Another parable

The Power of Stories

to change people’s lives

I was a visitor in a small village church this Sunday and something said in the sermon struck me: about the terrorist attack in Manchester last week the vicar asked, ‘What was this young man’s story that lead him to this point?’ That was not something I had considered before, but how did he become radicalised? At what point had he decided that this was to be his path?

What difference does the gospel make to people’s stories? We never know the ‘what ifs’ but what if someone had shared the gospel with him? What if he had met the risen Lord Jesus? What if I hadn’t become a Christian – what might my life look like?

We make massive changes in people’s lives when we share God’s good news with them. Whether it is our friends and family, the children and youth that we teach, or a stranger who we took the opportunity to talk to. Jesus had among his twelve closest disciples Simon the Zealot who fought against the Roman government: his chosen messenger to the gentiles was Saul, a man whose religious beliefs led him to persecute others. We know Jesus changed their stories and the stories of countless others. Let’s pray for him to continue to do so.

I’ve added another parable: The Rich Fool. Someone who did not let God change his story and never even considered the possibility. I don’t want that to be anyone I know so hard as it is, Lord, would I be courageous enough to give everyone I know the chance to hear of you and to make their decision. Amen

Philippians 3

Busy, Busy, Busy!

Apologies for a super late post.

I have been holiday-ing and holiday clubbing and holiday club prepping (not in that order) and I’m afraid that you may well have been waiting longer for this blog post than the 1st cenury church were waiting for Paul’s letter. And if I think I’m busy I imagine it’s nothing compared to the apostle’s work load! It hasn’t taken prison to slow me down enough to write this up at last but a bee sting to the face and the fact that the right hand side of my lip is trying to occupy the space where the left hand side of my mouth normally is #troutpout.

I, like many of you, am back to school this week bringing the joys of teenagers, paperwork and (unless the swelling goes down soon) jokes about insect instigated cosmetic surgery. Check this out if you’re looking for something on new beginnings.

Philippians 2

Following Jesus

and shining like stars

Alpha Centauri is the closest star to our solar system and it’s 4.37 light years away. Now I’m famously bad with numbers and anything in light years is unimaginable but I know that’s a very very long way away. And that means all the other stars are even further away yet we can still see them; through the atmosphere, through light pollution, even ones that are much smaller than our own sun!

That’s super encouraging to me as I reflect on Philippians 2. Following Jesus does make a difference, like a star it shines out beautifully, over long distances and through difficult circumstances. And that is true of everyone who is being made more like Jesus whether, like me, they’re pottering along ordinarily or they’re standing alone against great persecution  or they’re a child whose just decided they want to be Jesus friend.
Let’s pray then for the christian kids you know, for their leaders and role models, that they would shine brightly as they strive to be like Jesus and draw others to his glorious light!

I’m sorry this is late…

I was attacked by pirates!

No honestly I was!

It sounds like the worst excuse ever, and admittedly I was a LOT bigger than the pirates in question, but it does take it out of you. I spent last week with Christians from a group of churches in Bicester (in the UK) at one of their venues helping to share the gospel with the local 4-11’s. It was a fantastic week, full of fellowship, craft, unexplainable bruises, wonderful people, miracles, challenges, prayers, biscuits, bad wigs, burgers, pirates, jokes and the spirit. They used John Hardwick’s adventure cruise (which I have to admit wasn’t my favourite – but is still very much worth a look if you’re thinking about holiday clubs).
Anyway, I’m safe on dry land again, Philippians Chapter 1 is here at last, with its strong focus on the Gospel; What is it? Why is it important? and What does it do?

New Series!

Paul’s Letter to the Philippians

(or Phillippians Phillipians Fillipians

Philipeans)

Please tell me I’m not the only one who always questions if I’ve spelt it right?

I was really excited to get to do this series; so much of what we do with kids is narrative based – and don’t get me wrong that’s great! – but as grown ups we spend much more of our time in the letters and that’s a big change to make if you’ve never looked at a letter before. Also there’s so much in them that’s worth looking at hence the new series looking at Philippians!
However, we’re kicking it off with a bit of Acts, so yes some narrative, but purely for context I assure you…
So here you are meet Paul the letter writer and through him meet Jesus the Saviour!

Paul

There’s no place like home

The Promised Land at last

and a promised rest as well.

The second day of our kids material for our church weekend away is here at last! If you missed last weeks you can find it here.
Unfortunately, I forgot to put the video we used up with the rest of the stuff last time – I’ve added it now and there’s another in this week’s so it seems a great opportunity to recommend yet another fantastic resource to you.

Check out the God’s Story videos from Crossroads Kids Club. They’re beautifully produced with a nice clear simple explanation that’s neither just facts or just application but the right amount of both. The animation styles differ but they all look great (they’ve also produced a few in Chinese and Spanish) and they cover a broad range of stories not only narrative. We used ‘Joshua Becomes Leader’ and ‘God’s Reminders’ for our weekend away but there are so many I’m sure we’ll come back to them later. They’ve also got a whole load of songs, verses and something called ‘the kitchen’ which I haven’t had a chance to check out yet but I’m looking forward to seeing more of what they’ve got!

My problem with Daniel…

He’s great

and so are his friends…

…and so we never get past chapter six!
Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego are fantastic examples of godly living, of standing up for what you believe in, of faithfulness, bravery, putting your relationship  with God first, speaking the truth and it doesn’t hurt that they are young and handsome either! I’m as guilty of it as anyone here (in fact I’ve ignored Rach, Shach and Benny) but I have dreams of writing children’s materials on  chapters 7 through 12 explaining the various beasts and introducing the Son of Man and the Ancient of Days! Maybe one day – not soon but one day…

Jesus is the King

Ruler over everything

Jesus is the One. Promised One. The Son of God.

Now try getting that tune out of your head (and if you don’t know it check out the song section of Jesus is the New and Better David for a link).

The Timeline activity this week makes use of a fun but slightly bizarre resource: The Brick Bible. The makers of this website have devoted a lot of time to creating and photographing stories from the Bible out of Lego. They are often pleasingly accurate although I have found that I have to choose pictures carefully because a few red bricks on the floor looks surprisingly brutal and because they are just Lego they don’t skimp on nudity and sex. If you are in the US you can buy child friendly books in the same style (I don’t live there so I can’t comment on what they’re like – if anyone knows please comment below).  They have also added speech where appropriate – it’s an amalgamation of different English-language translations and uses Yahweh frequently which I find a bit annoying. It’s not always sympathetic in its portrayal of events which sometimes works well at removing any soppiness but also removes reason and context. However with a wise selection of pictures it’s very handy – I definitely recommend you check it out.

Early in the morning my blog shall rise to thee…

The world is far from perfect

but a far, far better one awaits!

It’s too sunny for me to sleep past five this morning apparently. Yesterday, I made a cake for a friend that collapsed instantly on taking it out the oven. These are two very small problems but, unfortunately, all it takes to make me mopey and miserable. So what a joy that writing up Joshua this morning got me to refocus on a God who calls us to joyful obedience not self-pitying wallowing. On a land which overflows with good things and where the presence of God lights up the world! On a future free from sin! On a rescue that cost sooooooooooooooo much to ensure that this time no-one (not even me) could screw it up.
Onwards to a new day…