Jesus is #1 - Preschool April 2017

Happy Easter! It's time to celebrate that Jesus is alive! He went away, but He came back! Yay, Jesus!

This month, our kids will learn about how Jesus washed the disciples' feet, made his triumphal entry, died and rose again, built His Church, and gave us the Great Commission. Our goal is to tell our preschoolers the true story of how much God loves them and how He gave them His only Son. We want our preschoolers to know the basic truth that Jesus is alive and wants to be their friend forever!

Our memory verse for April is one of the most popular Bible verses of all time, John 3:16. It reads, "God loved the world so much that He gave His only Son." (GNT) We want our preschoolers to know how much God loves them through the story of Easter and how it can impact their lives. The bottom line for this month is to remember that Jesus is the best. 

It's going to be a great Easter! We can't wait to celebrate with you.

GOOOOOAL! - Humility - Elementary April 2017

Humility is a response to the character of God.

God has no beginning and no end. God is the creator and sustainer of the universe. He deserves all of our worship and praise for what He has done and continues to do in our life.

On the other hand, we are humans created by God. And while we are the crowns of God's creation, we are nothing without our Creator God. 

Yet so often, we act like we are God. We allow our pride to take over and forget that any of our strengths  or accomplishments would not exist without God. The only proper response in light of God's greatness is to respond with humility in our interactions with the people around us.

Jesus is the ultimate example of humility.

Jesus is the Son of God. And in the beginning, Jesus was part of creating the heavens and the earth. As the Son of God, there is nothing in Heaven of on the earth that isn't under Jesus' command. Yet Jesus chose to become one of us. He was born as a baby and walked among us. He developed calloused hands as He worked in a carpenter's shop. The dirt of the road caked His feet as He traveled to show love to others. Jesus willingly left the majesty and glory of Heaven to laugh and cry as He was fully human. 

Jesus' ultimate act of humility on Earth was sacrificial death. He could have called down an angel army to protect him, but instead allowed Himself to be wrongly accused and arrested. He could have been worshiped with a gold crown and royal robes, but instead wore a crown of thorns. Jesus deserved praise and adoration, but sacrificed Himself for us. 

We live in a world that's all about putting ourselves first. Jesus lived in a world like that, too. He could have looked out for Himself, called 10,000 angels to come and rescue Him. But He didn't. Out of his love for us, He chose the humble route and put us first. It cost Him everything.

Putting others first will cost you something: your time or money. Maybe it will cost you some pride. But when we choose to follow Jesus with our lives, believing that His death an resurrection made it possible for us to be right with God, the least we can do is put others first even if it's a bit uncomfortable and cost us something. 

We think it's important, especially at Easter, for us to help our kids and families discover more about humility - putting others first by giving up what you think you deserve. 

Our memory verse for April comes from Philippians 2:3. It reads, "Don't do anything only to get ahead. Don't do it because you're proud. Instead, be humble. Value others more than yourself." (NIrV)

The verse is part of a passage that describes Jesus' humility. Jesus left everything He deserved to humble himself to save us. As we respond to Jesus' love, we can show humility as we love on those around us. 

As we celebrate Jesus' life, death, and resurrection this Easter season, we'll be taking a closer look at the way humility shows up throughout the end of Jesus' time on Earth.

Build It - Preschool March 2017

This month, we're working to build into kids a love for others. Imagine with me, for a moment, a world filled with men and women who love others the way Jesus loves us. That's what we want for our preschoolers. 

We'll begin with the story of the Good Samaritan. He was a great example of how to love everyone. Jesus was always helping people - no matter who they were - and that's what the Good Samaritan did too. We want our preschoolers to know that they can love others by helping.

After we talk about helping, we'll move on to sharing. We'll tell the story of the guy who built bigger barns for his grain, instead of sharing with people who needed food. Our preschoolers are going to learn that sharing is the way to go, when you have overflow!

Then, we'll talk about how we can still love others by sharing, even when we have a little. In fact, it's an even bigger expression of love when we share out of our little, like the widow who shared two small coins. 

We'll wrap up the month with the prodigal son where we'll see that we can love, no matter what, thanks to forgiveness. Just like Jesus loves us, even when we do something wrong, we can love others, even when they do something wrong. 

It's going to be an awesome month of building with our preschoolers. We'll be building into kids who can then proclaim, "I can love everyone!"

Fix It Up - Forgiveness - Elementary March 2017

Forgiveness is a reflection of the character of God.

Throughout Scripture, we are reminded about God's grace and forgiveness.
God makes us white as snow (Isaiah 1:18)
God's mercies are new every morning (Lamentations 3:22-23)
God is faithful and just to forgive our sins (1 John 1:19)

When our relationship with God was broken beyond repair, God offered His only Son as the way to forgive us and restore the broken relationship.

Since we are created in God's image, we have the ability to offer forgiveness when people in our lives hurt us. God's love makes it possible for us to forgive others and work towards fixing our own relationships that break down from time to time.

Jesus made it possible for us to have God's forgiveness.

God showed us just how much He cares about forgiveness when He made the ultimate sacrifice and sent Jesus to pay the price for our sin. While sin separates us from God, He offers grace and forgiveness as a gift for us to receive. We have been forgiven of so much, it's only right that we turn to those in our lives and offer forgiveness to them in return.

That's why we think it's important for us to help our kids and families discover more about Forgiveness - deciding that someone who has wronged you doesn't have to pay.

Our Memory Verse for March comes from Colossians 3:13.

In Colossians 3:13, we read, "Put up with one another. Forgive one another if you are holding something against someone. Forgive, just as the Lord forgave you." (NIrV)

This verse, from Paul's letter to the church at Colossi, reminds us not only that God forgave our sins, but also that we should forgive others instead of holding grudges against one another. We pray that throughout March, families will let go of what they're holding against each other and choose to forgive. We think that this could be a powerful month in the lives of kids and families in our churches. 

We will spend the month of March taking a closer look at the way forgiveness shows up throughout a few of the parables Jesus told his followers.

Behind the Scenes - Elementary February 2017

Love is a reflection of the character of God.

God is love. As we read through God's One Big Story in the Bible, we see an epic love story unfold that started in a garden with a perfect relationship between God and His Creation. When Adam and Eve sinned and broke that relationship, God didn't give up on creation. His love for us drove Him to make the ultimate sacrifice: sending His one and only Son, Jesus, to pay the ultimate price to make it possible for us to be with God forever.

Because we are created in God's image, we have the capacity to love. Every time we choose to treat others the way we want to be treated, we show others a glimpse into the perfect love God has for each and every one of us.

Jesus is the ultimate example of love.

When God sent Jesus to earth, Jesus showed us exactly what it means to love. Jesus prioritized love above everything else. When the Pharisees asked Jesus about he greatest commandment, He reached into the 600+ laws of the Old Testament and took a law that existed about your neighbor and He linked it to a loving God. Jesus said, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul. Love Him with all your mind...and Love your neighbor as yourself (Mark 12:30-31 NIrV)." Our relationship with Jesus changes how we love God, love others, and even love ourselves. Love, above all else, was what Jesus stressed the most.

That's why we think it's important for us to help our kids discover more about Love - choosing to treat others the way you want to be treated. 

Our memory verse for February comes from 1 John 4:10.

In 1 John 4:10, we read, "Here is what love is. It's not that we love God. It is that he loved us and sent his Son to give his life to pay for our sins. (NIrV)."

We want our kids to learn a verse that gives them the essence of why love is important. Love isn't just something we demonstrate because it's a good thing to do. Love doesn't even start with us. We love because God loves us. Love is an essential part of who God is and how God interacts with the world. We love others because of the capacity He put within us to love. His love drove Him to sacrifice His only Son on our behalf to make the relationship between us right again.

We will spend the month of February taking a closer look at the way love shows up throughout the Gospels in how Jesus interacts with them. 

SO BIG! - Preschool February 2017

The month of candy hearts and oversized stuffed bears has arrived! It's the month we set aside each year to celebrate our love for those we hold near and dear. And what says ,"I love you" better than a box of chocolates or cards that play music when you open them?

As thoughtful as these things are, Jesus has a few different ways of showing us how much He loves us. Jesus shows His love for us by simply wanting to spend time with us. Jesus wants us to come to Him - anytime, anywhere - just come! Jesus shows He loves us by helping us. And, Jesus loves us no matter what.

Jesus love is SO BIG! That's what we want our preschoolers to walk away knowing this year. Jesus loves them with a love that is bigger than they can imagine!

Brain Games - Knowledge - Elementary School January 2017

Knowledge is a response to the character of God. 

When kids turn about four years old, they start asking, "Why?" It's like suddenly a switch flips and they being to string together their questions in an attempt to understand everything around them. And this continues throughout life. Watch and eight year old for very long and you can become convinced that everyone is wired with a natural curiosity to discover what we don't know and go where we haven't been. 

God designed people in such a unique way - different from the rest of creation - to pursue finding the answers to life's hidden secrets. The very fact that we naturally pursue knowledge is proof that there is a God. It's actually genius that God would make us in such a way that we are always discovering, wondering, exploring, innovating, improving, and solving. He wants us to pursue knowing more, because He wants us to know Him more. 

The most important thing you can do for young kids is to invite them into the story about a really big God. It's a story that will always be bigger than they can explain or imagine, but God invites them to spend a lifetime discovering who He is and how He loves them.

Jesus helps us know God better.

If you want to know who God is and how God loves, look to Jesus. When Jesus stepped foot onto the planet, God was once and for all with us. John writes this about Jesus, The Word became a human being. He made his home with us. We have seen his glory. It is the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father. And the Word was full of grace and truth (John 1:14 NIrV). As we dig deeper into the story of Jesus, we discover more about how God desires a relationship with us and incites to help him spread the message of Jesus throughout the world. To do that, we need to know God through Jesus. 

That's why we think it's important for us to help our kids and families discover more about knowledge - discovering something new so you can be better at whatever you do. We want kids to know that God is read, God made them and all things. We hope they leave this month believing that when they discover something new about God, they are learning the best way to win at life.

Our Memory Verse for January comes from Psalm 119:105.

In Psalm 119:105, we read, Your word is like a lamp that shows me the way. It is like a light that guides me (NIrV). When we dig into God's word, we start to know how God wants us to live. God's word acts like a lamp that shows us the next steps to take on our journey through life. God's word points the way towards a growing relationship with Jesus. 

We will spend the month of January taking a closer look at the way knowledge shows up throughout the gospels.

All the Time - Preschool January 2017

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HAPPY NEW YEAR! I hope you had a fantastic Christmas season filled with joy and laughter and love. Now that our preschool friends have heard that Jesus was born, it's time for them to learn that He is with them ALL THE TIME and He is all they need. 

Throughout the month, our children will hear how Jesus was there for people in the past. He was there when the blind man needed him. He was there when a man lowered from the roof by his friends on a mat needed Him. He was there to heal the deaf man and the lepers who needed Him. He was there to calm the storm when the disciples needed Him. 

Just like when He was there when all these people needed Him in the past, He will be there when we need Him in the future. That's what we want to plant in the hearts of our preschoolers this month. Jesus is all we need, and He's with us ALL THE TIME!

Countdown to Christmas - Preschool December 2016

MERRY CHRISTMAS! I just love December! The sights, the sounds the smells (my favorite) - all these things fill the days as we count down to the MOST important day of December, the day we celebrate Jesus.

That's the plan for our preschoolers this month. We're going to count down to Christmas with them as they learn the different parts of the Christmas story. First, they will hear how the angel came to tell Mary that she was going to have a special baby. The next week, Mary ad Joseph will travel to Bethlehem, and a special baby is born! During week three, the children will pretend they are shepherds as they hear how to angels came to tell the shepherds in the field that Baby Jesus had been born.

All month long, join us as we celebrate Jesus' birth!

As a friendly reminder, there will be no children's programming on Sunday, December 25.

Put a Bow On It - Joy - Elementary December 2016

Joy is a response to the character of God. 

When God created the world, He made it to be a place of peace and contentment. In the Magnificent Paradise, God provided fruit trees that were pleasing to the eye and good to eat. And He personally walked with His creation! But when sin entered the world, so did greed and jealousy. As circumstances changed and life presented more challenges, people found it harder and harder to be happy. However, even now in this broken world, God wants us to have joy.

Even though we try to find joy through our stuff, or our vacations, or our relationships, joy isn't dependent upon any of those things. Joy is about being content beyond our circumstances. We can have joy when we recognize that God's plan is greater than our own. Joy is a response to our trust in God.

Jesus is the reason we find joy.

God sent His only son as a baby, born in humble circumstances. Jesus wasn't what anyone expected, but this was how God wanted to rescue the world. God made good on the promise He made hundreds of years before. This December, we pray that through the story of Jesus, kids realize that God loved them so much that He sent His Son to be here on earth. The story of Christmas can remind us through every season, regardless of our situation, there's a reason to celebrate what it means to have a relationship with God.

That's why it's important for us to help our kids and families discover more about joy - finding a way to be happy even when things don't go your way.

Our Memory Verse for December comes from Philippians 4:4. When Paul wrote this letter to the church at Philippi, he wasn't saying to have joy only when it's easy. Paul was writing from prison and learned the secret of having joy no matter what his circumstances looked like. Paul's faith in God made him strong and gave him the ability to find joy, even in the difficult times.

In Philippians 4:4, we read, Always be joyful because you belong to the Lord. I will say it again. Be joyful! (NIrV) As kids memorize this verse, we hope they remember that their joy is not tied to their circumstances. Instead, we find joy when we realized that we belong to God. When we trust God no matter what, we can find joy knowing that whatever happens He is in control.

We will spend the month of December taking a closer look at the way joy shows up throughout the Christmas story.

As a friendly reminder, there will be no children's programming on Sunday, December 25.