Sunday, November 29, 2009


"role play activities for toddlers and preschool to take initiative" - another google search that brought someone to Emerging Kids. Interesting...considering that most of us spend more time trying to redirect or inhibit toddler initiative...

What kind of initiative do you see in toddlers? in preschoolers? Initiative to encourage or discourage? How do you encourage it? How do you discourage it?

How do you grow and direct or develop child initiative? How much initiative do you allow a child?

Do you have good kids? Do you have problem kids? Does it have anything to do with initiative?

Who are your problem kids? Why are they problems? If you take them out of their boxes and describe what they're doing and why it bothers you can you come up with a plan to redirect that same energy/skill/interest so it's productive instead of disruptive - so it benefits the child and the people or environment around him/her?

Something to think about.

Ever think about Jesus - if, how, whether He encouraged those around Him to take initiative or were all His followers and all the "heros" of scripture just doing what they were told?

Monday, November 23, 2009

Stories in Acts

Stories for children from Acts:

Somewhere near the beginning of Acts in Acts 2 we have a promise: "And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call."

In Acts 7 Stephen speaks to the Sanhedrin (who is bringing charges against him) recounting God's Old Testament story with Israel including Abraham and promises to his descendants, Moses as a child and a youth ...children are the fiber of the OT narrative. They inherit God's promises.

But let's say you list all the stories in Acts - a continuation of God's story after Jesus returned to the Father. Who was there? Any chance there were children around when that story happened or would children have heard the story 2nd hand - adults talking about it after the fact? If they were there, what would someone under 5 notice (see, hear, taste, touch, smell)? What would make sense to them? What would they remember? How about someone under 10? A pre-adolescent? A teen?

This is my favorite:
Acts 21:3-6. This was clearly a family affair. I wonder if this was the norm or whether it was the exception. How many observations can you make from this story or rather this very short passage? Was it just cultural or is there something more here?

Thursday, November 19, 2009


Scott is one of the pastors at Artisan. Very creative people. Rock on, you guys!

Scott's blog post

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


Someone came looking for Sunday School material for this passage from John 6 (NIV):

After the people saw the miraculous sign that Jesus did, they began to say, "Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world." 15Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself."

I did a Bible Gateway search for "Jesus king" Most of the references listed include "kingdom." He was always talking about the kingdom of heaven. Not sure that he was talking about being king.

Then you have Matt 17:25. You have Matt 27:11 and Matt 27:37.

For years, my husband has asked the question, "Do we assume Jesus was a king like every other king or is it that Jesus came being what a king is supposed to be." George got quite upset once to hear a pastor say that Jesus changed when he got to heaven. Our understanding is that He is the same yesterday, today, and forever...

So keep going. Take your study and see what the gospels say about Jesus and king. Search the OT and the rest of the NT, too if you want. I try hard to make observations and ask questions. The waters get murky when we start drawing conclusions. The waters get dark when we teach those conclusions as scripture. We comment on the scriptures and become the primary voice instead of stepping aside so the scriptures can be the primary speaker and speak for themselves - Himself. If I fail, tell me.

Prayerfully go searching, go looking and see what you find...Then ask, how can I share these stories about God with children? What does God say about kingship and Jesus as king? Do they say anything?

You'll want to share what you discover but you'll also want to give your kids opportunity to share what they discover. Separating the way all of us have grown up to understand "king" from what Jesus says and what He came to show us about being "king" will be the hard part.

Monday, November 16, 2009

God-given senses

I suppose you could fall into traps focusing too much on sensory experience (sight, sound, smell, taste, touch). I suppose theology, learning, sensory learning and sensory experience would be an interesting paper for someone to write. Not me. I would get lost and get you lost rather quickly.

Where I've been coming from is believing that we underestimate the value of using the five senses that God gave us as legitimate and important learning tools, especially for children-especially for young children. When we see the need in every other sphere of learning, why not in our learning about God (Father, Son, Holy Spirit) and His Word? Kids learn that way anyway. Most children begin interaction with and learn about their world through their senses. They grow sensory memories that become points of reference for new associations and new learning.

Why would this be less true if we're learning about God than it would be if we're learning something else? Why not maximize those elements in His stories if they point us back to Him? True. God is invisible. True. Scripture says that. But scripture also says He is creator and that there are things to learn about God through what He has created. The exact quote is here. Focusing on how we learn specifically about "his eternal power and divine nature" through what He's made would be an adventure, wouldn't it.

We will always have the children (people) who are more receptive to sensory learning than to other learning. God made them that way. I want to say He did it for a reason - whether we think we know what it is or not. He is an amazing and awesome God. He took a big chance. He sent Jesus, His own son to become a real human being with human senses. To me, that in itself says something about God. Remarkable! He chose to be "God with us" in more ways than we can ever know. He didn't have to become a human being. He could have come up with another plan (He's God, after all).

There is no other god like Him. Thank You, Lord, for coming to us as someone like us (yet still God and very very different) and then giving yourself to reconcile us to the Father. Thank You for all that Your hands have made and that we can be a part of that. Bless You Father, Son, Holy Spirit.

Saturday, November 14, 2009


Another sensory dimension to explore in Biblical stories.

Simon the tanner - what does a piece of tanned leather smell like? Do you know what other smells you would smell in a tanner's home or place of work? How 'bout the smells at Simon the Tanner's for an overnight guest? :_) What does Peter's willingness to stay there say about him? Maybe that's why he was on the roof, lol!! Maybe why he was having visions . . . just kidding.

What about a carpenter? The smells of fresh cut wood?

What about the lady who worked with purple dye? What did she look like? What did she smell like?

What does it smell like to be around a farmer or a fisherman? None of this seemed to phase Jesus...

I'm not trying to get weird with this but the way I understand it, smell is important to sensory memory. Smell may be important to remembering a story, making associations, or triggering learning that might not happen without it, even for children. I'm talking off the top of my head now but doesn't sensory memory help create cognitive memory?

God didn't have to tell us what so and so did for a living but He did. Maybe it was an identification tool like "son of" (an other term that brings multi-dimensions to a character because of his/her family and geographical history.)

Apart from job economics and social standing, think about the tools someone used to do his work, what kind of muscles would this person have? Shoulders? Strong fingers? Strong legs?

What kinds of "chemicals" or smells would fill his clothes, workplace, home? Was it sweaty work? Dirty work? Was he always apt to come in with dirt under his fingernails or maybe his/her hands were permanently dyed.

What would you see around the house of a tanner? a potter? a carpenter? a merchant? Maybe opportunities for more speakers or field trips tying past to present. Again, it might take some research to find out what those jobs were like 2000 years ago. And you don't want to overwealm your young audience so they tune out. Do you think it's out of line to use our God-given imaginations this way in order to interact with God's stories?

You can read this and say, it's not relevant to the story. It would take too much time or out-of- class prep or ...."it's a waste of time" but you won't really know what it adds to the story and the things God can show you or the things He might do until you try.

In it's simplist form? A piece of tanned leather when you talk about Simon. A bag of fresh cut wood chips when you talk about a carpenter. A piece of wet clay to smell when you talk about a potter. A farmer's T-shirt when you talk about a farmer. A myrex shell and freshly dyed cloth, when you talk about purple dye. 150 years ago in Upstate NY children could walk down the street and experience the sights, sounds, and smells from lots of jobs they might find in the scriptures and not even give it a thought. That kind of sensory understanding and association was part of life for most people. Not so today.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Supplies and rhythm instrument source

Discount School Supplies - an online source. If you do crafts with kids or home school, check them out. They also have rhythm instruments.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Bible Photos

Googled "photos Bible landmarks" Have you seen this? Bible Places. Interesting potential for walking tours. Take the places Elisha walked and find them on the left sidebar.

Then there's Bible Walks. Find the location on the map. Point and click for a photo.

More photos from Biblical sites at Sacred Destinations.

And check out

I'm sure there's more . . . check the copyrights, permissions and such ... I don't know if there are sources/software that will give churches permission to use the photos over and over within their church like they do song overheads especially if people are using Power Point more for Christian Education/Christian Formation & worship.

The obvious drawback is that kids are looking at ruins instead of a picture of the outside where they can imagine actually being there. Something to play with.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Elisha and the Water and engaging kids

Someone was looking specifically for this story Elisha & the Bowl.

But here's the thing. Water. Water is one of those things that most of us take totally for granted. Just turn the tap on anytime, day or night, and you not only have clean water but as much water as most of us would ever need. Have you or the kids in your class ever been in a situation where the only water that you have available was bad water - undrinkable water- water that won't even make plants grow? If not, how do you bring this to children?

I'm assuming that at the time of the story, unproductive land had to do with the inability to grow food and feed livestock. The land wouldn't grow anything they could eat and they couldn't use the water. Even the springs were bad. Isn't a spring usually the place where water is most fresh and clean?

How much do you know about water? What do we use water for? Why do we need good water? Why is it important? If you want to get into the science and social studies of water there are probably interesting lessons and info to be found that might give you more to think about or activities to use. If you have someone in your congregation or community who works with community water or at keeping the water clean, you could invite a speaker.

If I have bad water, put a little salt in a bowl or take a whole bowlful of salt and throw it in bad water will the water get better? Probably not. God did something special - something He doesn't normally do. He worked a miracle. He healed the water and made it better.

What does it mean if God heals you and makes you better? Something else we take for granted with all the doctors and medicine we have available. It's a miracle when God heals us but we don't see it that way until God's miracle is the last resort.

God healed the water and Elisha promised it would never get sick again. The water would stay healthy so the land and the people could use it without worry for generations. So whatever caused it to begin with wouldn't be happening again.

It was after this story that the youths tease Elisha. Maybe the two stories have to be told together in order for the "miracle" that Elisha did calling the bears and the horrible consequences in the second story to make sense to us.

If you wanted to talk about salt, you could probably find out more about salt. If it was a whole bowl of salt - that's a deadly amount of salt for people. With older kids you could send them home with questions to think about and have them come back with the answers they find. Send one group with questions about water and one group with questions about salt. It might speed the process and engage them. What kind of bears lived in Israel thousands of years ago? How common were they? That kind of thing...

The other thing, if you know your kids, some kids would love going home and finding information to share. Some will love acting it out. Some will love bringing a science experiment about water and presenting ways we can help keep our water clean. Some would love to draw or write a poem or create a diorama or build a vehicle or a house or lead a song. Why not use the wealth of skill, talent, and personality that your kids have to learn and to worship? Why does everyone have to do the same thing? You will find that when kids are doing what they love, even if everyone is doing something different that it will get very quiet in your room and they won't want to quit. Let the group people work in groups and the individualists do their individual projects. Not to say you can't ask them to operate out of their element once in a while or more than once in a while. Can you use elements like this to reward & give meaning to kids who really don't want to be there? Make your active energetic child the game leader. Let him/her bring a game to share each week. When class goes smoothly and you finish early they get to play the game (inside or outside). Your leader may have to have a stack of 3 minute games, 10 minute games, and 15 minute games. But use your imagination!

And for all the times I forget to add this... what are you learning about God and His Word? When you finish a lesson do you know Him better than you did before? He's God! Ask the kids. What did you learn about God? See if it takes you into a worshiping place. There's always more of Him. Eternal life is to know Him. We get to start anytime. He's not just one dimensional. He's not just 2 dimensional. Enjoy all that God has created - "always giving thanks" to the God who made it.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Character studies & activities

So that's just an example of a character study. How would you do it with a class? For what age? What would you focus on?

Depending on the age of your class, what can you do for activities when you do character studies? Art? Craft? Service? Science? Maps? History? Ancient culture? Drama? Can you make it Hands-On?

How much research will you do? Will you do it or will you let the kids do it? What did you, as teacher, take away from this learning experience? What did you discover about this character? What was his/her most memorable trait? or most memorable moment? What did you learn about God? What will you do to remember God and what He did?

How about your kids? How directive will you be? How much structure will you give them and how much room will you give them to make discoveries and let the Holy Spirit guide them, to open their eyes and let them see?

Who was this man Elisha? Part 8

Elisha shows up again in chapter 13. Jehu, apparently, is gone. Hazael is still going strong. Elisha is sick and dying. Jehoash, now king of Israel in Samaria, is doing evil in the eyes of the LORD but he comes to Elisha. Weeping over Elisha, Jehoash cries, ""My father! My father! . . .The chariots and horsemen of Israel!" [Upset because Elisha is sick and dying or upset about the impending battle?]

Kings 13 (NIV)

15 Elisha said, "Get a bow and some arrows," and he did so. 16 "Take the bow in your hands," he said to the king of Israel. When he had taken it, Elisha put his hands on the king's hands.

17 "Open the east window," he said, and he opened it. "Shoot!" Elisha said, and he shot. "The LORD's arrow of victory, the arrow of victory over Aram!" Elisha declared. "You will completely destroy the Arameans at Aphek."[Remember, this isn't a king who seems to be walking with God but Elisha is still helping him.]

18 Then he said, "Take the arrows," and the king took them. Elisha told him, "Strike the ground." He struck it three times and stopped. [Notice, Elisha doesn't coach this guy the way he did the widow he sent out for the jars.] 19 The man of God was angry with him and said, "You should have struck the ground five or six times; then you would have defeated Aram and completely destroyed it. But now you will defeat it only three times." [Has Elisha gotten angry before? Even when he cursed the boys, does it say he was angry?]

20 Elisha died and was buried. "

But that's not the end of Elisha's story. Continuing at verse 20..."Now Moabite raiders used to enter the country every spring. 21 Once while some Israelites were burying a man, suddenly they saw a band of raiders; so they threw the man's body into Elisha's tomb. When the body touched Elisha's bones, the man came to life and stood up on his feet." [Interesting?]

"24 Hazael king of Aram died, and Ben-Hadad his son succeeded him as king. 25 Then Jehoash son of Jehoahaz recaptured from Ben-Hadad son of Hazael the towns he had taken in battle from his father Jehoahaz. Three times Jehoash defeated him, and so he recovered the Israelite towns." So I say, "Yay! They won!" but then I remember that Elisha got mad because Jehoash would ONLY win 3 times. Next time, he would lose.

Luke 4:27-28 (NIV) is the next place we hear about Elisha: Scripture says: "27And there were many in Israel with leprosy in the time of Elisha the prophet, yet not one of them was cleansed—only Naaman the Syrian. 28All the people in the synagogue were furious when they heard this." Because of who Elisha was? or was it just God's choice? or both?

Which takes us back to Naaman and the little servant girl who just seemed to be in the right place at the right time and not by her own choice and God used her to start something that people would hear about (literally) for ages . . .

. . . Right. We were talking about Elisha. He was one of the prophets that Jesus specifically mentions.

So that's an example of an amateur character study - yet another way to look at scripture and learn about God. I have to say that I'm left with a new understanding and respect for the prophet Elisha - one of the men God used to write His story. And if you want, go back through Elisha's story or the story of any of God's characters. Look at God as the significant character in the story, the role he played and how He responded to Elisha and the other people around him.

Who was this man Elisha? Part 7

2 Kings 8

Look at this long term relationship Elisha has with this family! More info about the man.

Elisha warns this family that a famine is coming. He tells them it will last 7 years. He tells them to go and stay wherever they can. Hm...the common people seem to listen to Elisha and do what he says. It's the prophets who don't seem to listen to each other, lol! The woman listened to him and took her family to the land of the Philistines. She returns. She wants her house and land back and it just so happens that Gehazi (there's his name again) is responding to the king who asked him to recount all the great things Elisha has done and here comes this woman whose boy Elisha raised from the dead. The king gives her back lost home, land, and income. Nice friend to have!

The king of Aram gets sick and sends Hazael to inquire of Elisha. The king sends Hazael with gifts (lots of gifts!). He wants to know if God will make him better.

Elisha says, yes, the king will get better but he'll die. Then Elisha stares down Hazael. Hazael feels ashamed. Elisha starts to weep. Hazael asks Elisha why he's weeping. God has shown Elisha the horrible things that Hazael will do. Wait. Wasn't this the king who just laid seige to Samaria? And Elisha is weeping over what is about to happen to him?

Verse 13 Hazael asks, "How could your servant, a mere dog, accomplish such a feat?"

Elisha tells him, "The LORD has shown me that you will become king of Aram."

Hazael leaves Elisha, returns to his master, and he tells the king that he will recover but the next day he takes a thick cloth, soaks it in water and spread it over the king's face, kills the king and himself becomes king just as Elisha predicted. Israel & Judah join forces trying to defeat him but Ahab's son gets wounded. Elisha sends one of his company to anoint another king. Which takes us to 2 Kings 9.

Don't lose track of which king is which here. I have. More character studies for you.

Anyway... all this drama is set in motion and we see not just Elisha's words fullfilled but Elijah's as well.

Who was this man Elisha? Part 6

Not long after that, the King of Aram lays seige to Samaria. There's a famine. Elisha delivers the Word of the Lord. He tells the disbelieving officer, "You'll see it but you won't eat it." Then we don't hear about him for a bit.

The famine goes on so long that mothers in Samaria are threatening to eat their children. Sorry. I wasn't expecting that part. One lady even goes to the king. But the king replies, if God isn't helping you, what do you expect me to do? When he hears the woman's story (which I won't repeat) he tears his robes. He wears sackcloth under his robes. He blames Elisha. He's ready to kill Elisha, the man of God, saying "May God deal with me if I DON'T kill Elisha." I'm rushing through this. Go back and read it. It's worth pondering a little longer...The king, his role and responsibilty. His accountability to God. Elisha, the man of God, his role, responsibility and accountability to God and the position the king finds himself in. It seems that the king is at his wit's end trying to do the right thing, trying to be responsible to God, trying not to blame God so let's blame Elisha. Let's kill him. Maybe then God will do something. No. Maybe not . . .

From 2 Kings 6:24-33 (NIV):

In the meantime, Elisha is sitting in his house, and the elders are sitting with him. The king (who's ready to kill Elisha) sends a messenger ahead. Before he even gets there, Elisha says to the elders, "Don't you see how this murderer is sending someone to cut off my head? [Remember the other rumor? One king is told what the other king was thinking in his bedroom because Elisha tells them. Again, Elisha knows.]

Elisha continues, "Look, when the messenger comes, shut the door and hold it shut against him. Is not the sound of his master's footsteps behind him?" There's something rather nonchalant and funny about this. People leaning against a door is going to keep the king away if he wants someone dead? But the king doesn't follow the messenger to kill Elisha. He sends a different message not the original message that Elisha "heard".

"33 While he [Elisha] was still talking to them, the messenger came down to him. And the king said, "This disaster is from the LORD. Why should I wait for the LORD any longer?" Apparently as upset and confused as the king was, the king didn't give up on the prophet..

In 2 Kings 7 the story continues. God with Elisha come to the rescue. The Word of the Lord that Elisha delivered concerning the officer comes to pass.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Who is this man Elisha? Part 5

This was the prophet the little girl sent Naaman to. Had she heard all these stories? Had she been there? The story of Naaman follows in 2 Kings 5 (NIV).

I think last time we read this story we were looking at the child. If you reread Naaman's story see what this story tells you about Elisha.

2 Kings 6:1-7 NIV)

Moving on. Elisha's company of prophets come to him and tell him their meeting place is too small. They say, " 2 Let us go to the Jordan, where each of us can get a pole; and let us build a place there for us to live." I'm not sure what the significance of each man having a pole is but there is probably something cultural/historical and interesting to be found there. Apparently they gained numbers during Elisha's time. When the others suggest they expand, it seems Elisha seems more than open to the suggestion. Elisha says, " Go ahead." Apparently Elisha was not planning on going with them. It almost looks like they beg him to come but I might be reading too much into it. Anyway, Elisha gives in and goes, too. He could've said, "No, this wasn't what I was planning on doing today..."

They go off to the Jordan. They begin to cut down some trees. "5 As one of them was cutting down a tree, the iron axhead fell into the water. 'Oh, my lord,' he cried out, 'it was borrowed!'

6 The man of God asked, "Where did it fall?" When he showed him the place, Elisha cut a stick and threw it there, and made the iron float. 7 "Lift it out," he said. Then the man reached out his hand and took it."

This was a miracle but the way I see it there's some special kindness here. One of the guys borrows someone's ax, the head is loose, falls off and sinks to the bottom of water where by all rights it should have stayed. Luckily no one got hurt. The guy would probably have to replace it and they could've gotten into whether the axhead was loose to begin with and who's to blame yada yada yada. Elisha didn't have to retrieve the axhead. But he did with God's help. He's a man of God in the office of prophet but it seems to me he is using what God gave him to meet needs and extend kindness without the usual "Thus sayeth the Lord" and he does it ALOT!

The king of Aram gets upset thinking there is a spy in their midst. But there isn't. One of his officers tells him, 12 "None of us, my lord the king . . . but Elisha, the prophet who is in Israel, tells the king of Israel the very words you speak in your bedroom."

The scriptures continue

13 "'Go, find out where he is,' the king ordered, 'so I can send men and capture him.' The report came back: 'He is in Dothan.' 14 Then he sent horses and chariots and a strong force there. They went by night and surrounded the city." Elisha is a wanted man and the king of Aram sends a whole army to capture one prophet, lol!

Back to scripture: 15 When the servant of the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city. "Oh, my lord, what shall we do?" the servant asked. [I wonder if this is the same servant. I wonder why sometimes the servant is named and sometimes, not.]

16 "Don't be afraid," the prophet answered. "Those who are with us are more than those who are with them." [Elisha sees what no one else sees and, it appears, he's not afraid or worried.]

17 And Elisha prayed, "O LORD, open his eyes so he may see." Then the LORD opened the servant's eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. [Another kindness? Why not just expect the servant to take his word for it? "Have faith! Believe!" I'm not mocking, I just think it's interesting that he asked God to open the servant's eyes so he could see what the prophet saw. He was just a servant, after all. Irrelevant but it also makes me wonder if Elisha was once an imaginative child.]

18 As the enemy came down toward him, Elisha prayed to the LORD, "Strike these people with blindness."

God did it. Again, God did what Elisha asked. To save himself? All the glory is God's in this story so maybe it doesn't really matter. It's just interesting.

19 Elisha told them, "This is not the road and this is not the city. Follow me, and I will lead you to the man you are looking for." And he led them to Samaria.

This is sort of funny. Apparently they didn't know who they were looking for or that they'd found him. It's kind of fun when you're reading scripture and you discover that God has a sense of humor. I love it!

20 After they entered the city, Elisha said, "LORD, open the eyes of these men so they can see." Then the LORD opened their eyes and they looked, and there they were, inside Samaria.

21 When the king of Israel saw them, he asked Elisha, "Shall I kill them, my father? Shall I kill them?"

22 "Do not kill them," he answered. "Would you kill men you have captured with your own sword or bow? Set food and water before them so that they may eat and drink and then go back to their master." 23 So he prepared a great feast for them, and after they had finished eating and drinking, he sent them away, and they returned to their master. So the bands from Aram stopped raiding Israel's territory." [Elisha keeps feeding people!!]

I'm sure you can make many more observations than these. The whole idea of seeing and not seeing, too. But considering what could have happened, this is a pretty amazing story and it tells you lots more about this man and abit of foreshadowing of Christ Jesus. Considering that the army had come to capture Elisha and the king was willing to protect him with another army. . . Considering that Elisha was originally commissioned to kill the ones that were left after the king and the other prophet were done it seems this might have been a God-given opportunity for that but what does Elisha do? He just feeds them! Just give them something to eat and send them on their way. Wait. Who's providing all this food, anyway? The king of Israel is feeding his enemies? Oh! It's a pretty amazing story.