Card
  • A variety of stickers of your choice
  • Ribbon
  • A printed verse. We used “You are fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14) which tied in with the Father’s Love Letter that we did a few weeks ago.

IMG_0161Pre-Prepare:

  • Cut pieces of card to size so that they cover one side of the outer edge of the mirror plate (this is why I chose the square plates and not the round ones!) We provided a selection of colours for the children to choose from.
  • Print out your chosen verse and cut to size.
  • Cut ribbon to a suitable length


IMG_0168Assemble:

  • Glue your choice of card to the outer edges
  • Glue on the printed verse
  • Attach stickers to personalise.
  • Tape a piece of ribbon to the back so that the “mirror” can be hung up.

And there you have it – one personalised mirror ready to emphasise that YOU have worth!

The girls showing off their mirrors

The girls showing off their mirrors


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Christchurch, 22 February 2011, 12.51pm

1 Kings 19: 11-12:
After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. After …… came a gentle whisper.

There was an earthquake; but God was not there.
God was there in the still small voices;
In the hands of strangers who moved buildings brick by brick to free other strangers;
In the comforting hug given by a customer to a frightened shop assistant;
In the students shovelling silt and liquefaction;
In the neighbours, newly connected, sharing food, and water, warmth and comfort;
In the lifts given to unknown people;
In the baking given to workers clearing the streets;
In the passer-by who held the hand of a dying woman;
In the hundreds of kindnesses, small and large, freely given;

Don’t look for God in the earthquake – He is there when we reach out to each other.

(G.W.)