Crossroads: God Is Our Refuge

Last week our devotion was on times when it seems like God isn’t there. This week’s psalm is a reminder to us that God is always there and that God is our refuge.

Crossroads: Where is God?

When I was a child, bad thunderstorms used to terrify me. The rain was okay, but I was very afraid of the thunder and the lightning. Thunderstorms that happened at night were always the worst. There was no way I could sleep during them.

Crossroads: Small

Has nature ever just wowed you? Have you ever felt small when looking at the ocean or the stars? Talk about a time when you felt awed by something in nature.

Flame: The Calling of Levi with Colored Cards

We’re always trying different ways to tell stories in visual ways, so here is what we tried in our scaled-down summer group (3-11 years old). We told the story of Jesus calling Levi (Luke 5:27-32) using colored pieces of paper to represent the characters.

Crossroads: Following God

I loved to talk when I was a kid. I talked all the time. And at school, there are times when you’re supposed to be quiet. But sometimes I couldn’t help myself and I talked to the people around me. And of course, I got in trouble. I got I’s (needs Improvement) and sometimes U’s (for Unsatisfactory) on my report card for talking.

Live the Stories: Noah’s Ark

Remind the children of how Adam and Eve made a mistake in last week’s story. That mistake caused the world to be an unhappy place where people didn’t treat God or each other the right way. Begin by asking the children if they know what an ark is. They may respond by stating that an ark is a boat or something that Noah built.

Strangers: A Meditation for Teachers

They walk, run, tumble, and drag into your room on the first day of school—complete strangers. At the beginning of the year they all seem to look alike.

Flame: Esther’s Strengthened Heart

Esther showed great love for her people and for her uncle Mordecai, but she also showed that she had a great deal of courage in her heart. Ask the children to think about times when they have needed to show love to others or needed to be brave so they could help others.

Crossroads: The Friend in the Night

My favorite word as a child was “why”. I know my mother got tired of me asking “Why?” all the time. I was a very curious child. In fact, as a small child, my mother had a hard time getting me to sleep. She said it seemed as if I always wanted to observe the world, to know what was going on.

Crossroads: Forgiving Others

When I was a teenager, my youth group planned a summer mission trip to Myrtle Beach. One of my best friends, John, was in our youth group, and we were both excited about the upcoming mission trip. John and I had roomed together on every church trip. We were great friends and enjoyed spending time together. As I arrived at the church to leave for the mission trip, I learned that John had decided to room with someone else.

Crossroads: Roots

Today’s Scripture is all about our roots growing in God’s love. How do you feel about your life’s roots? Have they grown deep in God’s love?

Flame: Creation Story Circles

I get really excited by visual ways of telling stories, so I thought I’d make some for us to use. I chose to use cork and paper as we are trying to get away from plastic, if possible!

Crossroads: Staying Connected

I have always loved wisteria. I know that it’s a parasite, but it has always been beautiful to me. One of my favorite parts of driving to my grandparents’ house as a kid was driving past the beautiful wisteria growing in a patch of trees.

Crossroads: Don’t Be Afraid

The disciples were afraid. Jesus had been arrested and killed because of who he was. And the disciples were afraid that they, too, would be arrested and killed because they followed Jesus. So they hid, locking the doors and hoping people would forget about them.

Flame: Palm Sunday Spinner

We are getting into Easter planning mode at the moment and needed something a bit different for Palm Sunday. This is a great activity because somehow the hosanna appears on the palm leaf. The children love watching the trick of the eye happen!

Flame: Pipe Cleaner Intercessions

I love the versatility of pipe cleaners and children seem to feel the same! They are great for playing with and they are also great for praying with.

Crossroads: Ash Wednesday

I always feel the weight of the ashes on my forehead on Ash Wednesday. It wasn’t until I went to a Catholic middle school that I began participating in Ash Wednesday services. From that first Ash Wednesday service until now, it never ceases to amaze me how much I feel those ashes.

Flame: Sharing God’s Love

The rainbow is a great symbol for Christians of God’s love and promise to us. It’s also the symbol of new beginnings, a key message of Christianity. This activity helps children to think about their own ability to share God’s love with others and to pray for those who don’t yet know that love.

Crossroads: Love Your Enemy

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for an eye, and tooth for tooth” (Matthew 5:38). Many of us live our lives in this way. All you have to do is watch the news to see people responding in this way. For example, someone is attacked and their country responds with war.

Crossroads: I Am Fearfully and Wonderfully Made

I didn’t always feel pretty as a teenager. I went through the usual gawky teen phase, with braces and acne and glasses. There were times when I wished that I looked like someone else.

Crossroads: The Majesty of God

Talk about where you see/feel the majesty of God. Maybe for you it’s when you’re staring at the ocean and you realize how amazing God is. Or maybe it’s looking out over the mountains. Or perhaps you felt the majesty of God when your children were born. Or maybe it’s when you look up at the skies and see all of the stars.

Unless You Come unto Me as These

This one is going to be a problem for us. You know that most adults have forgotten that they were children once upon a time. In fact, how long has it been since most adults have included “once upon a time” in any sentence?

Crossroads: Easy vs. Difficult

There have been many times that I have put off doing something because I either thought it was going to take a while or I thought it would be hard to do. For example, I tend to put off washing pots and pans after I cook because I think it’s going to take forever.

Crossroads: I Know Whom I Have Believed

When we ask Jesus to be our friend forever, when we tell God that we know that Jesus died for us and that we want to follow God, we are committing our lives to God. We are saying that God knows better than we do and that we will listen to God and follow what God tells us to do. We will act like Christ by following God.

Flame: Sensory Prayer Path

I was inspired by a photo I saw on Pinterest recently of a sensory pathway and it got me thinking about how we could use the idea to help children to connect with God.

Crossroads: Do Not Fear

It has been fifteen years since September 11, 2001. For many of us, that was the day that the world changed. It seems like we lost something that day: a feeling of safety and that everything would be fine.

Crossroads: Wonderfully Made

As a teenager, I didn’t always feel pretty or worthwhile. There were many times when I doubted myself, particularly as a middle schooler. I had braces and I had to get glasses in middle school, and it was an awkward time.

Crossroads: Entertaining Strangers

Have you ever helped someone you didn’t know? Or has someone come into your life at just the right time and it felt like they were sent from God? Pick one of these times to talk about with your family.

Crossroads: Doing What’s Right

Sometimes we lose sight of our purpose. We get so caught up in what we’re supposed to do and in the rules that we forget how much God helped people and how He calls us to help others.

Crossroads: By Faith

Tell your family’s story of faith. If your ancestors were immigrants, your family faith story may begin with something like “by faith my great-great-great grandparents left the home and land they knew and came to America in search of a better life.”

Crossroads: Depending on God

These days, it seems like every time you turn on the TV, there’s news that something bad has happened. And now, with the presidential election only a few months away, it seems like everybody thinks they have that one solution that will keep us safe.

Flame: Zacchaeus Tree-building Challenge

If you want to offer an absorbing and challenging way for children to explore the story of Zacchaeus, then look no further. This is a great way to help them think about Zacchaeus’s determination to see Jesus because it will take some determination to complete the task!

Crossroads: Greed

As an only child for seven years, there have been times in my life when I wasn’t great at sharing. Even now, I want to make sure someone is going to take really good care of my stuff before I let them borrow anything.

A View from the Pew: Less Summer to Do Summer Ministry

If you have school-aged children in your life, it’s no secret that summer isn’t what it used to be. Here are five tips to ease the pressure and help your children’s spiritual formation remain at the top of your summer priority list.

Crossroads: Being Busy

I like to be busy. If I’m watching TV or even a movie, I want to also being doing something else so that I don’t feel like I’m wasting time. So when I watch a movie or TV show at home, I also find myself looking at Facebook, my email, or even playing an online game like Candy Crush.

Crossroads: The Good Samaritan

As a young teenager, I went with my youth group to a soup kitchen one Saturday morning to feed the homeless. Several of my friends were going, and I wanted to have fun with my friends.

Connections 07.17.2016: “Can I Get in Line?”

Andrew, my five-year-old nephew, is a great source of joy in our family. Born at 29 weeks, weighing about 2.5 pounds, he lived in the neonatal intensive care unit of the hospital for 65 days before my brother Dusty and his wife Christy were able to bring him home.

Flame: Memory Verses with Duplo Blocks

As part of our lesson looking at endurance (a link to athletes preparing for the Olympics), we used Duplo blocks and labels to put together the memory verse we were looking at.

Crossroads: Our Guide

We recently finished Everest VBS. As the leader of Base Camp Sing and Play as well as Summit Celebration, I was known as a Sherpa. A Sherpa is an expert guide on Mount Everest whose job it is to guide climbers safely up and back down Everest.

Crossroads: Giving

One of my favorite stories of giving comes from one of the children at church. At six years old, she received a dollar from the tooth fairy for losing a tooth. But she didn’t use that money to buy something for herself.

Crossroads: The Storms of Life

I was always terrified of storms as a child. The thunder scared me the most, and my mom could never convince me that the thunder couldn’t hurt me.

Crossroads: Waiting

Have you ever had to wait for something that you were sure was going to happen? You wait with nervous anticipation, excited and scared at the same time. I went to Paris when I was 16.

Crossroads: Friends

I was at school when I got the call that she was gone, and a friend of mine found me crying in the hallway. He comforted me and then we went our separate ways.

Crossroads: Holy, Holy, Holy

God is different from everything else in our universe. He is the Creator, and the only One who is holy. I am most reminded of God’s holiness during communion and during Holy week.

Crossroads: The Presence of the Holy Spirit

Several years ago on a weekend retreat, I gathered with a group of teenagers in a dimly lit room to share an Agape Love Feast. Earlier, we had set up the room with candles, a plate of bread, and a large cup of grape juice.

Connections 05.22.2016: Like a Child

My older daughter, Samantha, is eleven years old. Though reserved and quiet around new people, she is at least polite, and she becomes more animated when she gets to know them better. As a baby, though, her encounters with new people went a little differently.

Crossroads: Celebrate!

I love birthdays. I love celebrating my birthday and celebrating other people’s as well. There’s something about a birthday. One of my favorite birthday celebrations actually took place at camp.

Crossroads: Ascension

New chapters are exciting, but also a bit scary. Moving to college was an important step for me, and it was part of being able to do things on my own. The disciples face a new chapter of their own that begins in the book of Acts.