Thursday, July 22, 2010

Acts 14b

Acts 14 (NIRV) No whys. No hows. We're just scratching the surface here. What do you see? And maybe you need to tell your kids..."I'm not looking for right or wrong answers here. What do you see?"

Through most of the chapter Paul & Barnabus are taking a journey. They've been commissioned - sent out on a mission - they have a purpose, a job to do. Sometimes the people they spoke to believed them. Sometimes they didn't. They faced definite challenges.

They spoke with "great power" and won over lots of people. Jews who didn't believe tried to "poison the minds" of those new believers against Paul & Barnabus (vs. 1-3) so Paul & Barnabus "spent a lot of time there". They didn't seem to be in a hurry or on a set schedule. God performed miracles "to confirm the message of His grace".

There's more conflict & disagreement (vs 4-7). Then the leaders and members from both groups threaten Paul & Barnabus. When the apostles find out their lives are in danger they flee. But they continue their work in other cities & surrounding areas.

When they heal the man with the crooked legs (vs 8-10) things sort of backfire. Or maybe we could say the apostles face the opposite of opposition. (vs 11-18). The people want to worship them as gods. See how upset Paul & Barnabus are about this? They don't even seem to wrestle with the possibility of deserving this "honor". They tear their robes. In verses 14-18 look at the grace-filled picture of God they paint for these people. Look at their references to elements solely under God's control that these people would be intimately acquainted with.

The opposition shows up again (the Jews from Antioch & Iconium) and they win over the crowd. They stone Paul & drag him out of the city & leave him for dead.(vs 19-20) Where was Barnabus? We don't know. The disciples gather around him. Turns out Paul didn't die. The scriptures don't tell us that the disciples pray for healing for Paul but we do know Paul is left for dead but he doesn't die. One minute he's almost dead but the next minute he gets up and goes back into the city. The next day Paul & Barnabus are off again.

The next place they go they win lots of people. Then they return to Antioch (home of the competition and I think their starting point, the place they were commissioned) (vs 21-23) They help the believers gain strength. They tell them to remain true to what they've been taught. 'We must go through many hard times to enter God's kingdom,' they said, knowing first hand. Paul and Barnabas appointed elders, leaders, in each church for the people they influenced but it looks like they did that when they came back, not right away. The elders had trusted in the Lord. Paul and Barnabas prayed and fasted. They placed the elders "in the Lord's care."

They continue to travel & share the good news & God's Word. (vs 20-24) Do you have any idea how much exercise these guys are getting, lol?

They go back to Antioch where they had been originally committed to the Grace of God to do the work He gave them to do. I wonder if it meant committed as in dedicated or committed the way you commit your child to the care of a stewardess when they need to take a flight without you ...

How old do your kids need to be to read the stories of scriptures and make observations about grown ups doing God's work? There are various levels of observation. The wonder of God's Word is that every time you read it He'll show you things you didn't see before. We keep growing and changing always experiencing more of life, and hopefully more of God. Our perspectives and understandings grow & change. Then, you can read scripture with a child a half a century younger than you are and he/she can point out something you've never seen before. He is an awesome God.

I think older kids can listen to this chapter, one part/one scene at time and make observations. Giving kids age appropriate but sometimes challenging opportunities to see, hear, and interact with the Word and ask questions (even if you don't have answers) is a good thing. Maybe it can help them grow "eyes to see" and "ears to hear"... and us, too...

Acts 14 a

Oh...right...I was going to post these wasn't I...

Someone was looking for activities for Acts 14 (NIRV). There's the very short story in the middle of the chapter that's often told in Sunday School about Paul (God - no Paul is not God. No, God is not Paul...God, through Paul) healing the man. (vs 8-10). I think there's even a song for that story. I like songs for remembering the words & stories of scripture. Paul was talking, the man was listening. His legs were crooked. He'd never walked. For me the striking thing about this story is that, for whatever reason, Paul looked right at the man and saw faith. Faith to be healed. What does faith look like? What did Paul see? If asked the questions, adults will tell you one thing but what will children say? What does faith look like? Paul said the word and the man was healed.

What changes when you've spent your entire childhood and adulthood lying down, sitting, or being carried and suddenly you can walk? I say "suddenly" but I'd guess it takes times for muscles to begin to work strong all the time. But what changes for you - things that are good, thing that are easier and things that aren't. Individually, socially . . . Scripture doesn't really say. Just that God did what He did.

The rest of that chapter might be worth exploring with older kids. When you start reading Acts keep a list of the strengths & weaknesses of recurring characters ie. Paul & Barnabus. By the time you get to Acts 14 you'll have a more multi-dimensional view. You could do that with places & people groups too or find out more in reference resources. What do you know about Jews & Non- Jews (Gentiles) that might affect your understanding of this story?

When you finish a story ask your kids, "What can we do or make to remember this story?" Maybe they go home and think about it and come in the next week with their materials & a plan. When they finish, let them share what they've made or the activity they've thought of. Some teachers & children will it very hard to do this - to break out of that very directive classroom mode to more of a discovery- self-directed approach. I say "self" but you will probably be surprised to see what God can do. You'll learn more about the kids and how they interact with God and the scriptures. The kids will learn more about each other and their God-given uniqueness.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

so much for "good bye"

My sister sends me Charles Swindoll's Insight for Today. The Insight (July 17, 2010) this particular quote comes from is about helping. Here is the quote I like :

"I wholeheartedly agree with Philip Yancey, a man who models his own advice: 'C. S. Lewis once likened his role as a Christian writer to an adjective humbly striving to point others to the Noun of truth. For people to believe that Noun, we Christian writers must improve our adjectives.'"

writer or not .....what if each of our lives is an adjective pointing to the One Living Noun of Truth . . . I live with some people who are very very sensitive to the nuances of language. Lord help us improve our adjectives...

Saturday, July 10, 2010

If you've been praying for this to end, thank you for that. I've tried & kept finding more to say but I'm slowing way down. Haven't had any comments or feedback for a very very very long time. Intentionally didn't start any new books this year because I'd be tied to this for another year (or more). Over the Easter season, I tried looking at and listening for kids in the lectionary but that's something you can do yourself if you're interested. Five years ago, I think this blog helped some people connect. Now there are lots of bloggers networking about "postmodern" ministry to children.

Although there are some inexpensive activity ideas woven in here and there but it's more pondering than activity ideas. I hope you'll find some new thinking tools here. If you're reading a book, if you're looking at the scriptures, consider doing it with a couple of coworkers or parents or both.

What do we want to do? We want our kids to love Jesus, to love God - Father, Son, Holy Spirit. We want them to learn to love people. We want to give kids life long faith tools and teach them how to use them. We want to teach them how to learn from God's words & actions & stories. We want to teach them how to see God working in their day to day lives and how to interact with Him and stay faithful (because God is faithful) through the good, the bad, and the ugly. We want to kindle and feed the desire to press on to know God for who He is. We want to constantly affirm to them that no matter how old they are they play an integral part in their faith community and the greater world - in God's world. We want them to do what God says and we want to be examples to them - God's representatives, God's ambassadors, the way Jesus was to His world.

There's no end to books & blogs & thoughts & opinions. If you have Father/Son/Holy Spirit, His Word, a faith community and you're able to use/give all that God's given you as an individual you've got it all. If I find something interesting I'll post it but otherwise, I have nothing more to say.