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Archive for December, 2009

The ministry I worked with in NYC had this thing we taught the kids called The Four Most Important Things. A sister ministry in the UK came up with symbols, put them on sweatshirts and other merch and the following was born:

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♥ – God loves me

X – I have sinned

✞ – Jesus died for me

? – I need to decide to live for God

I used to repeat/teach this mantra several times a day for several years. So when I see the symbols, it seems crystal clear what they mean.

However, I wore this 4 Things sweatshirt while hanging out with some friends in Philly and the shirt confused them. These very educated, very smart people were like,

“Love x’s Jesus = I don’t know/question mark?”

I thought it was really funny because here I was wearing the sweatshirt thinking I was witnessing to people, while others perceived it in an opposite way. It was a good reminder that we all have different perceptions and they count! I can’t just assume everyone is coming from the same place as I am.

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To  be honest, I’ve kind of shyed away from trying to convert people.  I guess I was burned out from years of evangelistic ministry, coupled with the realization that God saves people, not me.  And the organization I work with isn’t in your face preachy, which I appreciate, but the downside is that sometimes the “personal relationship with Jesus” thing gets pushed to the back of my mind.  I think about how the kids I work with need love, education and justice, but….Jesus?  Yeah, I guess they need him, too.

But, yesterday, as I was counseling a kid I found myself frustrated because I didn’t know how to help him.  He wasn’t having family problems, things were fine at school.  He was just kind of being a jerk and doing and saying inappropriate things.  When I got home I realized  that this kid needs Jesus.  He’s not being abused or neglected, but he needs a heart change.  Only having a relationship with Jesus will transform him to not want to make dirty jokes or be mean to people.  He needs a new way of thinking. I can mentor him and encourage, we can educate him, but the thing that will transform him is Jesus.

So, I guess I’m praying for salvation for this kid. Not because of fear of hell fire and brim stone, but because he needs to be transformed.

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I’m not a paranoid right winger, but I have to admit I haven’t heard a lot about “Christmas” this holiday season. I recently went to a teacher supply store to look for bulletin board decorations that said “Merry Christmas.” And you know what? I couldn’t find any! I thought that was kind of weird.

I definitely want the kids I work with to know that Jesus is the reason for the season. We started laying a foundation for Christmas back in October, as each week in Bible class we’ve been learning about Jesus – how he came to earth, what his life was like, etc. And we’re also doing the following activties:

1. Advent Calendar

Explaining to the kids every day what we’re waiting for, excepting, hoping for, celebrating – the arrival of Jesus on December 25th. (Yes, he’s arrived already, but you know what I mean.) I bought a Advent Calendar house at a thrift store and in each little door is a scripture and thought about Jesus and a surprise (piece of candy, money, balloon). The kids love it and remind me about it when I forget. 🙂 This is a simple, easy way to remind the kids every day that Jesus is the reason for Christmas.

2. Telling the Christmas Story Interactively

Our interns got a bunch of props together and told the Nativity scene while the kids acted it out. Afterward, they asked questions and clarified points. The 3rd and 4th graders seemed to really *get* it, too. It was a special time.

3. Writing about the Christmas Story

We found booklets on the internet with pictures of the Nativity scene that they can color and also write about what happened. It’s a good reminder, but also using literacy skills! And they can take it home and re-read it later.

4. Christmas Crafts – Building a Manger

I previously linked to a website where you can find a bunch of different ways to make a Nativity scene. It’s fun and Biblical!

It might seem like we’re overdosing on the Biblical narrative of Christmas, but I don’t think it’s possible. If you use a variety of ways to communicate the message, the kids won’t be bored.

At our Christmas party we’re still having a surprise visit from Santa Claus (even though I don’t think most of the kids believe in him anymore) because I think it’s important to keep imagination alive. It’s an important part of childhood! But, I want the kids to have a foundation and ingrain in them the reason Christmas started in the first place, you know?

If you have any ideas how to remind kids that Jesus is the reason for the season, leave a comment!

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I was searching the internet for ideas on how to make a Nativity scene for our afterschool program art class and came across a great website called Artists Helping Children. It has about a dozen different options of how to make a Nativity scene using different forms of art media. I wish I had discovered this website first – I would’ve saved a lot of time!

The finished result :

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