October Preview Pack

Here’s a quick look ahead to what we’ll be learning in Heroes Gate over the next few weeks:

Oct. 5: Toddlers through 4th grade will learn the value of contentment as they hear the misadventures and grumblings of the Israelites in the desert (Exodus 3:1-17:7).  Club 56 kids continue a series called Jesus: The Real Life Series. In this week’s lesson, they will learn about Jesus the miracle man as He proved that He was God by performing miracles and healing people.

Oct. 12: Toddlers through 4th grade will hear the story of how Rahab came to be part of God’s family (Joshua 1:1-2:24; 5:13-6:27).  Club 56 kids continue a series called Jesus: The Real Life Series. In this week’s lesson, they learn that Jesus never sinned, even when Satan himself tempted him.

Oct. 19: Toddlers through 4th grade will learn the importance of talking with God through the story of Gideon (Judges 6:1-7:25).  Club 56 kids continue a series called Jesus: The Real Life Series. In this week’s lesson, they learn that Jesus took the punishment for our sins because of His love for us and His desire to restore a relationship with us!

Oct. 27: Toddlers through 4th grade will rejoice with Hannah as they hear how God answered her prayer (1 Samuel 1:1-2:10; 18-21; 3:19-21).  Club 56 kids will start a new unit called ENCOUNTERS and learn that encounters with Jesus can have the power to change lives dramatically.

The Social Media Conundrum

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By Patrick Showers, Associate Elementary Pastor

Woodland Hills Church

I’ve managed to avoid this topic for years while my children were younger and none the wiser. Now I have two preteens in my home and they have access to a whole host of social media outlets from texting to Instagram. As they get older, their peers are engaged in social media activities also. They see friends who text, post pictures on Instagram, and even have their own Facebook accounts.

Social media is a great place for friends and family to stay connected and engaged in each other’s lives. For years, our kids have been stars of our Facebook accounts and other media sharing sites. Our extended families are many miles away and enjoy updates about our kids’ daily activities, special events, milestones, and pictures. Our children enjoy seeing what we post and being stars of attention from loved ones. This first taste of social media has set a norm regarding posting and sharing about their personal life in a digital stream.

Social media has also become a quagmire where people share too much, cyber bullies and predators stalk, and where normal social inhibitions are forgotten without face-to-face contact. Where data never dies, once something is posted digitally, it will always be out there somewhere, even if deleted.

As parents, my wife and I have found a few things are helpful for teaching our kids how to navigate this digital world. We’ve also gleaned some great tips from Jon Acuff. a Christian blogger, author (What Christians Like) and speaker.

1. Talk to kids before they use social media: discuss how you use it at home, at work, and why you choose to post something.

2. Help them to understand that once you send or post it can’t be removed.

3. Relate social media to real life. Ask the question, “Would I do this in real life?” or “Would I say or share this in real life?”

4. Ask kids about their digital knowledge or usage: what social media do they use, what devices, or what types of profiles do they have? What are your friends posting?

5. Think Future: posts, tweets, and texts can affect college admissions, friendships, and even jobs. Help kids to be aware of cause and effect.

6. Inform kids of the positives and dangers of social media: communication, relationship building, and self-expression are benefits. Performance anxiety, loneliness, self-comparing (especially related to popularity), bullies, conflicts, and predators are potential trouble.

The Bible doesn’t give specific insight into social media but does provide principles to guide us and our children. Philippians 4:8 reminds us to “…always think about what is true. Think about what is noble, right and pure. Think about what is lovely and worthy of respect. If anything is excellent or worthy of praise, think about those kinds of things.” Jesus also reminded us to “love our neighbors as our self”. Is what you are posting worthy of respect? Is what you are about to text loving towards that person? Is what you are sharing something that reminds people of what is right, noble, or pure? Teaching our children to approach all their media choices using these principles gives them boundaries and guidelines to guide them. With these guidelines and Biblical principles, we hope to equip and empower our children as they embark on their own journey into a digital world.

See more about Jon Acuff at http://acuff.me

What’s Your Story?

By Patrick Showers, Associate Elementary Pastor
Woodland Hills Church

Being in a wheelchair, I’m used to kids asking me, “Why are you in that chair?” They see something unique and different, yet, instead of being afraid, their natural inquisitiveness takes charge and they seek to know my story. Some kids aren’t as bold to ask but instead, stop and stare the first time they see me rolling around. I enjoy watching the reactions of children. Parents, of course are horrified that their kids would stare or ask about my disability. I imagine most people want to know more about it but don’t know if it is ok to ask.

All of our lives are stories that are unfolding day by day. At different points in our lives we experience highs or lows, calm times, chaotic times, joy, and even pain. When we hear stories of people who’ve dealt with deep pain or suffering, we are moved with compassion. Conversely, others who overcome these situations and difficulties inspire us. Yet, each of our life stories is noteworthy, even if our life’s ups and downs are different from others.

Our lives come from God Himself. We were created in His image. We are His children and His story has been set forth from creation. His epic tale describes His selfless and passionate love for us and His desire to rescue everyone. Our stories are part of God’s story, and we often don’t realize it till we surrender our lives to Him. At that point, we step into the role He wrote into His story just for us. Whether our story is filled with suffering or not, when we embrace the role that was custom made for us, our lives are transformed. God empowers us and equips us to use our life experiences for our part in His epic tale.

Kids innately know that each of us has a story. Their curiosity is part of that built-in desire to connect with the stories of others. As adults, we also crave to know people through their stories. We are curious when someone is hurting, we watch TV shows and movies filled with inspiring tales, and some of us even read gossip magazines.

The problem with looking too much at other people’s stories is that we compare theirs to our own. We start to think our story isn’t that exciting or downplay our pain/suffering. We begin to doubt that our lifetime of experiences is worthwhile or worthy of being a part of God’s epic. Some people fall into denial about the pain they are suffering. Yet, regardless of the type of pain, it is still painful to us. Our suffering is uniquely ours. It can be debilitating. It can be life changing. It can be big or small. However, if it stops us from living out our role in God’s story, it needs to be brought before the healing power of God.

People often see my wheelchair and know that I’ve suffered a lot. Although my life -changing accident is obvious to all, it does not diminish the invisible pain and suffering of others. My story is uniquely my “own” and when I asked God for healing, he delivered my heart of a tremendous burden even though my body is still broken.

Each of us has a lifetime of experiences, good or bad, that shape our story. When we give our lives over to God, our story takes on a completely new thread as we step into our role in His tale. By walking with God, we find healing from pain, and He can shape our experiences into His storyline. Therefore, I encourage you to take your life to God, to seek healing where you need it, and to embrace the role of a lifetime within His unending epic! Share God’s word as a story, and let your kids know that God is seeking to have them step into a custom-made role within it.

A Lineage of Disciples

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By Teresa Sayles
Children’s Curriculum
Specialist
Woodland Hills Church

Have you ever had one of those moments where you are simply baffled that you didn’t see or connect something before? It seems so obvious, so “duh!” that you almost laugh at yourself. I had one of those the other night.

I was sitting with some folks in a meeting, and we were talking about discipleship and what it means to teach others about Jesus. It’s not a new topic in my life, and it’s one I’ve given a good deal of thought to over the years. Still, for some reason, I had never connected the dots as I did that night. Someone in the meeting was speaking about how the first disciples went out and, as Jesus commanded, taught others about Him. Those people, then, became disciples of Jesus, too, who then went out and taught others about Him. Over and over, the pattern repeated itself. In fact, the pattern is still going on today. All over the world, disciples of Jesus go out and tell others about Him, and those people, in becoming disciples, go out and do likewise.

And that’s when it hit me. Like one of those complicated genealogy graphs you make in elementary social studies, I saw myself connected to disciples who were connected to other disciples who were connected to other disciples…going all the way back to Jesus. The Son of God. “That’s crazy!” my brain screamed. Like a giant Jesus-version of the game “7 Degrees of Kevin Bacon,” I realized I’m directly connected over two thousand centuries of history to Jesus Himself. I’m not just a person who heard about Jesus and chose to follow Him. No, I’m a direct spiritual descendent of Jesus Christ! I am part of a grand and glorious “family history” that truly does link me to some of the most amazing people and, most of all, to Jesus. Paul is more than a guy who wrote some helpful letters in the Bible. He’s someone in my family who discipled others in my family and who is still discipling me through his words. Mary the mother of Jesus is not just a nice girl who was obedient to God. She’s an incredible matriarch in my family who shows us all what it looks like to follow our Father despite unknown circumstances.

Then came a second idea that blew me away: I, in being part of this lineage of disciples, have a part to play in keeping it strong and healthy and growing. I am to “carry on the family name” by bringing others into the family and by sharing the love of my Father and King with those I encounter. And those I disciple and teach about Jesus will, in turn, do the same. They, too, will be joined in this lineage of discipleship. I really do have a vital part to play in this family!

You have the incredible opportunity to help your kids not only know God but to show them how to disciple and teach others about Him. The way you model love and forgiveness shows them a glimpse of what God is like. The care you take in teaching them right from wrong helps them navigate a relationship with God and others that draws them into the Kingdom. And the way in which you speak to others about God teaches them how to do the same.

So, my brothers and sister, let’s get out there and bring more people into this incredible family of ours, this lineage of disciples.