Sunday, August 19, 2012

I Remember You

I was overwhelmed and touched by the many people who remembered me on my birthday via gifts, visits, telephone, texts, and facebook. Was Jesus asking too much that we remember Him? How much more worthy is our Savior and King to receive our remembrance, our attention, our love than anyone else?  And I knew the church kids would love to be remembered, too, in a special, personal way. 

Pondering each child, one at a time, I  recalled a fond memory, and matched it with an appropriate Bible verse. After printing my list on card stock, I cut them apart and mixed them up. I made several of the last one for any visiting children,  and planned to greet their families and learn their names as they arrived at church.

Once I had read the first couple of memories, the kids' eyes were glued to mine as I read the name on each next strip. Be sure to recall every child, even the ones who only attend occasionally or sporadically. Get help if you need to, but do not forget anyone. If you know the kids in your church, do this for them. They will never forget it, and neither will the adults.

Yesterday was my birthday. Maybe you can figure out how old I am. It was my 25th "29th" birthday. Many, many people remembered me on my birthday, and wished me a happy birthday, and that was so nice! Do you know I have special memories of each one of you children? So, in honor of my birthday, my gift to each one of you is a flower from my garden, along with my special memory of you and a special Bible verse just for you. I'll read each memory out loud, but I don't think I have time to read your Bible verses because there are so many of you.

>Aaron, I remember when I set up a "time-out" corner in nursery class. You wanted to try it out, so you pushed Lily down on purpose! Aaron, God made you fearless.
Be strong and courageous; do not be afraid or lose heart! 1 Chronicles 22:13
>Anna, I remember when I asked you if you were being a good girl, and you were sad because you weren't always good. God made you tender and humble, and He is very pleased with you.
“I will bless those who have humble and contrite hearts, Isaiah 66:2
>Ava, I remember at first you didn't like coming up front in church, and now you do! Ava, God made you to enjoy church.
And the large crowd enjoyed listening to Jesus. Mark 12:37
>Ben, I remember watching you polish off at least four platefuls of food at a church picnic. God gave you an appetite and the energy to match!
Do it with all the strength and energy that God supplies. 1 Peter 4:11
>Cameron, I remember many times you spoke up during Children's Moment, and I like that! God made you bold, so be bold for God, like Paul in the Bible.
He boldly preached about the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ, and no one stopped him. Acts 28:31
>Carter, I remember the day I met you, and you sang a song. It was "Open the Eyes of My Heart, Lord" and you knew every word! God made you a person who worships Him in song.
Worship the Lord with gladness. 
Come before him, singing with joy. Psalm 100:2
>Cheyenne, I remember the day in nursery class you wanted to make a picture for everyone in your family! God gave you a heart full of family love.
As for me and my family, we will serve the Lord. Joshua 24:15
>Claire, I remember you were the first Hasara I had in nursery class. God gave you a big job when He made you a big sister and a little sister, just like Miriam in the Bible.
Then the baby’s sister asked the princess, “shall I find a Hebrew woman to nurse the baby for you?” So the girl went and got the baby’s own mother. Exodus 2:7-8
>Ethan and Tyler, I remember how you two brothers always stick together. God gave you hearts filled with brotherly love.
Keep on loving each other as brothers and sisters. Hebrews 13:1
>Emma, I remember the day you ran up,to me and hugged my knees, and called me "Teacher!" God made you a person who shares love.
We loved you so much that we shared with you not only God’s Good News but our own lives, too. 1 Thessalonians 2:8
>Gabe, I remember when you shared your transformer toy, and I couldn't do it right, and you helped me. God made you able to figure things out.
Give me understanding and I will obey your instructions; 
I will put them into practice with all my heart.  Psalm 119:34
>Haley, I remember one day when you were sad, and your sadness changed to happiness. God made you for happiness.
Those who plant in tears 
will harvest with shouts of joy. Psalm 126:5
>Jena, I remember one day in nursery class you made a very special picture for your daddy. God made you a very good daughter.
In all the land no women were as lovely as the daughters of Job. Job 42:15
>Jeremy, I remember how excited and happy you were to become a big brother. You take good care of your little sister. God made you protective of your loved ones, like He is.
During my time here, I protected them by the power of the name you gave me. John 17:12
>Jill, I remember you have a favorite story, "The Elephant's Nose." It makes you giggle! God gave you a happy heart!
A happy heart brings a smile to your face; Proverbs 15:13
>Jordyn, I remember when the puppets played with you in nursery class. God filled you with wonder!
They were completely amazed and said again and again, “Everything he does is wonderful.” Mark 7:37
>Justin, I never remember you with a frown, you are always smiling. God gave you a smile that spreads happiness.
A smiling king can give people life;
his kindness is like a spring shower. Proverbs 16:15
>Lily, I remember a Children's Moment when you tried to say a great big word, and you were only four years old, and you said it perfectly! God made you able to do amazing things for Him!
“Anything is possible if a person believes.” Mark 9:23
>Mason, I remember when you admitted doing something wrong. God made you serious and truthful.
In every way be an example of doing good deeds. When you teach, do it with honesty and seriousness. Titus 2:7
>Max, I remember when you were three in nursery class, and we tried to throw ping pong balls high enough to hit the ceiling. They bounced and rolled everywhere, but you crawled around 'til you found every single one. God made you a person who does not give up.
I love those who love me,
and those who seek me find me. Proverbs 8:17
>Miguel, I will always remember the first time I saw you smile. Your whole face lit up, the room seemed brighter, and my heart was lighter, too. God made you a light in this world.
You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. Matthew 5:14
>Miles, I remember how you like to help your dad and your brother pass out the church bulletins. God made you a good helper.
He is a beloved brother and faithful helper in the Lord’s work. Ephesians 6:21
>Sam, I remember playing with you on my iPad. You thought it was wonderful! God made you to understand just how amazing He is.
Let them give thanks to the Lord for His lovingkindness, 
And for His wonders to the sons of men! Psalm 107:8
>Tatiana, I remember watching you help your brothers. God made you patient and kind.
“And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’ Matthew 25:40
>(for visitors) I remember the first day you came to church, and God remembers that day, too. God loves to see you here in church, and He hopes you come back!
You should not stay away from the church meetings, as some are doing, but you should meet together and encourage each other. Hebrews 10:25

It's nice to be remembered. It is a reminder of being loved. Jesus wanted us to remember Him, too. Let's pray. Bow your heads, close your eyes, fold your hands.

Dear God,
Bless these precious children. You remember us every day and show us Your love. Help us to remember Jesus because we love Him. Help us remember each other because of our love.
In Jesus' name we pray, amen.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Living Water

The story of Jesus and the woman at the well, from the fourth chapter of John, is familiar to children. In it, Jesus proves to the Samaritan woman that He is the Messiah by telling her all about her private life, she then runs to town to tell everyone else, a crowd comes and persuades Jesus to stay, He does for two days, and many believe in Him. The teaching about living water is usually skipped in Sunday school, thus leaving the difficult material to the preachers to explain. Children are capable of understanding more than we give them credit for. I want to make the concept of living water comprehensible to kids, and maybe a few adults in the congregation. 

It sounds like it should be simple analogy, ordinary water to spiritual water, but I was surprised at the several interpretations my studies unearthed. Living water is variously presented as being (a) Jesus, (b) the Holy Spirit, (c) salvation, (d) the love of God, (e) belief in Jesus, and (f) God's grace. The sermon I like the best, is Charles Spurgeon's "The Water of Life," number 770 preached in 1867. Here is the link to it: It is eminently adaptable to a children's lesson.

As the children come forward, give each a little 8 ounce bottle of water.
Here is a little bottle of water for each of you.
Save it for later. Maybe you could save it for bedtime.

People like to talk about their weekends. Our friends ask us all the time, "What are you doing this weekend?"
That's an easy question. We say, "Oh, I'm going to do this or that, and, of course, I'm going to church on Sunday." That's very interesting," our friend might say, "Where do you go to church?"
That's an easy question. We say, "I go to the KV Christian Church." "Oh," says our friend, "you are a Christian! Tell me, what's it like to be a Christian?"
That question is not so easy. What's it like to be a Christian?
Take that question, and hold on to it. We'll answer it before we're done.

I promised Anna a story about Jesus today, and here it is:

Jesus and His disciples are traveling, walking from Jerusalem to Galilee. About half way they stop for lunch in Samaria. The disciples go into town to buy food, and Jesus waits by Jacob's Well. A woman walks up to the well to fill her jar with water. Jesus says to her, "Give me a drink, please." At first the woman does not know Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God. Then He says, "If you knew who I am, you would ask me for water, and I would give you living water, that lasts forever, and you would never be thirsty again!" The woman says, "Sir, give me this living water, so I won't have to come to the well every day."

She thought Jesus meant ordinary water. But Jesus offered her living water. Let's try to understand living water.

*Ordinary water is good to drink when you're thirsty. But living water is for our thirsty hearts. All of us are thirsty for God's love.
*Ordinary water is good for soaking hard things to soften them up. Think of a dry sponge. But living water softens up our hard hearts. All of us think we are not so very bad, but we are.
*Ordinary water is good for putting out fires. But living water puts out every fire of temptation in our hearts. All of us are tempted by Satan.
*Ordinary water is good for washing. But living water washes our hearts that are dirty from sin. All of us do wrong.
*Ordinary water is good for growing plants and blooming flowers. But living water makes our hearts grow and bloom with good deeds. All of us need help doing good.
*Ordinary water is good for floating and swimming. But living water floats our souls all the way up to heaven. All of us want to be in heaven when our bodies die.
*Ordinary water, like the water in the well, is still. But living water bubbles up like a fountain out of our hearts. All of us could shower other people with living water, by living a Christian life.

When Jesus offered living water to the woman at the well, He was offering her a new life, a Christian life. And He offers it to you, and He offers it to me, and He offers it to every single person in the whole world. Do you want the living water? I can't give it to you. Mom and Dad can't give it to you. The preachers in church can't give it to you. Only Jesus can give you living water that lasts forever.

Remember your friend with the question, "What's it like to be a Christian?" Now it's an easy question because we learned about living water and what it's like to follow Jesus.

*It's like always having God's love.
*It's like soaking our hearts in living water to stay soft and humble.
*It's like putting out the fires of temptation with living water.
*It's like being washed clean with living water when we are bad.
*It's like being watered with living water so we can grow and bloom and do good.
*It's like floating in living water all the way up to heaven.
*It's like being a fountain of fresh, bubbly water, sharing Jesus Christ with everyone.

But it's not just having the water. You have to take the cap off the bottle and drink the water! How do we drink from Jesus' living water? We pray.

Bow your heads, fold your hands, and close your precious eyes.

Wonderful God,
We ask for Your living water, although we do not deserve it.
Won't You make us fresh fountains of bubbly, living water, so we can share You with everyone.
In Jesus name we pray, amen.