Monday, October 16, 2017

October 16: Feed My Lambs - FIRST!

Be an Example for Every Child, Week Four

Feed My Lambs - FIRST!

The scripture for this week is the one that speaks directly to my call at this time. So often we hear these words, but they are not portrayed in the correct order. Many do not notice that first Jesus calls us to feed the lambs. We seem to skip over our lambs and go straight to the
http://www.biblekids.eu/new_testament/lost_sheep/lost_sheep_index.html
sheep that need tended. We do not put our lambs first financially or spiritually. We do not create strong foundations of people to walk with each child because we forget that WE are the ones called to walk with them.

This is how we best love Jesus. We feed the lambs, first. By recognizing and authentically loving, teaching, empowering, worshiping, and knowing God's smallest people, we are supporting all of us who walk with one another.

Below you will find some of my favorite resources to help the everyday person lead a child in the ways of faith.

God of Children
Let us not limit the lights of the children around us. Let us recognize that it is not programs that they need, but people. It is not entertainment that lasts but engagement. Let us remember that we are all vulnerable children whose strength comes recognizing You in themselves, the people, and world. Help us to truly feed each others mouth, hearts, and souls. In Jesus Name, Amen. 


John 21:15
When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my lambs.”

(Read the weekly scripture each day. Find a phrase or word that speaks to you. Share your reflections with others over dinner, social media, and in prayer. Share the scripture with a child you know in the car, through a text, or in a children's Bible.)

Resources and Links
Favorite Bibles, CDs, etc: http://www.docfamiliesandchildren.org/shop
God's Big Storycards (My family uses this at dinner with the Children's Bible): 
Seamless Faith and Faithful Families by Traci Smith
Pockets Magazine (I bought this for the children in my family last Christmas): http://pockets.upperroom.org/about-us/ 


Rev. Dr. Olivia Bryan Updegrove: Families and Children’s Minister for Disciples Home Missions, and Part-Time Pastor for Independence Christian Church, KY.

*The view represented in these devotions come from a variety of diverse perspectives. We do not seek to agree but seek to welcome all to the conversation and the table.

Friday, October 13, 2017

October 13: Super Powers, Suicide & Speaking Life

http://www.doodle-art-alley.com/courage-quote-coloring-pages.html
Be an Example of Love, Week Three

Super Powers, Suicide & Speaking Life


Death by suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death for children 10 to 14 years of age, and the 2nd largest cause of death for youth and young adults 15 to 34 years of age in the U.S. Super Powers, Suicide & Speaking Life was created to offer insight as to how the people of God can understand, healthily respond to, and better support those affected by suicide and suicidal thoughts. Rooted in the hope that we bear as people of God, this resource can help us light a candle with our children, by equipping us with language, wisdom and inspiration to fight for their lives with our love. The webinar offers general information about suicide, discuss key elements, warnings signs, and resilience factors for suicide, and offer practical ways we can nurture, support, and stand along-side those affected by suicide—especially our teens and young adults. The hope is that this webinar can be used as a tool for discussion and contemplation during youth groups, parenting groups, bible studies and more!

Gracious God, creator of life and designer of the very air we breathe,
Thank you for the hope your spirit brings when the temptation of death surrounds us. Gird our hearts and mind with your truth as we come along side our hurting children. Help us resist feelings of shame and guilt as we resist the societal stigmas that only add to our children’s pain and our own. Let us instead be filled by your grace, love and wisdom, seeing ourselves and our children as you see us. Grant us peace oh God, to stand with them in a mighty way, gentleness and kindness as we love them and ourselves in a balanced way, and courage and joy for strength as we love them in a fearless way. In you precious and powerful name we pray. Amen.


1 Thessalonians 1:4-8
For we know, brothers and sisters beloved by God, that he has chosen you, because our message of the gospel came to you not in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction; just as you know what kind of people we proved to be among you for your sake. And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for in spite of persecution you received the word with joy inspired by the Holy Spirit, so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. For the word of the Lord has sounded forth from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but in every place where your faith in God has become known, so that we have no need to speak about it.


(Read the weekly scripture each day. Find a phrase or word that speaks to you. Share your reflections with others over dinner, social media, and in prayer. Share the scripture with a child you know in the car, through a text, or in a children's Bible.)

Resources and Links

NBA Webinar Link For the Devotion
https://www.nbacares.org/care-resources/webinar-suicide-prevention

Other Suicide Prevention Resources
https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org
https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/suicide-prevention/index.shtml
http://www.sprc.org

If you are in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741-741.


Angela Whitenhill MDiv., LCSW and National Benevolent Association

*The view represented in these devotions come from a variety of diverse perspectives. We do not seek to agree but seek to welcome all to the conversation and the table.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

October 12: Children are Watching

Be an Example of Love, Week Three

Children are Watching 

Tourists crowd into special places for clearly advertised reasons. Others show up to watch the crowd. I admit that I am a “people watcher.” My children have taken up my hobby, noticing strange quarks or a disconnect between behaviors and context. We enjoy watching artists, working in their own world, even when surrounded by a crowd. We love watching groups follow blindly. We especially enjoy watching children. We love watching them watch. 


Children see so much more than the adult carrying them realizes. They communicate so much more than their care-givers know. We see the mischievous sparkle in their eye, just before they try to sneak away. We see the friendly smile that invites us to wave. We see the curiosity when they spot a new shape of beard or hat on a stranger. Still, my favorite moments are when children spot us watching them. 

Something happens when they recognize that they are seen. There is a connection that goes beyond eye contact or a smile – a spirit that moves, and reminds everyone in that moment that they are part of something more. For all of us, being seen affirms our self-worth, and allowing others to see us creates a connection. Our children have so many gifts to share, but we can never underestimate the gift of recognition, even in a subtle way. This is an act of love that is shared between people and invites us to be more observant and loving. We can be intentional or even flamboyant, but love invites us to see each other and let them see us, even if it is just a kind smile across the isle of a bus, or a compassionate nod at another’s yawn. Love connects us all, and we feel it when we see each other. 

1 Thessalonians 1:4-8
For we know, brothers and sisters beloved by God, that he has chosen you, because our message of the gospel came to you not in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction; just as you know what kind of people we proved to be among you for your sake. And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for in spite of persecution you received the word with joy inspired by the Holy Spirit, so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. For the word of the Lord has sounded forth from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but in every place where your faith in God has become known, so that we have no need to speak about it.

(Read the weekly scripture each day. Find a phrase or word that speaks to you. Share your reflections with others over dinner, social media, and in prayer. Share the scripture with a child you know in the car, through a text, or in a children's Bible.)

Resources and Links

Rev. Yates' VBS Curricula: YodaYadaVBS.com
Vibrant Faith: https://www.vibrantfaith.org/
InsideOut Camp Curriculum: http://insideoutcamp.com/


Rev. Lee Yates, 
Pastor of Covina Community Church and Managing Editor of InsideOut Camp Curriculum. He is also a freelance writer whose work can be found in the United Methodist's "Bible Lessons for Youth" and a variety of resources from Vibrant Faith Ministry.

*The view represented in these devotions come from a variety of diverse perspectives. We do not seek to agree but seek to welcome all to the conversation and the table.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

October 11:Children Have Different Gifts

Be an Example of Love, Week Three

Children Have Different Gifts

One of the best resources that can help engage children in their faith is the online Kids Sunday School curriculum. This curriculum is broken down into grade levels. It is fully equipped with lessons, art, games and music and so much more. The children enjoy learning about the bible characters through skits and song presentations. We learn that all children have different gifts and talents and these lessons help us as teacher support each little one in their faith and keep them engaged in the congregation.

Heavenly Father, give us the wisdom and patients to study your word each and every day so that we can share the good news with all the children we come in contact with. May we be a positive Godly influence on the coming generations so that we may all worship your name together. Amen. 


1 Thessalonians 1:4-8
For we know, brothers and sisters beloved by God, that he has chosen you, because our message of the gospel came to you not in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction; just as you know what kind of people we proved to be among you for your sake. And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for in spite of persecution you received the word with joy inspired by the Holy Spirit, so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. For the word of the Lord has sounded forth from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but in every place where your faith in God has become known, so that we have no need to speak about it.


(Read the weekly scripture each day. Find a phrase or word that speaks to you. Share your reflections with others over dinner, social media, and in prayer. Share the scripture with a child you know in the car, through a text, or in a children's Bible.)

Resources 
Ministires Across Generations, Families and Children, Family Resources: http://www.docfamiliesandchildren.org/copy-of-family-resources
Kid's Sunday School: https://www.kidssundayschool.com/255/gradeschool/lessons.php

Yessica Munoz, Children’s Ministry Leader, Ministries Across Generations

*The view represented in these devotions come from a variety of diverse perspectives. We do not seek to agree but seek to welcome all to the conversation and the table.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

October 10: Listen to Their Questions, Discover Their Greatness

Be an Example of Love, Week Three

Listen to Their Questions, Discover Their Greatness

My faith is expanded most by asking questions about things in the Bible that confuse me or seem to contradict my own experience. I seek input from my friends, members of the church, and my parents (basically anyone that will listen) in order to discern my own understanding of scripture and how that applies to my life today and the next day and the next. The hard part is thinking about the answers that I get back. Often, the answers do little more than bring about more questions. It becomes about the journey and not about the destination. I often find clarity of thought by being in God's beautiful creation and seeking God in the natural world, by looking up into the vast array of stars and meditating on the words of Psalm 19: “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of God’s hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge,” and remind myself that God created me and that I was "very good" as it says in Genesis. Focusing on nature is one of the greatest ways to realize God's greatness and just how powerful God is.

Hey God,
Your awesomeness shows in the glory of your creation. Help us through the many questions that we have and be with us as we journey together in search for You. Amen.


1 Thessalonians 1:4-8
For we know, brothers and sisters beloved by God, that he has chosen you, because our message of the gospel came to you not in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction; just as you know what kind of people we proved to be among you for your sake. And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for in spite of persecution you received the word with joy inspired by the Holy Spirit, so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. For the word of the Lord has sounded forth from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but in every place where your faith in God has become known, so that we have no need to speak about it.


(Read the weekly scripture each day. Find a phrase or word that speaks to you. Share your reflections with others over dinner, social media, and in prayer. Share the scripture with a child you know in the car, through a text, or in a children's Bible.)

Resources
ReForm, Echo and other curricula from Sparkhouse: https://www.wearesparkhouse.org/
Can I Ask That? http://stickyfaith.org/askthat


Blake Coe, General Youth Council, Kerrville, Texas

*The view represented in these devotions come from a variety of diverse perspectives. We do not seek to agree but seek to welcome all to the conversation and the table.

Monday, October 9, 2017

October 9: Quality God Time

https://www.surfnetkids.com/coloring/3014/nighty-night/


Be an Example of Love, Week Three

Quality God Time


So often the things kids need most is quality time with us. I have always found bedtime to be a sacred part of my day with my children. During this time we read, we rock, we sing, we pray, and the little person tries to avoid bedtime. Sometimes, I love when they avoid bedtime. I love this time of just being together. Dinner time can also be the same. If you have children, youth, or a young adult in your world find a way at least once to spend quality faith time together. This is a time where you are building a loving relationship of trust with one another and with God.

The “God” part can make adults nervous. There are many very simple ways, however, to connect faith into your everyday life. To intentionally connect an aspect of faith with the sacred quality time, can change a relationship in profound and meaningful ways. My favorite tool for all ages is a good children’s Bible. The Bible can be overwhelming for many people. A children’s Bible can introduce all ages to the stories of our faith, and help all of us connect (when we are ready) to the “big” Bible.

Dear God,
We thank you for the stories that show us how to love each other. Let us share that love with you. Let us see you in those we love as we share all the amazing things you have done for us. We remember Jesus who taught us to love you best. Amen.


1 Thessalonians 1:4-8
For we know, brothers and sisters beloved by God, that he has chosen you, because our message of the gospel came to you not in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction; just as you know what kind of people we proved to be among you for your sake. And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for in spite of persecution you received the word with joy inspired by the Holy Spirit, so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. For the word of the Lord has sounded forth from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but in every place where your faith in God has become known, so that we have no need to speak about it.


(Read the weekly scripture each day. Find a phrase or word that speaks to you. Share your reflections with others over dinner, social media, and in prayer. Share the scripture with a child you know in the car, through a text, or in a children's Bible.)

Resources and Links
Day to Day Faith: http://www.docfamiliesandchildren.org/untitled-cdwm 

Jerusalem Greer's Blog: http://jerusalemgreer.com/ 
Picture Book Theology: http://www.picturebooktheology.com/ 
Storypath: http://storypath.upsem.edu/

Rev. Dr. Olivia Bryan Updegrove: Families and Children’s Minister for Disciples Home Missions, and Part-Time Pastor for Independence Christian Church, KY.

*The view represented in these devotions come from a variety of diverse perspectives. We do not seek to agree but seek to welcome all to the conversation and the table.

Friday, October 6, 2017

October 6: Storytelling with Children

Be an Example of Justice, Week Two

Storytelling with Children

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." John 1:1

Stories from the bible shape us as Christians. It is through story and narrative that the love of God is communicated to us. Instead of telling a bible story to the children, allow them to become a part of the story. Through play, children learn stories using their bodies, their voices, and their minds.


The online free resource CBS for Kids empowers leaders to play with children and their
http://educationalcoloringpages.com/bible.html 
favorite stories of the bible. When watching children take ownership of their bible characters, I become more aware of the kinds of choices and interpretations of scripture that I could not be awake to without this kind of freedom and exploration. It is a powerful exegesis tool. This guide gives step by step instructions for how to lead children in bible discovery. There are 16 ways to tell a story in the downloadable PDF (see below) and there are scriptures to accompany them. There are memorization verses from each story and interactive models. Children are more than observers, they help reveal God’s story to us.

When I was serving abroad as a Global Mission Intern with Global Ministries, I got a chance to accompany a Biblical Storytelling Troupe called CCI in Chiang Mai, Thailand. They told bible stories through Thai folklore called Likay. This troupe told bible stories in public schools around the country (and the world) using a kind of storytelling unique to Northern Thai people. It was intergenerational and a great way to welcome people into the love of God through storytelling. I saw first-hand how the love of God transcended limitations created by language, age, race, doctrine, societal status, economic status, and gender.

Amazing things happen when we tell the gospel story and we use our whole beings to do it!

Prayer: God of play, help us make fearless, bold, dramatic choices to tell your story. Use us to let the gospel loose in the world. Amen.

Hebrews 13:1-2
Let mutual love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it.


(Read the weekly scripture each day. Find a phrase or word that speaks to you. Share your reflections with others over dinner, social media, and in prayer. Share the scripture with a child you know in the car, through a text, or in a children's Bible.)

Resources and Links
CBS for Kids: Bible Storytelling: 

Bible Coloring Pages (Free): http://educationalcoloringpages.com/bible.html 

Rev. Kristin L. Wolf, Senior Pastor of United Trinity Parish, Humeston, IA, Former Global Mission Intern


*The view represented in these devotions come from a variety of diverse perspectives. We do not seek to agree but seek to welcome all to the conversation and the table.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

October 5: LGBTQ Youth Abuse Awareness

Doodle Art Alley
Be an Example of Justice, Week Two

LGBTQ Youth Abuse Awareness

Despite celebrating marriage equality in 2015, being LGBTQ in the US has not become any easier—especially as a youth. On a daily basis youth struggle to understand their sexuality, their gender and their identity. As any lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer person can tell you, being different is not easy. Not being straight is scary whether at school, at home, or with friends. The pressure to fit in is very intense and some are bullied, others are punished, some “pray the gay away.”

These circumstances push young LGBTQ minds to believe that being straight is “normal” and anything else is “wrong.” They try to change or hide their identity. For those that are open with their identity might still face bullying and pressure. The sad reality is that this mentality that being straight is normal and being gay is abnormal is harmful. Youth are mentally and physically abused—some to the point of wanting to hurt themselves.

For youth that are questioning their identity and struggling with pressure from society, they can turn to the Trevor Project. The organization was founded to help save the lives of LGBTQ youth when they face the horrors of not fitting in. Their hotline is always live and they have text capabilities. When our youth are struggling, they need to know they are not alone and that there is still a future for them no matter their sexual or gender identity.

Heavenly Lord God,
We pray for our youth. Being young is not easy, let alone being an LGBTQ youth. They need our prayers and our love. They need allies and support. They need to know that being straight is not the only option. We are all children of God, created in God’s beautiful image. Our daily prayer is to be reminded of the beauty in each of us, no matter if we are straight, gay, bisexual, lesbian, transgender, queer, or asexual. We pray that this harsh world may begin to grow from the seeds of love we have planted, so that all our children may also know the love and joy of friendships, relationships and family. We ask all this in Jesus’ name. Amen.


Hebrews 13:1-2
Let mutual love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it.


(Read the weekly scripture each day. Find a phrase or word that speaks to you. Share your reflections with others over dinner, social media, and in prayer. Share the scripture with a child you know in the car, through a text, or in a children's Bible.)

Resources and Links
LGBTQ Hotline: 1-866-488-7386, http://www.thetrevorproject.org/
Alliance Q: http://disciplesallianceq.org/
Families and Children: http://www.docfamiliesandchildren.org/sexuality 


Joe Heidenescher, Disciples Summer Peace Intern in 2017

*The view represented in these devotions come from a variety of diverse perspectives. We do not seek to agree but seek to welcome all to the conversation and the table.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

October 4: Let Justice Flow Down Like Waters

Be an Example of Justice, Week Two

Let Justice Flow Down Like Waters … 

"Let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream." Amos 5:24
                                                                                                  
Ever think about the idea of having “water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink”?  Lots of us take  access to good, clean water for granted, but we shouldn’t. There are 844 Million people in the world don't have access to clean water. Yes, there is a global water crisis, but we don’t have to look abroad for children and families being deprived of clean water due to water pollution problems, corroded pipes,  and drought. The flint water crisis was discovered three years ago, but it is still a problem for many families and children in Flint.

Asking yo
ur local water department about the source and path your water takes to get to your faucets and get a print out of the most recent analysis of your water content. Discuss these facts with your family and explore together how you can help protect and preserve water sources and systems in your community or state. Also, check out what our Global Ministries are doing to help families struggling to gain access to clean water across the globe. 

Next time you enjoy a shower or bath, swim or take a nice long drink of clean water, take a minute to tell God “thank you” for the gift of clean water and pray that water justice will flow down like a river for all God’s children.

Hebrews 13:1-2 Let mutual love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it.

(Read the weekly scripture each day. Find a
phrase or word that speaks to you. Share your reflections with others over dinner, social media, and in prayer. Share the scripture with a child you know in the car, through a text, or in a children's Bible.)

Resources and Links
Flint and other water issues from a faith based, intergenerational perspective on our DOC Families and Children’s website: http://www.docfamiliesandchildren.org/kids-to-kids
Listen to Marty Haugen’s song: “ Let Justice Roll Like a River” at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GckRvdAoiqA

Rev. Kate Epperly D. Min. Minister for Justice and Advocacy for Family and Children’s Ministries, DHM

*The view represented in these devotions come from a variety of diverse perspectives. We do not seek to agree but seek to welcome all to the conversation and the table.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

October 3: The Language of Play

Be an Example of Justice, Week Two

The Language of Play

Children, especially youn
g children, have a remarkable ability to overcome language and
cultural barriers. Their concern is play, and they don’t need the right words or the right legal status to be able to play together. As they start to notice differences, this is the perfect time to learn lessons of inclusion and empathy.

These children’s picture books introduce immigration through the eyes of children. For children who relate to the experiences, the stories may give them words to speak their feelings and help them feel less alone. Other children might recognize their friends or classmates in the pages and discover ways to make all children feel welcome.

Hebrews 13:1-2
Let mutual love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it.


(Read the weekly scripture each day. Find a phrase or word that speaks to you. Share your reflections with others over dinner, social media, and in prayer. Share the scripture with a child you know in the car, through a text, or in a children's Bible.)


Resources and Links
Children’s Picture Books on Immigration: coloursofus.com/multicultural-picture-books-immigration
Other Children Books: http://www.docfamiliesandchildren.org/childrens-books


Tana Liu-Beers, Disciples Home Missions Immigration Counsel

*The view represented in these devotions come from a variety of diverse perspectives. We do not seek to agree but seek to welcome all to the conversation and the table.

Monday, October 2, 2017

October 2: Justice and Ted Talks

Be an Example of Justice, Week Two

Justice and Ted Talks
Justice is a tricky topic these days in the divided political landscape. As you begin this week of devotions, I share with you that studies have shown that the emotional brain responds before the thinking parts of the brain. There are certain words and topics that lead many people to respond with their emotional brain before finding a way to engage their thinking brain into the conversation.
The young brain is not fully developed until the age of 25. Thus often youth and young adults will respond without allowing enough time for the brain to process the consequences of their words and actions. As we seek to help our children, youth, and young adults in this difficult period, we must be willing to engage in hard conversations with grace and openness.  

This week there will be devotions that may challenge your emotional brain. I encourage all of us to teach one another and our children how to find ways to have conversations that are able to move beyond our emotional brain to our thinking brains as we seek to find God in one another, and to recognize God’s goodness in all of us.

Below you will find some links to “TedTalks.” The radio hour, videos, and teenage voices are all great ways for youth and all ages to engage in conversations around many topics and issues.  There is also a link to our kid and youth blog page. It contains a link for the program “rethink.” This program was started by a teenager who is helping stop cyber-bullying by teaching teens how to “rethink” before responding.

Hebrews 13:1-2
Let mutual love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it.

(Read the weekly scripture each day. Find a phrase or word that speaks to you. Share your reflections with others over dinner, social media, and in prayer. Share the scripture with a child you know in the car, through a text, or in a children's Bible.)

Resources and Links
How are Brain Works: https://ed.ted.com/on/olWd648B
Teen Ted Talks: https://www.ted.com/playlists/129/ted_under_20
Ted Talk Radio Hour: http://www.npr.org/programs/ted-radio-hour/?showDate=2017-09-08

Rev. Dr. Olivia Bryan Updegrove: Families and Children’s Minister for Disciples Home Missions, and Part-Time Pastor for Independence Christian Church, KY.


*The view represented in these devotions come from a variety of diverse perspectives. We do not seek to agree but seek to welcome all to the conversation and the table.