Knowledge

Your word is like a lamp that shows me the way.
It is like a light that guides me.
Psalms 119:105 (NIrV)

When kids turn about four years old they start asking, “Why?” It’s like suddenly a switch flips and they begin to string together their questions in an attempt to understand everything around them. And this continues throughout life. Watch an eight-year-old for very long and you can become convinced that everyone is wired with a natural curiosity to discover what we don’t know and go where we haven’t been. 

God designed people in such a unique way—different from the rest of creation—to pursue finding the answers to life’s hidden secrets. The very fact that we naturally pursue knowledge is proof that there is a God. It’s actually genius that God would make us in such a way that we are always discovering, wondering, exploring, innovating, improving, and solving. He wants us to pursue knowing more, because He wants us to know Him more.

The most important thing you can do for young kids is to invite them into the story about a really big God. It’s a story that will always be bigger than they can explain or imagine, but God invites them to spend a lifetime discovering who He is and how He loves them.

Jesus helps us know God better. As we dig deeper into the story of Jesus, we discover more about how God desires a relationship with us and invites us to help Him spread the message of Jesus throughout the world.

That’s why we think it’s important for us to help our kids and families discover more about knowledge—discovering something new so you can be better at whatever you do. We want kids to know that God is real, God made them and all things. We hope they leave this month believing that when they discover something new about God, they are learning the best way to win at life.

The four bottom lines for this month are:

Discovering what God says helps you know Jesus.

What God says is the most important thing to know.

Discovering what God says helps you follow Jesus.

Discovering what God says helps you make the wise choice.

When you don’t know what God says, ask.

JOY

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“Always be joyful because you belong to the Lord. I will say it again. Be joyful!
Philippians.” 4:4

Joy is a response to the character of God.

When God created the world, He made it to be a place of peace and contentment. In the Magnificent Paradise, God provided fruit trees that were pleasing to the eye and good to eat. And He personally walked with His creation! But when sin entered the world, so did greed and jealousy. As circumstances changed and life presented more challenges, people found it harder and harder to be happy. However, even now in this broken world, God wants us to have joy.

Even though we try to find joy through our stuff, or our vacations, or our relationships, joy isn’t dependant upon any of those things. Joy is about being content beyond our circumstances. We can have joy when we recogize that God’s plan is greater than our own. Joy is a response to our trust in God.

Jesus is the reason we find joy.

God sent His only son as a baby, born in humble circumstances. Jesus wasn’t what anyone expected, but this was how God wanted to rescue the world. God made good on the promise He made hundreds of years before. This December, we pray that through the story of Jesus, kids realize that God loved them so much that He sent His Son to be here on this earth. The story of Christmas can remind us through every season, regardless of our situation, there’s a reason to celebrate what it means to have a relationship with God.

The four bottom lines for this month are:

~I can have joy because God keeps His promises.

~I can have joy because anything is possible with God.

~I can have joy because God sent His Son.

~ I can have joy because God’s story is for everyone.

Honor

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“Love one another deeply.
Honor others more than yourselves.”
Romans 12:10(NIrV)

Chances are if you have kids in sports or competitions of any kind, you have a growing collection of ribbons and medals, sashes and badges, certificates, trophies, or plaques. Some might hang on your walls or sit propped up on shelves somewhere. But if we’re honest, others get stuffed into a drawer and eventually thrown out. These were so important when they first came into our homes, but at some point they just lost their value. All those awards and medals can only mean so much, because honor has a deeper meaning.

People should not just be honored because of what they do; they should primarily be honored because of who they are. Stuff will lose value over time, but not people. At its core, honor is seeing people the way God sees people. We’re naturally wired to put ourselves first, but honor is the opposite of self-centeredness. It is something that flows from your relationship with God. In a sense, one of the best ways we can HONOR God, is by honoring those who reflect the image
of God.

Jesus was the ultimate example of someone who showed others their value.

When Jesus came here, He showed us how to love and show honor to those around us. He taught us to love our enemies, care for the “least of these,” and become the servants of all who puts others’ needs before our own.

When kids start doing that, they will be more willing to show God’s love to others and put their needs ahead of their own.

This month the four bottom lines are:

Honor others by giving them a chance

Honor others by putting them first

Honor others by keeping your promises

Honor God by putting Him first

 

Courage

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“Be strong and brave. Do not be afraid. Do not lose hope.
I am the Lord your God. I will be with you everywhere you go.”
Joshua 1:9b NIrV 

Sometimes I think it would be nice to be a superhero. Most of the time, it’s like they act without a single ounce of fear. They see a problem and without thinking they jump to the rescue to save the day, conquering evils and injustices in their tracks.

But I’m not a superhero. In fact, none of us will ever be a superhero or have some super-human power from an alien planet or radioactive spider bite. But with or without the super powers, we will face moments in our lives when it feels like the odds will not be in our favor, the obstacles will seem overwhelming, and we will have to overcome that which seems impossible. And when those moments happen, where will we find the courage we need to face the everyday enemies or evils in life?

In truth, we’re all called to do heroic things every day. And those moments can be scary.
One of the most difficult things we will ever learn to overcome is fear. In fact, it’s unrealistic to expect anyone to become completely fearless. That’s why our goal as leaders and parents should be to help our children not become paralyzed by those fears, but learn what to do in the face of them.

That’s why we’re taking the month of October to discover what God says about courage as—being brave enough to do what you should do, even when you’re afraid. Think about that—even when you’re afraid. The truth is, you WILL be afraid. So, the question is, when fear is present, where do you find the courage to stand up, or push through, or keep going?

Our goal as parents and leaders is not to raise superheroes, but to raise everyday heroes.We need our children to understand, because they believe and trust in God, they have a unique source of strength and courage. There will be times when we’re going to be afraid. But we can trust in a God that is bigger than us. And put our hope in a God who is with us and is in control of every situation. Because of God, we can find the strength to be courageous, every day heroes.

The 5 Bottom Lines for this month are:

You can do what you should even when you don’t know what will happen next.

You can do what you should even when you don’t feel ready

You can do what you should even when things seem impossible.

You can do what you should even when others are afraid.

You can do what you should because God is with you.

Trust

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“Trust in the Lord with all your heart.
Do not depend on your own understanding,”
Proverbs 3:5(NIrV).

The circus can be a fun experience. But have you ever watched the circus through the eyes of a child? How they suddenly point to the sky as they notice the courageous men and women who walk, skip, and even ride bikes three stories above you on the high wire. They inch their way out onto the wire and for what you hope is only dramatic effect they bobble and tinker on the wire only millimeters from losing their grip.

The audience collectively gasps and your child grabs you and whispers “Are they going to fall?” You reassure them that of course not, these guys are pros. They won’t fall … you look up at the wire praying you didn’t just lie to your kid. They finish their routine and the audience goes wild! Nothing like a daring trip to the circus to experience what it means to trust.

The performers trust that the wire will stay tight, their legs will stay strong, and their toes won’t let go. And the audience trusts that the performer will expertly complete their routine and not give anyone the opportunity to explain, “that’s why we don’t have a high wire in our backyard.”

Whether on the high wire or in life, trust is important. If we don’t trust, we might miss the opportunity to watch God show up and do what only He can do.Throughout the Bible we see different people who have put their trust in God in the midst of some unbelievable circumstances.

Putting our trust in God and the people He’s put in our lives isn’t always easy. That’s why we’re taking the month of September to see what God says about trust.

We define trust like this: putting your confidence in someone you can depend on.

There’s a phrase we often say around here, “I can trust God no matter what.” And it’s true; we know that God is that Someone we can depend on. Our own understanding can have a way of getting us in trouble sometimes, especially when life doesn’t turn out exactly how we’d want or expect. That’s why it’s important that our trust is grounded in God, His love for us, and His willingness to do whatever it took to have a relationship with us.

The four bottom lines to remember this month are:

When you think you’re alone, you can trust God is with you.

When life doesn’t make sense, you can trust God is with you.

When the pressure is on, you can trust God is with you.

You can trust God no matter what.

Obedience

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 “Trust in your leaders.
Put yourselves under their authority. Do this because they keep watch over you.”
Hebrews 13:17a, NIrV,

The phrase “Trust and Obey” may come off trite and cliché, but the point of the phrase is nonetheless true. Trust and obedience go together. That’s why we define obedience like this:

Obedience is trusting those who lead you by doing what you’re asked to do.

Our obedience demonstrates that we trust people who are in charge, as well as, shows God we trust His plan for our lives. But we don’t always get it right, do we? And our disobedience breaks our relationship with God.

All throughout Scripture, we see how God responds to that disobedience. While there were consequences, God continued to love the world and made a way to restore our broken relationship. With that in mind, this school year, we’ll walk kids through God’s One Big Story of God’s plan to rescue us by sending Jesus, His only Son, to make it possible for us to have a relationship with God again.

Obedience, we can’t get around it. Obedience is something everyone has to work on whether we’re 9, thirty-nine, or seventy-nine. We can’t wait to see what God will do in each of our lives as we discover more about what the Bible says about following and obeying God and those He’s put in authority over us.

The bottom lines for this month are:

I should trust and obey even when I think my way is better.

I should trust and obey even when others don’t.

I should trust and obey even if I don’t know how it will all work out.

I should trust and obey because there’s a bigger plan.

 

Faith

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 “Faith is being sure of what we hope for. It is being sure of what we do not see.”
Hebrews 11:1 

Summer is one of those times of the year when you hope to escape your normal day-to-day and head off on a family vacation. As we travel the world and experience the different landscapes and cultures, often we can’t help but notice that no matter where in the world we are, God is already there and up to something amazing.

The prophet Isaiah writes, “The whole earth is filled with God’s glory.” And that glory was made real when 2000-some years ago a REAL human was born, lived a perfect life, died, and rose again. Of course, that man is Jesus. And throughout the past 2,000 years since, His story—His LIFE—has been changing the world.

This summer we’re excited for kids to experiencing that life-changing story of Jesus first hand and put their faith in Him.
Our hope is that kids discover that no matter where they are in the world, the story of Jesus can change them, too.

The four bottom lines to remember this month are:

The story of Jesus changes everything.

The story of Jesus changes how I see him.

The story of Jesus changes how I see others.

The story of Jesus changes how I help others.

Contentment

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“I have learned the secret of being content no matter what happens. I am content whether I am well fed or hungry. I am content whether I have more than enough or not enough.”
Philippians 4:12b (NIrV)

Do you ever notice that you define yourself by specific things or circumstances that show up in your life? Maybe it’s like there’s this box you carry around with everything that defines you: your stuff, your work, your family, your kids, your gifts and talents, or your home.

But there’s a problem with looking at life like this because if this is how we see our lives it’s all too easy to become preoccupied with the wrong thing. Think about all the stuff in the box. It’s “your” stuff, right? Or is it?

We tend to talk about our lives using words that highlight our ownership of those things and circumstances. Words like my, ours, and mine. And those words can make a huge difference on how we see the world. As long as we keep using these words, we can tend to believe that our stuff will make us happy and that putting more stuff into our boxes will make us even happier.

But the truth is just the opposite. Something radical happens when we look at our life as not really ours. When we view our life as really God’s gift to us—it changes everything. When we see that all the stuff we have is somehow connected to God and the story He wants to tell with our lives, it begins to change the way we see everything. When our world doesn’t revolve around us, our situations look a lot different.

That’s why this month, we want to explain something to kids about contentment. It is deciding to be happy with what you’ve got. In other words, you can choose to be happy because of what God has actually given you. You can choose to shift your focus away from what you don’t have and toward what God desires to do with the life you have. When you trust Him with your life, you become more focused on being grateful for everything He’s already given to you.

The Bible has a lot to say about contentment. This month, we’re going to unpack several of those moments where people learned something about contentment as well as some key principles about how we can live our lives focused on trusting God no matter what.

See, when it comes right down to it, contentment is a heart issue. It can’t be solved by getting the thing that’s off-limits, the thing that someone else has, or even more of a good thing you already have. In other words, contentment happens when we place our trust in the One who is able to meet our needs each day.

When you teach kids to see their life as a gift from God it sets them up for a life of contentment and fulfillment. There will be no reason to be distracted by what others have, or what’s off limits, or what we had in the past. And when all of us really trust God, we will be content with exactly what He has put in our box for today and won’t worry about the future.

The five bottom lines for this month are:

When you focus on God, He can help you be content.

When you focus on what you don’t have, it can make you miserable.

When you focus on what you used to have, you can miss what you have now.

When you focus on stuff, you can miss what matters

When you focus on God, you don’t have to worry. 

 

Perseverance

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Perseverance

“But those who trust in the Lord will receive new strength. They will fly as high as eagles. They will run and not get tired. They will walk and not grow weak.”
Isaiah 40:31

Have you ever run a marathon or some long distance race of some sort? You put in weeks, even months, of training your body and building the stamina needed to run 26.2 miles. You race. You may not win, but you get past the leg cramps, water stations, even that dreaded mile 20, and you finish. Not many people can honestly put those 26.2 bumper stickers on the back of their cars. Finishing a marathon is quite the accomplishment.

Just like runners show perseverance on the track, Christians often have to show perseverance in their faith. Jesus never promised that following Him would be easy. In fact, He said quite the opposite. “In this world you will have trouble.” But in the next breath He encourages His disciple with these words. “But have no fear, I have won the battle over the world.”

Jesus won the battle over the world as He persevered through the worst: rejection, violence, heartache, and even death itself—all to rescue us. This is why the author of Hebrews told us to “fix our eyes on Jesus.”

In fact, the author of Hebrews has a lot to say to his audience about perseverance. See, life was very difficult for these early Christian as they were persecuted for their faith. They were forced into hiding. They met secretly in fear of violence. By simply continuing to believe that Jesus was the Son of God, the early Christians were seen as outcasts. So, the book of Hebrews was written to remind those Christians to refuse to give up. Even though life had gotten hard, they needed to keep doing what they knew was best for them to do.

This month, we’ll spend most of our time in the book of Hebrews where we’ll discover more about what the Bible says about perseverance. We define perseverance as refusing to give up when life gets hard. We have the chance to lean in to them and say: “Don’t give up. Persevere in your faith. Trust God no matter what.”

When it comes down to it, we all have experienced things that we would have never experienced if we didn’t push through the difficult times. When you get to the other side, you’ll see something that you would have never seen before—if you just believe in what God can do and what God can do in you.

Our four point for this month are:

1. When life gets hard, remember God is with you

2. When life gets hard, remember how others have persevered

3. When life gets hard, remember what Jesus did for you

4. When life gets hard, remember you can help others persevere 

Hope

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 “In this world you will have trouble. But be encouraged! I have won the battle over the world.”
John 16:33b, NIrV

Hope. It’s a word we hear thrown around from time to time.

“I hope you have a great day.”

“I hope you’re feeling better.”

“Hope that meeting with the boss goes well”.

We hope for things all the time, big and small. But when you really look at the idea of HOPE, you start to notice the weight of it all. Hope in its truest and most life-giving form is something that God has uniquely offered the world.

Throughout history, God has been revealing himself as the one, true God who always keeps His promises. God is working out all the details of this life for the good of those who love him and are called according to His purpose. His faithfulness is eternal. His mercies are new every morning.

The hope that God offers can bring light into the darkest of circumstances.
That’s why we’ve chosen to define hope like this: believing that something good can come out of something bad.

From the beginning, God offered hope to His creation. He promised a Savior and way of rescue for Adam and Eve when they first sinned in the garden. God sent Jesus to fulfill that promise. And through Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection God continues to offer hope through the eternal life we can experience through faith in Jesus.

As human beings we are limited in what we can see and understand. Often when we’re facing a difficult time, it’s like we’re wondering around in the dark grasping for some sort of light to get us through the night. Our life is going to feel like that sometimes, like our life just doesn’t make sense. Our world will be dark and confusing and down right scary. For our kids, this might be difficult to understand.

But here’s the thing, we get to speak into the hearts of kids and families, reminding them that even in the dark, God is still in control. God still loves them. God is powerful enough to make something good come out of something bad. And God will faithfully carry them through the darkness into His marvelous light.

The four bottom lines to remember this month are:

Whatever happens, remember how powerful God is.

Whatever happens, remember what Jesus promised.

Whatever happens, remember God is still at work. 

Whatever happens, remember God loves you