Monthly Archives: March 2011

Goats for Grandmas (video)

George Voss shares his mission, “Goats for Grandmas” from the Nursing home!

source Vimeo


Story of Elijah on Mount Carmel (story, video & audio)

After Israel splits into two separate countries (North=Israel, South=Judah), a series of kings rule each of them.

In the north, things aren’t going so hot. Remember: God’s people (the Israelites) are supposed to show the world what God is like. The northern country of Israel, especially the leaders, were wicked and evil people. Thus, the people of God has poor examples of what looking like God actually looked like!

Elijah was a prophet that stood out from the crowd and spoke against the evil the northern kingdom had plunged themselves into. This did not win him popularity contests… quite the opposite. Here is his story of standing out and speaking for the LORD God.

Video link (
Audio file (13.57mb, mp3)
Story lesson (0.00kb, pdf)

Outsourcing Our Children’s Spiritual Development?

Yesterday in church, Matt Jones shared about his role as a parent in the lives of his children. Specifically, Matt was alluding to his job (along with his wife, Cara) as the chief source of spiritual development for his children. While he appreciates the role of the church (particularly its programs), he does not “outsource” his primary role to the church. In other words, he doesn’t leave how his kids are going to turn out spiritually up to the church Sunday School program and mid-week gathering time. Matt said these church programs are great collaborative efforts to subsidize (not replace) what he and Cara are doing as parents with their kids.

Kudos to Matt and Cara Jones for starting this conversation in our church community. I really appreciate it.

I came across a blog post the other day that went right along with what Matt talked about:

I have outsourced my child’s swimming development.

You see, I’m just not an expert on the subject. I haven’t studied swim theory and I am completely unfamiliar with what it takes to learn how to become a swimmer even to the most basic of levels… which I would assume is ‘not drowning’.

So – I am comfortable with giving away control of my child’s swimming ability to a professional. In fact it seems to be working; my firstborn no longer screams when he observes large bodies of water and is slowly heading towards the aforementioned ‘not drowning’ level of swimming ability.

As parents and rightly so, we want to open up our children’s worlds as wide as possible and allow them to experience life to the full. My children will study science at school but may not become scientists; maths, but may not become mathematicians. So I am comfortable allowing many of these skills to be developed by teachers far more capable than me (especially maths ☺).

At this point in his short life, it is highly unlikely that child No.1 will become a professional swimming athlete. His parents simply don’t have it in them to generate the kind of passion for swimming that he would need to succeed in that arena. But on the off-chance that he develops a passion for and wants to pursue a career in professional sports then I’m confident my attitude will completely change and I’ll become far more involved in the training and discipline that it will take to pursue that dream.

Far above any academic or physical achievement that my children can attain is my desire for them to have an Olympic-sized faith. I desire to have kids who can stand up to the culture of this present age and live in such a way that they demand the attention of the world. I want my children to have the kind of faith that moves mountains and stands strong against any trial or tribulation that they will face; to grow up in a way that identifies them as a living, breathing ambassador of Christ on earth.

As parents, we tend to take quite a structured view of the education of our children. Emphasis is placed on testing and exams because we are led to believe that these processes indicate or lead to success. Here in Australia this culminates with the HSC (Higher School Certificate) in the last year of High School; the mental and psychological equivalent of David facing Goliath for many kids.

So where is the structure for my son’s spiritual development? Where is the passion to see my boy become an expert in his field, a champion in his arena?

This will take more than a ‘one hour a week’ soccer practice. I need to commit fully to this process because although not every child will become an athletic champion, every child can become a spiritual champion.

We may never get up at 5:30am to take our children to swimming practice in the local pool, but what is the equivalent for your child’s spiritual journey? Let that question drive you to your knees in prayer to seek God and ask His help to engage the hearts and minds of your children as you train them in the way that they should go.

Every child is different and every child’s spiritual journey requires us to listen to the Holy Spirit closely as we strive to raise children who love God and love people.

At Hillsong church most of our families do not attend every week, in fact on average they attend once a month. Can you think of any other area in life where 25% was good enough for success? They are missing out on 75% of the training and teaching that we as a church work hard to give the children we have been entrusted with.

Don’t think for one minute I am being religious about this – I am not suggesting attendance to keep up appearances. The reality is that your child will be at Church a maximum of 70 hours this year (if you attend each week), but they will attend school for maybe 1,500 hours and STILL apparently need homework to complete their learning.

Attending church every week will not guarantee your child grows up to be a spiritual champion, but it’s a pretty good start. Deuteronomy 6 places the primary spiritual responsibility for your children on you as a parent. But we as the church occupy a unique position in the life of your family – one that cannot be replaced with clubs and teams. This is the house of God, a gathering of the saints together and an absolute essential in the lifestyle of a Christian family.

So be careful not to prioritise the preparation of your children for a future that may never eventuate. Instead, give your life to establish a legacy for your children and your children’s children.

You cannot outsource your child’s spiritual development.

David Wakerley

The Thermostat

There are two important and influential devices in every home. Whoever controls these devices wields great power and influence. They have the potential to bring great joy and excitement as well as tension and discord.

The second important and influential device in the home is the thermostat. In contrast to the remote control, no one can have the thermostat—it’s attached to the wall. Results of the thermostat being changed aren’t realized until later. Are you cold? A quick fix is to grab a blanket or put some warm socks or cozy slippers on. It’s interesting, though, just grabbing a blanket or slippers for yourself will not help anyone else in the house (who might be cold) get warm. The thermostat has the ability to warm everyone up in the home.

I live in the Upper Midwest so it’s more appropriate for me to talk about getting heat into our homes. For those of you who live in the south, it would be more appropriate to speak in terms of cooling and taking clothes off (although you can only take so many clothes off)!

By implication, whoever sets the thermostat is setting the temperature for the environment of the home. In other words, whatever the temperature is set at, the environment adjusts to the temperature of the room.

I am speaking in obvious terms, but think in relation to setting the tone of your family. What does the environment of your home feel like? Is it positive (warm) or negative (cold)? Is there tension or freedom? Do your children walk on eggshells around you (parents) or do they have the freedom to make a mistake and be gently guided to understand how NOT to make those mistakes again? Does your home exude love and laughter? Or does your home environment radiate judgment and apathy? Do your kids smile because they have something to smile about? Or do your kids mope around the house because their families don’t do many activities or play with them?

What does the spiritual environment of your home look like? Do you read your Bible and pray? Or does the word of God collect dust on a shelf and petitions to God remain unasked?

Who sets the tone of your home? Who adjusts the temperature as needed? Or does no one care about the thermostat, leaving each individual to work out their own environmental conditions?

While most of us as human beings care about the remote control (usually because it’s of more immediate concern), we should equally care about the type of environment or culture we are raising our children in. We don’t realize environmental issues until it’s too late: why does my teenager want nothing to do with me? Well, it may be the fact that they are a teenager and don’t want anything to do with adults, but perhaps it has more to do with the fact that you as a Mom or Dad (Uncle, Aunt, or even Grandparent) did not take time to develop and nurture a relationship with them when they were younger. At least make the fact that they don’t want anything to do with you not about your lack of relationship, rather your continual pursuit of an active relationship with them.

Don’t let environment issues surprise you. Adjust and care for your environment right now.

Setting the tone of your home is one way to use the thermostat principle well. Perhaps thinking in terms of a community of homes (a city, town, or suburb) or a community of faith (churches and small groups) is an appropriate application of caring for the thermostat. What does the culture of community feel like? Are people supportive and encouraging or are people individualistic and rude? Are you welcoming? Or do you slam the door in people’s faces? Do we welcome tourists in Hayward, WI because they need a break from their hectic, city-based lives? Or do we want to “shoot them because it’s tourist season”? Are we open to new people visiting our faith community? Or are we a closed group?

What is the temperature of your community? And, more importantly, who are you (as community members) letting control the temperature of your community?

Thanks to Steve DeNeff for the inspiration for these two metaphors!

The Remote Control

There are two important and influential devices in every home. Whoever controls these devices wields great power and influence. They have the potential to bring great joy and excitement as well as tension and discord.

The first device is the remote control. Oh yeah. Whoever has the remote control determines what everyone else in the house watches. Have children? Little ones? I do. They don’t like the news or what Mom and Dad want to watch. At the same time, Mom and Dad don’t want to watch Dora, Little Mermaid, or Enchanted all the time! Take your attention off of the remote and you might lose it. Go to the bathroom and when you return someone might have grabbed the power and have already succeeded in exerting their influential role as king or queen of the remote control. This device is aptly named “remote control” because whoever has it has “control” of everyone else!

If a family serves each other well and wants what each other wants, meaning they exercise the kingdom of God in their home, the allure of the power of a remote control is less about individual control, but more about mutual control. What would it look like in our home if we were not selfish rather we were selfless? What if our families (and the individuals in it) are more concerned about the interests of others rather than themselves? Homes where there is great conflict or underlying resentment is a home where power fought over and the interests of others are stepped on. If you give up control you are weak. If you care about someone other than yourself, well, yourself might never get taken care of.

It’s a wonder that the enacted vision of God’s kind of world (aka the Kingdom of Heaven/God) actually brings about a REAL humanity instead of a FALSE humanity. REAL humanity realizes love, mutual submission, selflessness, and a concern for the interests of others. FALSE humanity realizes selfishness, a hunger for power and control, and concern only for your own personal interest.

The remote control in and of itself is a neutral party. It does not choose sides. The metaphor serves to illustrate how we as human beings use things well or poorly. And often, how we use things reveals whether we care more about God’s kingdom or our own kingdom.

Tomorrow, I’ll write about the second most important device in the home…

Thanks to Steve DeNeff for the inspiration for these two metaphors!

Big Night in a Small Town (video)

I don’t know how I missed this, but the Main Street students sang a couple of songs for the Worship service the Sunday before Christmas. I completely forgot to grab the video camera, but managed to catch one of songs on my horrible cell phone’s video camera. The children, however, were far from horrible. They sang magnificently! Song: Big Night in a Small Town (Click here for the video on YouTube)

Click here to access the video directly, or watch it embedded below:

Nard Pugyao (video)

Last Wednesday night (March 16, 2011), a missionary from Wycliffe Bible Translators by the name of Nard Pugyao spoke to the middle and high school students. It was a great message!

CLICK here to access the video or watch it embedded above.

Kingdom Falls Apart and Divides (story, video & audio)

Kingdom Falls Apart and Divides - y2_w29

King Solomon marries 600 women who in turn lead him away from the LORD. Solomon follows after the gods of his wives. Judgment from the LORD includes the tearing / dividing of the kingdom.

Jeroboam harasses Solomon, and ends up fleeing for his life.

Solomon’s successor to the throne of Israel is his son, Rehoboam. This young man chooses to defy the wishes of the people of Israel (to go easy on them as his father, Solomon, worked them hard).

Rehoboam tells them his finder is thicker than his father’s waist and they can expect to be worked harder!

Led by Jeroboam, the people of the North (Israel) divided from the people of the South (Judah and Benjamin), led by Rehoboam.

Thus the kingdom was divided in two.

VIDEO link (
AUDIO file (12.2mb, mp3)

Residual Impact of Small Group Ministry on Children

My friend, Jesse Smith, wrote a great blog post about the impact their weekly small group has on his kids.

I really resonated with it because our small group has been really impactful for our family as well. My kids really look forward to spending time with their friends at small group. Our small group’s kids are a little younger than Jesse’s because we still pay babysitters to watch them while we are talking. The sitters we have are amazing!

A couple of weeks ago, when the parents went downstairs to get their kids, we witnessed a storytelling time. The babysitters had been telling them the story of Mary and Joseph and the birth of Jesus and they were live acting everything. The kids were all playing different roles and parts from an angel, to a donkey, to the characters of Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus. It was incredible!

Children’s Report on Christianity and Characteristics of Jesus

A couple of weeks ago I had sent a couple of our Main Street Teachers to a leadership class during our Sunday morning children’s ministry hour. As a result, I ended up “teaching” grades 3-6 in small group time that morning after our large group time. I get to rarely do these kinds of things so I asked them to do some assessment stuff for me.

I had them answer a couple of questions: 1) What do they think it means to be a “Christian”? and 2) What are the qualities of Jesus that God wants us to be like? (Basically, what are the characteristics of Jesus that made him, and continue to make him, unique?)

Here are the answers they provided:

Question #1 – What does the word “Christian” mean?

  • Follower of God
  • someone who praises the Lord
  • to be a follower of God
  • to believe in God
  • believing in God and the Bible
  • you follow God and believe in God
  • someone who believes in or follows God
  • you are loyal to the Lord or a follower
  • believe in God
  • follower of God and who believes that Jesus died on the cross
  • to love God
  • to be a part of God’s family
  • a person who believes that Jesus Christ died on a cross for them of his own free will because he loves them
  • believer in Jesus
  • Bible follower
  • believer in Jesus and stuff
  • a person who trusts God and listens to God and believes he died for us

Question #2 – Characteristics of Jesus

  • nice
  • powerful
  • graceful
  • best
  • awesome
  • loving
  • humble
  • caring
  • kind
  • helps others
  • doesn’t sin
  • died for us
  • happy
  • dangerous
  • un-mean
  • honest
  • non-hurtful
  • strong
  • brave
  • helpful
  • scary
  • friendly
  • not afraid of anything
  • sweet
  • cares for people
  • Savior
  • grateful
  • generous
  • cool
  • not afraid to do what he needs to do
  • Son of God
  • one of the 3 parts of God
  • forgiver
  • open to everyone
  • weird
  • smile
  • joyful
  • son
  • Lord
  • cries
  • all powerful
  • compassionate
  • miraculous
  • amazing
  • omnipotent
  • wise
  • does right
  • healing
  • holy
  • perfect
  • everlasting
  • never sins
  • magical (heals people)

Promo Video for Kids Camp 2011
source YouTube

Parable of the Lost Sheep (video)

Solomon Builds the Temple (story & video)

Solomon Builds the Temple - y2_w28

King Hiram of Tyre visits the Main Street students and informs them of the grand Temple that King Solomon built. An animated video walk-though of the spectacular Temple is shown to give a realistic visual of what it might have looked like.

We are also reminded that we, as God’s special people, have a big job to accomplish: to show the world what God is like (and what God might want this world to look like).

Doing the Opposite of What’s Expected

Quite often it is difficult to pin down the ethic of the kingdom of God in our everyday lives. Giving concrete examples of living out the Gospel that go beyond the obvious (reading your Bible and praying everyday and being nice to everyone) are hard to come by. Every now and then, I come across examples in our culture that touch us in profound ways and model to us what living out the Gospel of Jesus Christ means.

Below is one such story. You can read about the Gainesville State High School football team and/or you can watch it unfold below:

Solomon Becomes King and Asks for Wisdom (story & video)

Solomon Becomes King and Asks for Wisdom - y2_w27

King David dies and his son, Solomon, assumes the throne. The LORD asks young Solomon what he could do for him. Solomon responds by asking for wisdom so he could rule well. The LORD is pleased with Solomon’s request and further grants him wealth and fame as well.

King Solomon wrote numerous proverbs and wise sayings. There is even an example of the application of his wisdom as he settled a dispute between two young mothers over a baby.

CLICK HERE to watch the video directly on vimeo, or press play via the embed link below: