October Preview Pack

Here’s a look ahead to what we’ll be learning in Heroes Gate in the month of October:

October 4: Toddlers through 4th graders will journey with Moses and the Israelites as God frees them from slavery and leads them toward the Promised Land (Exodus 1-14, 19:1-20:21; 32:1-34:35). Club 56 kids will discuss the topic: How does a person become a great leader?

October 11: Toddlers through 4th graders will continue along with the Israelites as they explore the Promised Land and learn being a good leader starts with being a good follower (Numbers 13-14; Deuteronomy 1:19-46). Club 56 kids will discuss the topic: What’s the secret to being influential?

October 18: Toddlers through 4th graders will watch as young Samuel answer God’s call by listening for God’s voice (1 Samuel 1:1-28; 3:1-21). Club 56 kids will discuss the topic: What does creativity have to do with God?

October 25: Toddlers through 4th graders will be celebrate that loves does what’s unexpected as they hear the story of David and Mephibosheth (2 Samuel 9 with references to 1 Samuel 9-10, 15-20, 24, 26, 31). Club 56 kids will discuss the topic: How is creativity a part of faith?

Radiate

By Patrick Showers, Associate Elementary Pastor

Woodland Hills Church

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We’ve often heard God’s Word described as a story: A tale of love, rebellion, redemption, and restoration.  The setting began in a perfect place, the Garden of Eden, where the first humans walked in harmony with the Creator.  Yet, like all stories, there came conflict that changed everything and introduced suffering.  Many people focus on the suffering but overlook the loss of being intimately connected to the Creator.  Unlike the stories we read in books, the Author of our world, our story, doesn’t control or direct all the actions of the characters or even the plot twists, but He does influence, guide, encourage, and even intervene.  Like other authors, God writes with an ending in mind, and throughout this grand story, He has been giving readers a glimpse of a heroic intervention and a grand finale that will result in good winning and evil being defeated.

This epic is a grand tale, but, unlike other stories, this one is still being written and characters are continuously being added.  At birth, each person has a part in God’s story.  Their journey ties into the entire epic.  Their failures, their triumphs, their joys, and their sorrows are intricately woven, especially when a person embraces God’s lifeline of redemption and grace through Jesus.   Some don’t realize their role in His story, while others respond to His light and step valiantly into their role.

Our stories may vary from person to person, but we all have a few things in common.  We’ve all suffered, we’ve all failed, and we’ve embraced the life-changing grace given us through the actions of sacrificial love by Jesus.

Jesus is often described as the light of this world.  In God’s story, we see that Jesus shines brightly amongst people because His actions and words are so profound.  He is a living example of agape love, given without conditions, seeking the best for others, willing to sacrifice His own needs and desires, and life-giving.  He is full of God’s wisdom, and His words continuously remind us of who God is and who we are.   That is light as described in the Bible, which results in loving like Jesus through actions and life-giving words, especially as we hold out God’s truth, His Story.

As we embrace grace and follow in the steps of Jesus, we, too, are given the light and equipped through the Holy Spirit.  We are exhorted to not hide this light, but to, instead, shine brightly so all might see (Matthew 5:16).  Ephesians 5 gives us a more direct way to shine by encouraging us to “Imitate Christ, in everything you do…Live a life of love.”   Chapter 5 goes on to say, “…you have light from the Lord. So, live as people of the light. For this light within you produces only what is good, right, and true.”    Luke 11:36 sums this up the best by saying, “If you are filled with the light, with no dark corners, then your whole life will be radiant, as though a floodlight were filling you with light.”

We are more than a character in God’s story.  We are an extension of His story.  We are His ambassadors and witnesses, His living characters, and His children who show people the way into God’s story of grace, love, and redemption.  Our story is filled with a past, present, and future.  Our past shaped us, and our future in God’s eternal kingdom is set, but our present gives us the opportunity to ensure this God-given light is shining brightly in all aspects of our lives.  Our present is a key chapter in God’s story.  Our shining light guides others into this same epic to share in life with God now and in the future.

Your light shines in your role as a parent, a spouse, a friend, a coworker, and even as a neighbor.  Whether you are smiling at a child, reading a story, changing a diaper, or chatting, you are shining.  Ephesians 5 ends with the best advice of all: “make the most of every opportunity.”  What if we committed to loving others like Christ to the best we can, inviting the Holy Spirit to help? Would we radiate like a floodlight? Look for opportunities to set your plans aside, turn off any preset conditions tied to your love, and don’t worry if your dinner is getting cold, but instead be available, share a loving word, a loving touch, and a listening ear. It would be intense, it would be challenging, you may even fail sometimes, but it would be worth it.  By sharing our story and love of Christ, we can share a legacy that leads others out of the darkness into the light.

Cinderella Movie Event

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Join us THIS Friday, September 25th, in watching this summer’s live-action fairytale hit: Cinderella!  We’ll have free popcorn and lemonade, and you’re welcome to bring a blanket or chair, a friend, and even a costume to wear of your favorite character from the story!  The movie starts at 6:30, but come early to enjoy trivia, a costume parade, and the opportunity to have your picture taken with some of the characters!

God’s Big Story: The New Testament

By Teresa Sayles, Children’s Curriculum Specialist

Woodland Hills Church

At the end of the Old Testament, we find the Israelites’ world a very uncertain place.   Their ancestors have walked away from God and, though He still loves them and has sent them numerous warnings through His prophets, they continue to break off their relationship with Him. His love for them has not changed, nor has His plan to use them to save world altered, but He must allow the consequences of their breaking the relationship play out in order to restore what was broken. And so mighty empires attack and invade the Promised Land, killing and kidnapping its people and ruining its lands and cities. In exile, many of the Israelites, now called Jews, do turn back to God, and healing begins to take place. Some are even allowed to return from their captivity to their homelands to begin rebuilding. But they know things are not the same even there. They come under a series of foreign rulers, some of whom allow the Jewish people to worship God and others who are less kind. And so begins some 400 years in which no prophet from God appears to guide the people. There is, essentially, silence on His end.

But His silence does not mean He isn’t still with them and working. It’s quite the opposite. Even in the midst of their suffering under foreign rule, God is preparing their redemption. He is preparing to send them the Messiah, the One He has promised will save them. The people anxiously await this Savior, their hunger for his arrival heightened as the worst power of all takes charge of their lands: The Roman Empire. They anticipate a Messiah who will enter their world as a victorious and militaristic king, one who will come with the might and power to rid their lands of the Romans and all other Gentiles and bring judgment and justice to their world.

Little did do they suspect that the Messiah, God’s Son, will arrive in the form of a tiny, poor child in the little-regarded town of Bethlehem. God’s Son, Jesus, grows and quickly proves He is both the Messiah they have been waiting for and not the Messiah they’ve been waiting for. He has, indeed, come to redeem and save them, as He shows through His ministry in which the blind are given their sight, the lame walk, and the downcast and marginalized are shown life-giving love. But He is not the Messiah they have been waiting for as He refuses to use violence or usurp power in order to draw people to God. Rather, He is a peacemaker and one who puts relationships above rules. He seeks to bring about God’s Kingdom not through might but through love. Many, though astounded by this change in perspective, are drawn to Him. They celebrate, follow, and worship Him. Others hear His teachings and see His popularity, and it darkens their already dark hearts. They grow jealous of His popularity even as they balk at His teachings which seem to verge on blasphemy. And so they begin to plot against Him.

Their schemes play out, and Jesus is arrested and tried. Never does He lift a hand of violence or a harsh word. He accepts what is being done to Him because He knows God shall use His death to redeem all humanity, even those who now persecute, beat, and kill Him. On the Cross, Jesus finishes the work He came to earth to do: To bring God’s loving Kingdom to earth through His teachings and interactions and to put Himself in the place of all sinful humanity so that their broken relationship with God might be redeemed and saved forever.

Three days later, Jesus’ followers are still mourning for Him even as they fear for their lives. They wait together in confusion. How could this have happened? They were certain Jesus was the Messiah – So how was it that He died? But then incredible news reaches them: Jesus is alive! Before long, they meet the risen Christ and learn that His death and resurrection mean eternal life for all who follow Him. It’s a message of love and joy that He instructs them to share with anyone and everyone. It’s a message of love and joy for you and for me. It’s truly good news.