Family Resources - November 22
Isn’t the fall a beautiful time of year? The leaves this year have been so beautiful and vividly colored. Last Sunday morning, I stood outside in the windstorm before the rain, watching them blow through the air in gusts, swirling and spinning in circles, brushing past me on their way down to carpet my lawn. In the seeming chaos of the storm, the beauty of God’s creation was evident. A good reminder for 2020.
We wanted to share with you some highlights from our curriculum, so that your child will be able to follow along with the lessons they are being taught in Children’s Ministry. This blog post contains information about this week’s lesson from our Gospel Story curriculum, which is being taught to 3 & 4 year olds, up through 3rd grade, as well as this week’s lesson from our New City Catechism that is being taught to 4th-5th graders. May it brighten your week and bless you!
The lesson for this week from the Gospel Story Curriculum is about Israel and Ai. The biblical account for this story can be found in Joshua 7 and 8. If you would like to read the child-friendly version of this story from the Gospel Story Bible, you may click here. To access the weekly coloring sheet, click here, then scroll down to the last page.
One easy activity you can do with your kids is to play a game of Button, Button, Who's Got the Button. If you have multiple children, play the game normally, letting one child leave the room while you and the other children remain behind. One of you holds a button, or other small object, and all of you make fists with your hands. The child who left can be called back in, at which point they say "Button, button, who's got the button?" They get 1-3 guesses to try to find who is hiding the button in their hand. If you only have 1 or 2 children, and feel this game would be too easy this way, you can hide the button in an obvious spot in the room, so that the child coming back in has to find it. After playing a few rounds of this game, swap the button out for a large letter S cut out of cardboard. The letter S stands for our sin. It should be big enough that it is difficult to hide, certainly by a person, even in the room. We might think our sins are small and easy to hide, like the button, but to God, even a "small" sin sticks out like a large letter S. He sees our hearts and knows when we wander away from Him. Thankfully, He is a merciful God, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. If you've sinned, repent and ask for His forgiveness.
If you have a pair of toy handcuffs, you can use them for this next object lesson. Otherwise you can use a piece of rope, tied not too tightly. Talk to your kids about what handcuffs are and what they are used for. Demonstrate by putting your kids hands in the handcuffs, then letting them put yours in. Are handcuffs a little bit scary? To a criminal, yes, they should be. But if you're not planning to do anything wrong, they are helpful. Handcuffs are good things, because they stop the bad guys from doing more and more bad things. They might not be fun to wear, they might hurt your wrists after awhile, but at least the bad things are stopped. God punished Achan for his sin, and it stopped the bad things from happening. It also helped the rest of the Israelites from wanting to sin and do bad things as well. God's judgements are always just.
For this object lesson, you will need a broomstick. Have your child hold the broomstick pointed up and out, like Joshua held the javelin pointed towards Ai. Have them hold it like that the whole time that you are telling the story of the second battle with Ai. Pause every now and then to remind them to keep the broomstick up. At the end of the story, when they are allowed to lower the broomstick, ask them if it made their arms tired. Joshua's arms were probably tired, too. So why would God ask him to do this? Instead of fighting, Joshua just held the javelin. This was a reminder to the Israelites that it was not their own fighting that won the victory, but that the Lord was fighting for them, that He was their victory. If you have older children, have them look up Exodus 17:8-16 (Moses and the battle of the Amalekites) and Exodus 14:16 (the parting of the Red Sea), to see how God used this technique a few other times, to point towards Himself and remind the people that it was the Lord fighting for them.
There are a couple of teaching points that are really good to draw out to your kids as you go through this lesson. First of all, it’s good to remember that you can't hide your sins from God. No matter how well we think we hide our sins, no matter how we trick even ourselves into thinking it's "not that bad", God always knows. He sees our hearts and He sees our sins. Thankfully, Jesus is our peace offering. After the punishment of Achan, Joshua offered a sacrifice to God, a peace offering (Joshua 8:31). We no longer have to offer sacrifices, because Jesus came as the ultimate peace offering, given by God. Romans 5:1 tells us that we now have peace with God. Jesus says in John 14:27, "Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you." Finally, help them see that God rewards obedience, just as He punishes disobedience. What Achan selfishly stole after the defeat of Jericho, God freely gives to the Israelites after the defeat of Ai. If Achan had only been patient and obeyed and trusted God, he and his family would have survived and been able to have some treasure honestly. God does not withhold any good thing from His people, but we need to remember to honor Him first.
Our Sword Bible Memory Verse for November comes from Psalm 18. For preschoolers, they are learning Psalm 18:30. For K-2nd grade, they are learning Psalm 18:30-32. And in 3rd grade, they are working on learning Psalm 18:30-35. To see the verses printed out, you can click here and go to Sword Verse #11.
The New City Catechism question for this week is question #17 - “What is idolatry?” Answer - “Idolatry is trusting in created things rather than the Creator.” The biblical passage for this lesson comes from Romans 1:18-25. The weekly memory verse for this age group is Romans 1:21, 25.
There are a couple of resources that go along with the lesson that you can find by clicking here. The first one is a thought bubble. Encourage your child to write down or draw pictures of the things they daydream about. Often, when we look at the things we daydream about, it helps us see what things we are tempted to make into idols in our life. Just as a reminder, these things are not bad, they are most always good things, but when we begin to elevate their importance over God, that is bad.
The other resource is a blank comic strip template. Another way we can see what things we are tempted to turn into idols is when we look at our anger. What makes us angry when it is taken away from us? Is our anger righteous, or is it us thinking of ourselves and this idol more than about God and His goodness? Have your child draw a comic strip, where somebody gets mad about something, only to realize they were making that thing into an idol in their heart.
For this next activity, you will need to gather some items on a tray. They can be the real deal, or toys or small objects that represent a concept. Gather items for the following things that people are often tempted to worship:
Money - Adventure - Cars - Food - House - Romance - Friends - Celebrities - Education - Technology - Fashion - Sports - Travel
Have your child come look at the items on the tray for 30 seconds, then cover the tray with a cloth and let your child write down as many as they can remember.
If you’re looking for other resources for ideas and activities you can do with your children to help them use their time to invest in God’s kingdom, here are some we recommend:
https://pin.it/UuGZLuk (A fun game to play with your kids in preparation for Thanksgiving)
Hide_and_seek.htm (A children’s sermon, emphasizing the Bible point that we can’t hide our sin from God)
When-things-we-love-become-our-idols (An object lesson about putting God first in our lives)