Tag Archives: Children’s talks

The Real Deal

A kids talk for Palm Sunday – The Real Deal!

Today is a special day in the Christian calendar…yes it’s Sunday, but does anyone know what special name we give to the Sunday before Easter? Yes, Palm Sunday – the day in Jesus’ life when he came into Jerusalem on a donkey and the people recognised him as the Son of David.

Do you remember what they did? Yes, cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. And they sang Hosanna to the Son of David! Well, as I was thinking about Palm Sunday I remembered something that happened recently that was also about recognising the real deal.

Do any of you know what has changed about our money? Yes, there is a new £1 coin. Have any of you seen it? Well, here it is…come and look.

Do you know why they changed it? It’s because there are some people who don’t want to work for their money, they just want to figure out how to make fake money.

Apparently if we had 30 £1 coins here, one of them would be fake. Can you believe it! People try and copy the real thing so they can buy things they want. So the people who make the real coins have decided to make them even harder to copy, by making the coins different to the old one but also giving it special characteristics, so that people can more easily recognise the real from the fake.

One thing they have done is make it combining two different properties – see here:

  • It is shaped by a rough side and a smooth side – it is made from a sliver bit and a gold bit
  • Here there is a number 1 and a pound sign in the same place, depending on what angle you look at it.
  • The small Lettering has One Pound on one side, and year of production in the other

So by combining two different elements in different ways they have made this coin very, very hard to copy. It struck me that it is the same with Jesus Christ the Son of God. In order to more easily recognise the real thing God made him to uniquely combine different properties…

  • He was man, and God in the same place
  • He was perfect in everything he did, said or thought
  • He was the most loving person ever, for both people and the truth
  • He perfectly combined grace and truth in one person
  • He did miracles that no other person could do
  • He taught as no other person ever did
  • He sacrificed himself for others despite being deserted by everyone
  • He chose to become poor, so that we might become rich

And when people saw him some of them said to themselves…this man is the real deal. And on that day when he rode on a donkey into Jerusalem, the people held up this man to the test of the Old Testament predictions and said, yes, he fits the description, he is the one we have been waiting for…he is the chosen one, the messiah.

The harder something is to copy, the more sure we can be that we have the real thing…what is true for one pound coins is also true for our Saviour. Think about this over Easter, when you are tucking in to your Easter eggs…Let’s pray.

Wilderness Wandering revisited

family board gameOur church is going through The Story we are at week 6 and I was tasked with covering the Wandering chapter for the kids and adults this morning…here is the kids talk. We played the short “Teens” video clip for week 6 first for the whole church.

“This week we are learning about the wilderness wanderings…when I was little my Dad used to have a board game that we played on a Sunday called Wilderness Wandering. It was a game that moved you through the different events that happened in the wilderness as the Israelites journey from Egypt to Canaan. In fact I have found a picture of the board game and also a picture of us all playing it…my Dad didn’t have his moustache back then! You ask them about it after the service (maybe it wasn’t exactly like this!).

What are your favourite board games? Monopoly, kids of Carcasson, junior Cluedo? One of the best loved is Snakes & Ladders – what happens when at bottom of ladder? What happens when land on a snake? Go back to where you started from that’s what. How long does it take to get back to where you were?

The Israelites had been prisoners for years and been miraculously delivered from Egypt. Now they are on the edge of the promised land, but instead of going up a ladder they go down a snake. They take another 40 years to get back to where they were. Then they finally make it through. The ones who went in were just kids when they stood there the first time.

One day God will bring you to a decision point just like the Israelites on the edge of the promised land – he wants to know what is in our hearts, do we trust and love him, but only when times are easy? When we are in the desert we find out whether we are willing to follow him. Whether kids or adults what we decide determines whether we go on with God, or go backwards. One thing you never get in snakes and ladders is a snake and a ladder on the same square – but that was the challenge for the 12 spies. Only Joshua and Caleb trusted God, 10 spies went down the snake. You can trust God no matter what.”

Lessons in Spiritual Discipline from the Commonwealth Games

I have been doing the kids work at church over August and tied it in with the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow to use physical discipline to teach the kids about spiritual discipline. I wrote this to explain the journey we have been on for the rest of the church family and my daughter read it out:

“I would like to tell you about what we Mail Attachment have been doing in Sunday School, or as we call it BCB – Blairgowrie Church Bunch. Over the last few weeks we have been looking at the Commonwealth games and what it takes to succeed as an athlete. We started by thinking about Eric Liddell, the Christian sprinter who a gold medal at the 1924 Paris Olympics. We watched a clip of Chariots of Fire where he speaks about the running the race of life with God.

We discussed what you need to do to be a good athlete – eat right, drink well, exercise, sleep and warm up. We then thought about what we need to do to be spiritually strong – listen to God, speak to him, go to church, help other people. We compared physical disciple to spiritual disciple and worked on The Tree of Discipline.

We thought that praying was like eating – because it is vital to keep us strong and healthy. We wrote prayers on wrapping paper and wrapped them round a chocolate bar. We thought about the verse, “His delight is in the law of The Lord, and on his law he mediates day and night, he shall be like a tree planted by springs of water.”

Then we all took a turn to be blindfolded and taste different drinks – we had to say which we liked the best and which we recognised. We thought that drinking was like bible reading because it refreshes us and satisfies our thirst for God. The verse we thought about was “taste and see that The Lord is good.”

We also thought about the importance of silence and solitude and compared it to the importance of sleep for athletes. We played sleeping lions and we so good we all came first. We thought about the verse in Luke 5.14 when Jesus “went out often to desolate place to pray”.

We thought about how adrenaline helps athletes get extra help to go faster for longer or run away. We compared it to the. Holy Spirit that makes the bible and prayer come alive. We thought about what happens when you add the Holy Spirit to a Christian and compared it to adding Mentos to Diet Coke. We sneaked outside to do our experiment and made the coke explode like a volcano! Our verse was Jesus’ conversation in John 4 when he says: “rivers of living water will flow from within them”.

Thank you for your attention and please ask us about what we have been learning. Thank you for praying for us, and for making us feel part of your family.”

Are you a daffodil or a pea?

I asked the kids at Carnoustie Community Church yesterday how many of them live in the countryside? What are the crops you see growing in the field? Some said potatoes, others carrots and oil seed rape and many others. What was there about a month or so ago? Daffodils! Fields and fields of them are grown by us.

PeasThen I asked them to identify the plants I pulled out of my bag? What were these? Smell them. No, not weeds, they are actually pea plants. Are any of the adults growing peas in their garden? What do you need for the peas in the garden? Support branches or poles to keep them upright. But do you know how the farmers keep all the peas in the field up? One kid answered, “they have something to hold onto” – yes, that’s right – each other! The farmer sows them so close together that as they grow they support each other. These tendrils that reach out on every direction and wind around their fellow plants until they are totally interwoven with each other and help each other grow higher.

The peas remind me of Christians and the church. Some Christians want to be daffodils – always saying “look at me how pretty I am and how important I am”. Daffodils need no support from their fellow plants; God has not made us to be daffodils, but peas. God wants us to grow close to each other so we can mutually support each other – interwoven in each other’s lives. This is what the church is meant to look like – each plant helping those around it to grow.  It is hard to take one of those plants away without tearing the tendrils. As you grow as Christians it is important that you find other Christians to support you and for you to support. That is why church is so important, so that you are supported as you grow.

Jesus spoke about this in his prayer in John 17. 20-26. Jesus wants his people to be one as he and the Father are one. Jesus is saying that he is one of those pea plants, he wants to be so united with each of us that our lives are interwoven with him, just as they are with each other. Are we a church of peas, where love and mutual support fosters growth? Or are we a church of daffodils, each seeking our own interests? May God grant that we would see the beauty of peas and open our hearts to each other to love and encourage each other.

Be Quiet!

hidingA poem for our children for the pressure they face to conform and yield to social norms:

Be quiet, be quiet, don’t say a thing,
We are the wise, you are nothing
We are all fine, it’s you who are warped

Whatever you think, don’t say it out loud,
Be ashamed of yourself, so arrogant and proud
We are all fine, it’s you who are warped

Make your children be silent, teach them to be afraid
You’ve polluted their minds, their innocence betrayed
We are all fine it’s you who are warped

Speak up, be bold and you will see our hate
We will misrepresent you before you realise too late
We are all fine it’s you who are warped

We will twist what you said, grab you by the throat
Everyone will stare at the shameful scapegoat
We are all fine it’s you who are warped

You will be all alone, condemned by all
What good are your beliefs when you’re against the wall?
We are all fine it’s you who are warped

We are all dead now, alone in the dark
You are not here now, we miss you’re life spark
You are fine now, it’s we who are warped

“When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen: “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!” “I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.” Luke 19.37-40

What can a man who has nothing teach the whole world?

money_thumbOn Sunday I had the chance to speak to the children at our church. I started by asking them which of them liked Mental Maths? (not many hands went up, but a couple did…which threw me!). I then asked them which of them got pocket money? A few more hands went up and I asked them how much they got. We realised that if we added up all their pocket money we might get to £10. Now, how much money would we have if we all saved our pocket money for a whole year? You guessed it…£520. Now I asked how many children there were in their schools. A couple said around 50 and two said they went to a school of nearly 500. I asked them to imagine all of those children in that school, all saving up their pocket money for a whole year. What a lot of money that would be! Then imagine losing that amount of money…and how sad you would be?

I then explained that this was the amount of money  (£10 x 52 weeks x 500 people = £26,000 = $40,000) that someone lost last week in America. But also imagine how you would feel if you found that much money? What would you do with it? Well, amazingly the man who found it didn’t keep one penny (or cent), but gave all of it to the police, who returned it to its owner. This was despite the fact that he had been homeless for the last 8 years. Wow! Imagine that! All that money instantly arrives, more money than you have ever seen in your life, right there in your hands, and you give it all back.

Glen James, Ed DavisThe man in question was Glen James. His honesty earned him an Award from the Boston Police Department for this actions. In response Glen James said:

Even if I were desperate for money, I would not have kept even a penny of the money I found”, he said. I am extremely religious and God has always very well looked after me. I would like to take this opportunity to sincerely thank everyone – every pedestrian stranger – who has given me spare change. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.”

I told the kids that Jesus also spoke about money and how it should never be your master. Jesus said: “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also…No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.” I then explained how people had been so moved by Glen’s honesty that they had donated more than twice the amount that he had found to him. So God rewarded his honesty and gave him more than he gave up.

As I reflected on this Sunday School talk I thought that sometimes it takes a person who has absolutely nothing to turn his back on a fortune for the rest of us to realise how we love money too much. If he had been well off we could have consoled ourselves by saying that “well he probably didn’t take it because he already has a nice house and a good job”. But when a man who doesn’t know where his next meal is coming from turns his back on a fortune, only because it is not rightly his, then we see something of the depth of his true character…and it provokes us to question our own motives. Only when everything is striped away and we are tempted at our point of need, do we truly see the power of the Spirit of God.

So I ask, “What can a man who has nothing teach the whole world?”

  1. Our personal integrity is worth more than any amount of money. How easily we succumb to temptation, how little it takes to get us to compromise. If we prized our integrity and personal holiness as highly as Glen, we would turn away from many of the things we so easily allow to entangle us.
  2. The more desperate the need, the deeper the self-denial. Many of us think we are denying ourselves things, but we exhibit restraint from a position of relative comfort. The person in dire straits when faced with an easy (but dishonest) way out is the person who is really tested. The opposite is also true – the greater the abundance, the deeper the sacrifice to give it all up.
  3. Sometimes we get the very thing we have renounced. If we are desperate for money God may well keep us from it, if we deeply long for a position of status, God may well keep us in humble circumstances. If we have truly renounced our desire for power, prestige and money, then he might just be prepared to give them to us – when he is happy they will not corrupt us. Or he may not, either way we will be content.
  4. Some denials will only be returned in the life to come. The promise of Matthew 19.29 to receive abundantly more than we ever gave up for Christ is ultimately to be fulfilled in the life to come. However, that we might not give up hope of the depth of God’s kindness, he sometimes gives us tasters of his generosity in this life . Glen’s new found abundance is an example of the overflow of the coming kingdom into this present age.

There are similarities here with the other man who lived his life with nothing. He gave up divine glory and majesty, willfully making himself nothing – a much greater sacrifice than any of us could ever make. This man was tempted at the point of starvation to make bread from stones and resisted. He was tempted to trade future glory and present suffering for present dishonest glory – and resisted. This man purposefully set his face to serve others not rule them, to deliberately renounce his right to be God. In return the Father gave him a name above every other – the very thing he was willing to sacrifice. This man never saw the fulfilment during his life of the fruit of the sacrifices he made, but will one day see every knee bow before him, and the children of God perfect in holiness. He only calls us to do what he himself was willing to do – lose his life, so he may find it. So the next time you walk past a homless guy on the street, just think…it might be the next Glen James and he might have something to teach you.

What is the gospel?

Gospel.bmp

The following is a talk for a children’s prize giving service, where there were lots of kids and I only had 20 minutes. It’s a quiz / message montage experiment!

Sometimes it is easy to over-complicate the gospel and lose sight of its simplicity. How would you summarise it in one sentence?

Simply put it is this: “God sought you beyond all the mess that you might desire him above all the gifts.” Note that God is the active one – he initiates the action; secondly God seeks – we are not the seekers, God is the original missionary, seeking us. Thirdly “beyond the mess” – God is not looking for people who have all the answers. He specialises in the mixed up, confused, failed. Whether we admit it to other people or not, we can hide it from everyone, but not God.

For what purpose does he seek us? To save us from hell? Give us a ticket to heaven? To be happy? To make our lives more fulfilling? No, ultimately He saves us to give us a new passion in life. In Mark 8.34 & 35 we read “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it.” God wants to give us a greater passion for him than our own selfish desires. A passion for him that exceeds our passion to seek what we want in life.

This is to be our passion, to desire him alone. Greater even than our natural (and right) desires for his good gifts. Many of us never get beyond the gifts – family, security, love, possessions and material blessings. He saves us to desire him above all these things.

That was what the cross was all about, God rescuing a people not just from slavery, but to himself. Want to think about what this means by listening to some of our poets – through their music…but first some disclaimers (slide 3; all slides are available here).

Then I started the quiz, rules are on slide 4. I split the room into the under 18’s and the over 18’s. Each took it in turns to guess the singer, the song (when I read out the lyrics) and the year.

1. Robbie Williams – Candy (2012). Lyrics:  “And if it don’t feel good what are you doing it for?” Comment: Are our feelings the best guide for judging what is right? Feels good = do it; feel bad = don’t bother. This is the exact opposite of Jesus’ call to self-denial and delayed gratification in Mark 8.34. Also read out lyrics from Feel (2002) “I just wanna feel real love, feel the home that I live in. Cos I got too much life running through these veins going to waste.” Comment: We all have a longing for meaning, purpose, acceptance, love from those around us.

2. Lady Gaga – Born This Way (2011). Lyrics: “It doesn’t matter if you love him, or capital H-I-M, just put your paws up, ’cause you were born this way”. Comment: Are we really perfect as we are? Is the message “you don’t need to change God loves you just as you are”? Jesus said, unless you are born again you cannot enter the kingdom of God. Must be born twice. Someone once said that “God loves you too much to leave you where you are”.

3. Adele – Don’t You Remember (2011). Lyrics: “When was the last time you thought of me, or have you completely erased me from your memory?..But I know I have a fickle heart and a bitterness and a wandering eye and a heaviness in my head.” Comment: We all make mistakes. We all want unconditional love and acceptance. But is that the kind of love we give to others? We build our lives around “the perfect one”, and all of a sudden they are gone. Nothing is certain, nothing lasts forever, yet we yearn for this kind of love.

4. The Script – If You Could See Me Now (2013). Lyrics: “I still look for your face in the crowd, oh if you could see me now. Would you stand in disgrace or take a bow? Oh if you could see me now.” Comment: We all want that acceptance of our family. Deep down we need security. There is nothing wrong with this, if we didn’t get it when we were young, we can spend the rest of our lives doubting others’ love. Can make us struggle to accept the unconditional love of God, which comes as a free gift that we cannot earn.

5. Upsy Daisy – In The Night Garden (2007)…one for the little ones!! No deeper meaning than wanted to give one for the pre-schoolers!

6. Michael Jackson – You Are Not Alone (1995). Lyrics: “You are not alone, for I am here with you. Though we’re far apart, you’re always in my heart. You are not alone.” Comment: We all want to be loved and for that love to always be there. It is a beautiful thing to find it in another person. But the call of God is to seek me above all others. To desire me above everyone else and everything else. Even your kids and wife or husband.

7. Joan Osbourne – One Of Us (1995). Lyrics: “If God had a name, what would it be and would you cal it to his face…What if God was one of us, just a slob like one of us, just a stranger on the bus tryin’ to make his way home.” Comment: The point is that God was one of us! He had a name, it was Jesus. We can go through life asking the wrong questions. Not realising that the answers are already there. We sit on the fence with our favourite objections and never give God the effort or rigour that we put into choosing which mobile phone to buy.

8. Candi Staton – You’ve Got The Love (1986). Lyrics: “Sometimes I feel like throwing my hands up in the air, I know I can count on you. Sometimes I feel like saying “Lord I just don’t care.” But you’ve got the love I need to see me through.” Comment: There is only one person who can help us when life is so tough and rough and messy. And that is the Lord Jesus, who says “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

9. Matt Redman – Blessed Be Your Name (2002). Lyrics: “Blessed by your name, on the road marked with suffering, though there’s pain in the offering. Blessed be your name.” Comment: Desire is the greatest achievement in our walk with God. Something I am learning more and more in my life: seeking God, praising God, blessing God, should be, needs to be, the one consuming goal of my life. Above every other love, aim, goal or achievement.

10. Charles Wesley – Jesus The Name High Over All (1749). Lyrics: “Happy if with my latest breath, I may but gasp his name. Preach him to all and cry in death: Behold, behold the lamb.” Comment: The greatest desire of my life is God himself, given us through his Son – this is The Greatest Love. His deep, never giving up, never breaking, always pursuing, always patient love. And he calls us to follow him. I also read out And Can It Be? (1738) “He left His Father’s throne above, so free, so infinite His grace. Emptied Himself of all but love, and bled for Adam’s helpless race. Tis mercy all, immense and free, for O my God, it found out me.” He offers us the unconditional love and acceptance we crave – through His Son’s bloody death on the cross and his resurrection.

So these are the two ways to live (slide 15). The broad and the narrow, self-centred or God-centred. What I can get vs What I have been given. We are all on one of these paths. If you are not a Christian, not seeking God. He is right here. He offers us acceptance and love that meets our greatest need. He offers us the opportunity to “feel real love for the home that we live in….” Many Christians still wander on the left hand side, we are looking for love and acceptance in the wrong place. The deeper you go in your relationship with God, the less you will need these other pleasures and comforts.

So this is the gospel (slide 16). Life is messy, our own poets have shown us that. God is on the hunt…the mess of our lives won’t stop him. He is ready to pour his love into your heart. He is calling you to leave all the faded hopes behind. “You are not alone…God was one of us.” In Mark 8 Jesus says take up your cross, deny yourself and follow me. Leave the self-centred pathway you were born on, and begin the most glorious adventure there has ever been.

The Jigsaw of Life

Yesterday we were at Carnoustie Community Church and I did a children’s talk based on the jigsaw we had just finished building at home.  The slides are available here.

I asked the kids “Who likes to do jigsaws? Who knows what this jigsaw is a picture of? How many pieces are there, do you think?” 1000 pieces! We started it in January and thought it would be impossible to finish – all the pieces are the same shape, very few different colours or sharp lines.

“Who knows how to do jigsaws? Where do you start?” – with the corners and edges – have to find the straight lines to make the frame. “Where do we go then?” – the bits that are clear, all the tiger’s face, or all this green bits of leaf, then the ears… “What do you need to help you? Do you just make up the picture as you go?” Of course not, you need the final picture of what it should look like – so you can see what type of colour goes where. One piece at a time, until you have finished it – just finished on Friday, only taken two months! A real team effort from all the family.

It reminded me that life is like a big jigsaw puzzle, we have been designed to enjoy life a certain way and life has been designed to work a certain way – the Maker has made us to fit in a certain part of the big jigsaw. Some of us maybe don’t know where we fit or we don’t like how God has designed us to fit in the big jigsaw – we take our piece and force it to fit somewhere it shouldn’t. “Can you make a jigsaw work like that?” I asked the children, “No” they responded.

In order to help us understand where we fit, God has even given us the final picture to look at – through the life of Jesus and the teachings of the bible, we have the perfect final picture. Only when we look at the picture and follow its instructions can we live as God intended and enjoy real life.

James described it in a similar way in chapter 1 verses 22-25 – as a mirror. It’s no good looking in a mirror and seeing a big piece of tomato ketchup on your cheek and then turning away and forgetting all about it. The mirror shows up the imperfections and prompts us to change, likewise the jigsaw shows us the final picture to help us find life as it was meant to be.

One way this works is in our relationships – God has said that the way the jigsaw fits together is one woman and one man for life. And he also says that we should only marry those who love Jesus like we do. Sometimes this is hard and makes our feelings in conflict with what God says. But it’s always worth it to follow the jigsaw’s design – not in order to be accepted by God, but in order to enjoy his presence and blessing on our life. 

Some of us older ones need to hear that with God failure is not final – even when we put our piece in the wrong place, he is able to forgive, heal and restore. Each day he gives us breath, is a new day to decide to make our piece a part of his final picture. May we know the joy of living in union with God for our lives.

“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and after looking at himself goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it – he will be blessed in what he does.” (NIV) James 1.22-25

Gospel lessons from Kung Fu Panda

Over Christmas our family really enjoyed watching Kung Fu Panda – its a heart-warming story about a Panda called Po who becomes a martial arts warrior. His master Shifu teaches him how to use his abilities through Taoism and the ying and yang of opposing forces. His enemies laugh at him because he is big, soft and cuddly, but he uses his size to defeat them, by sitting on them or bouncing them off his rather large stomach. I used the film as a children’s talk last Sunday by playing guess the film character (slides available here).

There are some strong messages throughout the film – I’ve listed three of them here:

1. There are no accidents, nothing happens by chance, everything happens for a reason.
2. There is no secret ingredient – Po wanted to become the Dragon Warrior and thought the scroll would give him the answers, but he had to learn there is no quick way to becoming special or important
3. The search for inner peace – Po had a sad event in his early life and spends most of the second film seeking inner peace.
 
Each of these messages can be viewed from the bible’s perspective and tells us important things about the Christian faith:
1. There are no accidents – that’s right, each of us is created in God’s image, all our days are planned before we ever enter the world and God values and loves each one of us
  • The days of my life were all prepared before I’d even lived one day.” Psalm 139.16 (The Message)
2. There is no secret ingredient – lots of people think there is a secret to having a happy life, whether that be a special person, lots of money or something else. But God tells us that the reason we are special is not to be found in us. The truth is that we were God’s enemies and our ultimate value lies not in ourselves, but in what God has done for us – sending Jesus to die for us so we can know him.
  • But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5.6 (ESV)
3. The search for inner peace – peace comes, not from within ourselves, but from a relationship with God, that begins when we put our faith and trust in Jesus – we become “justified” – just as if we had never sinned in God’s sight.
  • Since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Romans 5.1 (NIV)

We maybe think that films like Kung Fu Panda have nothing to say about Christianity, but these films have strong messages, along with the books we read, TV programs we watch and music we listen to. We need to listen out for their messages and ask whether they are really true.

We should use these films as an opportunity to ask ourselves and our parents – what does the bible say about these things? We need to question the messages contained and how they present the truth. I’ve learnt that while there is a real need to protect our children from inappropriate influences, on the whole, it’s not what you watch but how you watch, its not what you read, but how you read that determines the influence. So next time you watch Kung Fu Panda, may it remind you that each of us is loved, special and can find inner peace only through the love of God in Jesus Christ.

The helpful ravens

In last Sunday’s children’s talk I continued the “guess the animal” theme with the following slides. After they had guessed which animal it was I asked the kids: “Who knows where this is? Whose been to London? We were there last September to see my brother. They say if they leave the tower it will fall down! Not sure about that, but they have been there for many years. Very famous place visited by tourists.

Jesus speaks about ravens in Luke 12.24. The ravens don’t have jobs – they don’t get up early like Mummy & Daddy to go to work and earn money. They don’t have a piggy bank or savings in the bank to pay for food. And yet God feeds them everyday – if that is what he does for them what will he do for his children, so don’t worry.

Also read in the book of Kings that the ravens fed Elijah! God could have fed Elijah himself, like the manna he sent to the Israelites – but he chose to use the ravens as his messengers, why?. So we can learn that God feeds the ravens and the ravens then feed Elijah – see the hand of God guiding his animals to provide for his child. A lesson for all of life.

Reminds us of God’s care for his children – says in the book of James that “every good and perfect gift is from above” – from God. Even our food, which we think comes from the supermarket in a plastic bag and then goes in the fridge came from God:

  • He gave your mummy and daddy the ability to earn money
  • He gave you parents that care about you and want the best for you
  • He gave us a good climate with lots of rain (!) & blessed the harvest to produce food
  • He gave us peace in our land so that companies can sell food in safety
  • We can buy it without fear of robbery and that our money will be accepted by the company we pay

All this is from God and its why we thank him before we eat the food. So the next time you say Grace, remember the ravens and the unseen hand of God behind everything we enjoy. And remember that even gifts from heaven are sometimes wrapped in ordinary boxes – but they are very precious from God our father.