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Take Your Faith Back to School

I love to listen to Ron Hutchcraft’s “A Word With You” via radio or podcasts. He has the amazing ability to take ordinary life, approved things I understand really well, buy more about and use them to help me understand the spiritual, something I hardly understand at all. He uses what I understand to help me understand what I don’t understand. Understand?  His illustrations illuminate my misunderstandings and clarify truth so I can understand it and apply it. That’s a lot of words to say illustrations illuminate understanding.

 

A great example is his Going Through the Motions. (http://www.hutchcraft.com/a-word-with-you/your-most-important-relationship/going-through-the-motions-6685) In this message he clarifies that a couple doesn’t leave the wedding rehearsal married. They walk down the isle. They say their vows, but they are only going through the motions. He uses this story that is easy to understand to illuminate the fact that too often we just go through the motions without sincerity or life change.

 

There are 3 main reasons I enjoy listening to Ron Hutchcraft

1. He has something to say.

2. He engages me with interesting antidotes. He is concise, without being curt. He paints a picture without being verbose.

3. I always have a “take away” from what he has to say.

 

Ron Hutchcraft is a master at illustrated for the purpose of understanding. The pursuit of understanding must always be the underlying purpose of any communication. Restated:

Understanding is important.

Ignorance is not bliss.

What you don’t know can and will hurt you.

Our brain dumps almost all of what we do not understand.

We can’t apply what we don’t understand.

 

Your goal as a teacher should always be to teach for understanding. That means illustrate it. But how?

1. Jesus used stories. As a matter of fact, the Bible says He never taught without one. That’s one of my favorite ways to teach.

2. Objects. Ezekiel is the object lesson book of the Bible. God used one illustration after another to talk to His people throughout Scripture.

3. Things they understand. Always move from what they do know to what they don’t know. Build a foundation. Then move from there.

4. Things they like.What do they talk about? What do they play with? What are they worried about? What music do they listen to? What is going on in their world, from their point of view, that affects them?

 

DSC01486Warning! I’m about to climb on my soap box and this may not be pretty!

It’s not an illustration if it doesn’t illustrate something! Now here’s the ranting part. I’ve seen so many folks purchase a really cool Magic Trick that they absolutely loved.  So they contrived a quick little blurb that was totally unrelated to anything so they could use the trick and make it fit the requirement for the sermon part of the lesson. But a forced little blurb is not the same thing as an illustration.

Two thoughts while I’m still on my soapbox.

1. If you want to use the trick it can be used as a fun treat for the class. It doesn’t have to be used in the sermon.

2. If you want it to illustrate a point spend the time to develop the illustration. I’ve spent weeks and months mulling over an idea for an illustration. Wayne’s ideas seem to pop from nowhere like popcorn in an air popper, but mine simmer like good soup in a crock pot on the kitchen counter.

 

My creative process.

                a. I jot my ideas down, usually in Evernote. That is the one app I use every single day.

b. I pray over the idea. Not long winded prayers, but I ask God to give me understanding.

c. I visit the idea in Scripture. Is this idea biblically sound? Is it something the class needs to know about? Will it accomplish what God wants me to talk about?

d. I review my notes and write down any new ideas without deleting the old ideas.

e. I brainstorm with someone. Wayne is my favorite brainstorming partner. He is a great listener. He gets excited with me, even though he never wears an excited face. And best of all, he is really smart!

f. If your first idea doesn’t work, then try something different. Nothing lost, unless you decide to use an idea that stinks. If you use a stinking idea, you’ll stink  and the trick will too, even if it’s executed successfully.

 

So all that being said, illustrate, Illustrate, ILLUSTRATE. Make it meaningful. Make it engaging. And never, ever forget make it clear and easy to understand.

I love to listen to Ron Hutchcraft’s “A Word With You” via radio or podcasts. He has the amazing ability to take ordinary life, pharm things I understand really well, ambulance and use them to help me understand the spiritual, something I hardly understand at all. He uses what I understand to help me understand what I don’t understand. Understand?  His illustrations illuminate my misunderstandings and clarify truth so I can understand it and apply it. That’s a lot of words to say illustrations illuminate understanding. 

 

A great example is his Going Through the Motions. (http://www.hutchcraft.com/a-word-with-you/your-most-important-relationship/going-through-the-motions-6685) In this message he clarifies that a couple doesn’t leave the wedding rehearsal married. They walk down the isle. They say their vows, but they are only going through the motions. He uses this story that is easy to understand to illuminate the fact that too often we just go through the motions without sincerity or life change.

 

There are 3 main reasons I enjoy listening to Ron Hutchcraft

     1. He has something to say.

     2. He engages me with interesting antidotes. He is concise, without being curt. He paints a picture without being verbose.

     3. I always have a “take away” from what he has to say.

 

Ron Hutchcraft is a master at illustrated for the purpose of understanding. The pursuit of understanding must always be the underlying purpose of any communication. Restated:

          Understanding is important.

          Ignorance is not bliss.

          What you don’t know can and will hurt you.

          Our brain dumps almost all of what we do not understand.

          We can’t apply what we don’t understand.

 

Your goal as a teacher should always be to teach for understanding. That means illustrate it. But how?

     1. Jesus used stories. As a matter of fact, the Bible says He never taught without one. That’s one of my favorite ways to teach.

     2. Objects. Ezekiel is the object lesson book of the Bible. God used one illustration after another to talk to His people throughout Scripture.

     3. Things they understand. Always move from what they do know to what they don’t know. Build a foundation. Then move from there.

     4. Things they like.What do they talk about? What do they play with? What are they worried about? What music do they listen to? What is going on in their world, from their point of view, that affects them?

 

DSC01486Warning! I’m about to climb on my soap box and this may not be pretty!

It’s not an illustration if it doesn’t illustrate something! Now here’s the ranting part. I’ve seen so many folks purchase a really cool Magic Trick that they absolutely loved.  So they contrived a quick little blurb that was totally unrelated to anything so they could use the trick and make it fit the requirement for the sermon part of the lesson. But a forced little blurb is not the same thing as an illustration.

Two thoughts while I’m still on my soapbox.

     1. If you want to use the trick it can be used as a fun treat for the class. It doesn’t have to be used in the sermon.

     2. If you want it to illustrate a point spend the time to develop the illustration. I’ve spent weeks and months mulling over an idea for an illustration. Wayne’s ideas seem to pop from nowhere like popcorn in an air popper, but mine simmer like good soup in a crock pot on the kitchen counter.

 

         My creative process.

                a. I jot my ideas down, usually in Evernote. That is the one app I use every single day.

                b. I pray over the idea. Not long winded prayers, but I ask God to give me understanding.

                c. I visit the idea in Scripture. Is this idea biblically sound? Is it something the class needs to know about? Will it accomplish what God wants me to talk about?

               d. I review my notes and write down any new ideas without deleting the old ideas.

               e. I brainstorm with someone. Wayne is my favorite brainstorming partner. He is a great listener. He gets excited with me, even though he never wears an excited face. And best of all, he is really smart!

               f. If your first idea doesn’t work, then try something different. Nothing lost, unless you decide to use an idea that stinks. If you use a stinking idea, you’ll stink  and the trick will too, even if it’s executed successfully.

 

So all that being said, illustrate, Illustrate, ILLUSTRATE. Make it meaningful. Make it engaging. And never, ever forget make it clear and easy to understand.

prodigal_DVDDreams Do Come True

 

Mark Harper is doing more than dreaming a dream. He is living it! As long as I have known him, which goes way back, sildenafil he has always been a person that thinks out of the box. He has spent years as a Children’s Pastor, writing curriculum, training children’s ministry leaders and equipping families. And for years he has written and produced short films to use as part of his teaching strategy. Media is important and a viable teaching tool in today’s culture. For years, Mark had a dream, a dream to make a full length movie.

 

 

Some people dream soap bubble dreams that drift through their minds and pop quickly. But not Pastor Mark. He put prayer and work into his dream. He developed strategy and pulled together a team of people that could help make his dream a reality. This week his dream became just that–a reality. This week, his full length movie was released. Prodigal, is a family movie for ages 12 and up. You can read

 

In a culture of fallen heroes and sleepy saints I am thrilled to hear success stories. I share Pastor Mark’s story for two reasons.

1. It’s time for you to dream again.

2. It time for you to invest in somebody else’s dream.

 

In my Leading Like Moses Series, I talk about the difference between copying someone’s dream and dreaming God’s dream for your life. Moses could have dreamed of being a Pharaoh, but God had a different dream for him!

 

Joseph’s brothers were jealous when they heard Joseph’s dream. Instead of supporting they tried to kill him. While most of us don’t go to the drastic measures that they did, still we watch people struggle instead of helping them carry the load.

  • Who do you know that has a big dream?
  • How can you help?
  • Then do it! Actually help them.

 

Sometimes that means rolling up your sleeves and putting some sweat equity into their dream. But it can be as simple as saying something encouraging. A pat on the shoulder, a genuine, “You can do it!” can go a long ways.

 

Sometimes, it’s as simple as purchasing a good DVD on the week it’s released. You can purchase it at Christian Books online for $12.99, (You’ll have to pay shipping) but I was excited to see it so I got mine at Family Christian for $14.99. I hope you’ll get it too.

 

Children’s Pastors are SPECIAL people! I’m constantly wowed by them. So proud of you Mark! Good job!

 

Links in this post:

Mark’s story

Leading Like Moses

prodigal_DVD

 

Mark Harper is doing more than dreaming a dream. He is living it! As long as I have known him, look which goes way back, generic he has always been a person that thinks out of the box. He has spent years as a Children’s Pastor, writing curriculum, training children’s ministry leaders and equipping families. And for years he has written and produced short films to use as part of his teaching strategy. Media is important and a viable teaching tool in today’s culture. For years, Mark had a dream, a dream to make a full length movie.

 

 

Some people dream soap bubble dreams that drift through their minds and pop quickly. But not Pastor Mark. He put prayer and work into his dream. He developed strategy and pulled together a team of people that could help make his dream a reality. This week his dream became just that–a reality. This week, his full length movie was released. Prodigal, is a family movie for ages 12 and up. You can read

 

In a culture of fallen heroes and sleepy saints I am thrilled to hear success stories. I share Pastor Mark’s story for two reasons.

1. It’s time for you to dream again.

2. It time for you to invest in somebody else’s dream.

 

In my Leading Like Moses Series, I talk about the difference between copying someone’s dream and dreaming God’s dream for your life. Moses could have dreamed of being a Pharaoh, but God had a different dream for him!

 

Joseph’s brothers were jealous when they heard Joseph’s dream. Instead of supporting they tried to kill him. While most of us don’t go to the drastic measures that they did, still we watch people struggle instead of helping them carry the load.

  • Who do you know that has a big dream?
  • How can you help?
  • Then do it! Actually help them.

 

Sometimes that means rolling up your sleeves and putting some sweat equity into their dream. But it can be as simple as saying something encouraging. A pat on the shoulder, a genuine, “You can do it!” can go a long ways.

 

Sometimes, it’s as simple as purchasing a good DVD on the week it’s released. You can purchase it at Christian Books online for $12.99, (You’ll have to pay shipping) but I was excited to see it so I got mine at Family Christian for $14.99. I hope you’ll get it too.

 

Children’s Pastors are SPECIAL people! I’m constantly wowed by them. So proud of you Mark! Good job!

 

Links in this post:

Mark’s story

Leading Like Moses

It was a dark foggy, about it moonless night in the mountains. The headlight beams of his Jeep bounced and jiggled as the tired traveler headed toward his log home. As soon as Jim topped the hill, salve he spotted a small rabbit in the extremities of his headlights as it shot across the road. Jim slowed his vehicle to be sure that he didn’t hit the rabbit.

Why did the rabbit cross the road?The bunny crossed at a blurring speed, physician reached the edge of the road, then leaped high into the air to cross the ditch that twisted and turned parallel to the road. But in the instant it took the rabbit to leap and while the rabbit was still mid-air, an owl swooped down and snatched the rabbit away in his talons. Not a pretty picture if you like rabbits.

What is that makes a rabbit or a squirrel, for that matter, want to dart across the road just in front of your car? It’s a mystery to me, but it has happened more times than I can count. You’re driving along, minding your own business, when an adorable little creature darts out of nowhere, directly into your path. It makes me ask the proverbial question, “Why did the rabbit cross the road?”  And Wayne answers, “Because he was chicken, silly!”

But look at this picture for a minute. The rabbit was safe beside the road. The grass was tall. The night was foggy. He was safe– until he moved. He was safe until he crossed the road. What drove him from his safe place to the owl’s dinner plate? The bright headlights must have frightened the small creature and drove him from his feeding place to a dinner plate. Fear drove the rabbit from a safe place into a dangerous place.

And what about you? Have you ever allowed fear or panic or stress to drive you from a safe place into a dangerous place? Panic will do that to you. Panic will make you do crazy things…crazy things. It will catapult you from a safe place into a disastrous place!

I’m not advocating moving into a fetal position or into a cowardice hiding place. That’s living in fear. If you’re living in fear, you’re already living in a disastrous place. And you need to take steps to get free from the fear that imprisons you.

God has a shelter for you. I’m not talking about a hide-a-way where the enemy cannot find you. His shelter is not a place of inactivity or immobility. It’s a place of strength, faith and confidence. It’s a bold place. A grace place. His shelter–His house–a place to live–God’s presence.

rest in the shadow of the AlmightyPsalms 91 describes it for us. Psalms 91:1 NLT Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty. 2 This I declare of the LORD: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I am trusting him. 3 For he will rescue you from every trap and protect you from the fatal plague. 4 He will shield you with his wings. He will shelter you with his feathers. His faithful promises are your armor and protection. 5 Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night, nor fear the dangers of the day, 6 nor dread the plague that stalks in darkness, nor the disaster that strikes at midday. 7Though a thousand fall at your side, though ten thousand are dying around you, these evils will not touch you. 8 But you will see it with your eyes; you will see how the wicked are punished. 9 If you make the LORD your refuge, if you make the Most High your shelter,

Did you see the description in verse 1; “rest in the shadow of the Almighty.” This rest goes beyond reclining or resting in the shade of a tree. It reflects a state of emotional rest and confidence. Stepping out because you trust Him.

It’s like a son following close in his father’s shadow. When Jason, my son was little, he would play in his dad’s shadow. The shadow was so big, his tiny steps could hardly keep up and stay inside the shadow. In order to stay in his dad’s shadow he had to stay with his dad. No rabbit trails. No running off. No stopping to play in the mud. He had to stay with his dad.

Walking in His shadow is restful, but you are confident in Him. It is living, breathing, and walking in His strength. Luke 17:28 KJV “For in him we live, and move, and have our being ;” It is leaning into Him. Learning from Him, listening to Him.

Exodus 14:10 describes a scene where the people of God start to panic. Now panic will make you do crazy things…crazy things. After spectacular miracles and amazing favoritism sent by the hand of God, the Jewish people stood on the banks of the Red Sea. No bridge. No boat. Not even a detour was possible, because they watched as Pharaoh’s army marched closer and closer. NLT  “As Pharaoh and his army approached, the people of Israel could see them in the distance, marching toward them. The people began to panic, and they cried out to the LORD for help” They cried out to God, but it you follow the next verse, their cries seem to be more panic filled complaints, because next they turned on Moses to vent their frustration and fear. Moses encouraged them with faith filled words. God had a plan.

And He still does. But finding the plan means embracing Him. Living and walking close enough to Him that you can hear His voice and follow where He is leading. Psalms 37:7 NLT “Be still in the presence of the LORD, and wait patiently for him to act. Don’t worry about evil people who prosper or fret about their wicked schemes.”

Don’t let fear drive you from your safe place. Build your faith and confidence about who He is by feeding your Spirit. Let me repeat the instructions from Psalms 37:

  • Be Still
  • Don’t Worry
  • Don’t Fret

mind arial, viagra approved helvetica, this web sans-serif; font-size: 10pt”>It was a dark foggy, moonless night in the mountains. The headlight beams of his Jeep bounced and jiggled as the tired traveler headed toward his log home. As soon as Jim topped the hill, he spotted a small rabbit in the extremities of his headlights as it shot across the road. Jim slowed his vehicle to be sure that he didn’t hit the rabbit.

The bunny crossed at a blurring speed, reached the edge of the road, then leaped high into the air to cross the ditch that twisted and turned parallel to the road. But in the instant it took the rabbit to leap and while the rabbit was still mid-air, an owl swooped down and snatched the rabbit away in his talons. Not a pretty picture if you like rabbits.

What is that makes a rabbit or a squirrel, for that matter, want to dart across the road just in front of your car? It’s a mystery to me, but it has happened more times than I can count. You’re driving along, minding your own business, when an adorable little creature darts out of nowhere, directly into your path. It makes me ask the proverbial question, “Why did the rabbit cross the road?”  And Wayne answers, “Because he was chicken, silly!”

But look at this picture for a minute. The rabbit was safe beside the road. The grass was tall. The night was foggy. He was safe– until he moved. He was safe until he crossed the road. What drove him from his safe place to the owl’s dinner plate? The bright headlights must have frightened the small creature and drove him from his feeding place to a dinner plate. Fear drove the rabbit from a safe place into a dangerous place.

And what about you? Have you ever allowed fear or panic or stress to drive you from a safe place into a dangerous place? Panic will do that to you. Panic will make you do crazy things…crazy things. It will catapult you from a safe place into a disastrous place!

I’m not advocating moving into a fetal position or into a cowardice hiding place. That’s living in fear. If you’re living in fear, you’re already living in a disastrous place. And you need to take steps to get free from the fear that imprisons you.

God has a shelter for you. I’m not talking about a hide-a-way where the enemy cannot find you. His shelter is not a place of inactivity or immobility. It’s a place of strength, faith and confidence. It’s a bold place. A grace place. His shelter–His house–a place to live–God’s presence.

rest in the shadow of the AlmightyPsalms 91 describes it for us. Psalms 91:1 NLT Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty. 2 This I declare of the LORD: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I am trusting him. 3 For he will rescue you from every trap and protect you from the fatal plague. 4 He will shield you with his wings. He will shelter you with his feathers. His faithful promises are your armor and protection. 5 Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night, nor fear the dangers of the day, 6 nor dread the plague that stalks in darkness, nor the disaster that strikes at midday. 7Though a thousand fall at your side, though ten thousand are dying around you, these evils will not touch you. 8 But you will see it with your eyes; you will see how the wicked are punished. 9 If you make the LORD your refuge, if you make the Most High your shelter,

Did you see the description in verse 1; “rest in the shadow of the Almighty.” This rest goes beyond reclining or resting in the shade of a tree. It reflects a state of emotional rest and confidence. Stepping out because you trust Him.

It’s like a son following close in his father’s shadow. When Jason, my son was little, he would play in his dad’s shadow. The shadow was so big, his tiny steps could hardly keep up and stay inside the shadow. In order to stay in his dad’s shadow he had to stay with his dad. No rabbit trails. No running off. No stopping to play in the mud. He had to stay with his dad.

Walking in His shadow is restful, but you are confident in Him. It is living, breathing, and walking in His strength. Luke 17:28 KJV “For in him we live, and move, and have our being ;” It is leaning into Him. Learning from Him, listening to Him.

Exodus 14:10 describes a scene where the people of God start to panic. Now panic will make you do crazy things…crazy things. After spectacular miracles and amazing favoritism sent by the hand of God, the Jewish people stood on the banks of the Red Sea. No bridge. No boat. Not even a detour was possible, because they watched as Pharaoh’s army marched closer and closer. NLT  “As Pharaoh and his army approached, the people of Israel could see them in the distance, marching toward them. The people began to panic, and they cried out to the LORD for help” They cried out to God, but it you follow the next verse, their cries seem to be more panic filled complaints, because next they turned on Moses to vent their frustration and fear. Moses encouraged them with faith filled words. God had a plan.

And He still does. But finding the plan means embracing Him. Living and walking close enough to Him that you can hear His voice and follow where He is leading. Psalms 37:7 NLT “Be still in the presence of the LORD, and wait patiently for him to act. Don’t worry about evil people who prosper or fret about their wicked schemes.”

Don’t let fear drive you from your safe place. Build your faith and confidence about who He is by feeding your Spirit. Let me repeat the instructions from Psalms 37:

  • Be Still
  • Don’t Worry
  • Don’t Fret

back_to_school_apple_rocking_md_clr

 

Use this as a devotion or a  quick skit that uses 3 actors. (I rewrote it for actors and the teacher to use in class.) Let the actors use their personalities to jazz it up.

 

Backpack? Check!

 

Notebooks? Check!

 

64 Pencils? Really? 64? Reluctantly…Check!

 

Faith? What is faith doing on my “Back to School Supply List” ?

 

So just why do I need to take “faith” to school with me?

 

Three reasons you need to take your faith with you.

1. Faith isn’t a church thing.

2. Faith is trusting God to be with you and help you in every area of your life—home, salve school and even church.

3. Faith connects us with God’s strength, visit ability and His plan for your life.

 

You Need Faith:

1. To remind you that Jesus is with you and wants to help you in school.

2. To remind you to ask Him for help.

3. To inspire you to do your best.

4. To remind you that this really is going to be a great year.

5. To share with your friends. Ron Hutchcraft always told his kids as they left for school each morning, check “Go MAD.” They knew he was saying, “Go Make A Difference.” You can make your school, your class a better place, if you take your faith in Christ with you!

 

I hope your school year is off to a great start. I pray that you’ll learn lots of new things. I remember what school was like and I remember there are challenges that come with it. So take your faith with you- don’t leave home without it.

—–

Faith Back to School Skit

 

If you choose to use this devotion as a skit you will need 3 kids or 3 puppets. Child number 1 has the list and is looking inside the backpack, the other 2 have the back pack on their backs ready for school.

 

Child 2: Would you hurry? I want to see if Zac is at the bus stop!

 

Child 3:  You know Zac is always late!

 

Child 1: My teacher said, I had to have all my supplies there no later than today, so let me check my list one more time. Backpack? Check! Notebooks? Check! 64 Pencils? Really? 64? (Reluctantly) OK! Faith?

 

Child 2: What is faith doing on your “Back to School Supply List” ?

 

Child 1: My mom put it there to remind me that taking my faith to school is just as important as taking all the supplies on my list.

 

Child 2: Really? Why do you need to take “faith” to school? Isn’t that a church thing?

 

Child 3: No. Faith is trusting God to be with you and help you in every area of your life—home and school. Church is just a place where we learn about faith.

 

Child 1: Faith turns on the faucet of God’s strength in my life. He helps me with school. When I take my faith to school, it reminds me to ask Him to help me.

 

Child 3: Taking my faith to school make me want to do my best.

 

Child 1: Taking my faith to school reminds me that this really is going to be a great year.

 

Child 2: And do I need to remind you, we’re going to be late if we don’t run! (All run off the stage.)

 

Teacher: I hope your school year is off to a great start. I pray that you’ll learn lots of new things. I remember what school was like and I remember there are challenges that come with it.  That’s why you need your faith, but there’s one more reason that they didn’t mention. Take your faith to school and share it. Ron Hutchcraft always told his kids as they left for school each morning, “Go MAD.” They knew he was saying, “Go Make A Difference.”  You can make your school, your class a better place, if you take your faith in Christ with you! So take your faith with you- don’t leave home without it.

 

 

Think Missional! Pass this on to someone you think may enjoy it or need it.

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