Crossroads: Peace

Peace is a funny thing. We pray for peace in a world full of violence. We pray for peace in times of trouble. We pray for peace in times of stress. We pray for peace in times of worry. And at first glance, we think that peace means that our situation changes. The world puts down its weapons. Trouble ceases. Stress disappears.

Crossroads: Thanksgiving

This is a time when families gather together around a table filled with food, and remember all of the things for which they are thankful. Some years it’s easy to remember the blessings you’ve been given. But other years, it seems as if nothing has gone right.

Crossroads: You’re Not Perfect

As a first grader, I was a pretty big talker. I loved to talk to everyone about everything. And one day we had a fire drill at school. You were not supposed to talk during the fire drill, but I did.

Crossroads: Giving Generously

Has there been a time when you didn’t have much, but you still gave to the church or to someone else? Talk about that sacrifice: how it felt, how you had to step out on faith, etc.

Crossroads: All Saints’ Day

It’s hard for me to believe that Sunday, October 29, makes two and a half years since my granddad died. Over the past two years, I’ve found myself remembering a lot of things about him: the way he smiled, how he smelled, and all of the memories of the things we did together.

Crossroads: Don’t Stop Believing

When my mom was a teenager, she really wanted to be a youth minister. She felt God’s call and she knew that she should be a youth minister. But in that time, women weren’t really ministers. And people discouraged her, saying that surely God wasn’t calling her to ministry.

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.

Flame: Praying for Sad Situations

Children can really identify with a sense of sadness, and, as a fact of life, sad things happen. They occur in our lives, in the lives of people we know, and in the world as a whole. Here is a prayer station to help children (especially younger ones) pray that God will bring joy and happiness to those experiencing times of sadness.

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.

Crossroads: The Answer Is Prayer

I’m a worrier. It’s who I am. I worry about test results, about family members and close friends, about the future, etc. Sometimes my worry feels overwhelming. And so I pray.

Crossroads: Children

“Children should be seen and not heard.” “Go sit at the kid’s table.” Did you hear things like this when you were a child? Maybe you were taught that you should sit quietly and not interrupt the grownups who were talking.

Crossroads: Which Way Should I Go?

Have you ever been lost? Have you ever been at a crossroads where everything looked the same? Talk about a time when you were lost. How did you find your way?

Flame: Light of the World Lantern

Lanterns and lamps appear in many Bible stories and they’re so easy to make, but I’ve always been disappointed that it’s difficult to put a light in a lantern without risking the whole thing going up in flames.

Crossroads: Do Something

Theory and practice are two very different things. I may believe that I can do something, but until I actually do it, who knows whether or not I can?

Crossroads: The Armor of God

Have you ever seen some of the equipment that comes with playing sports? Football players put on helmets, chin guards, mouth guards, cleats, and shoulder pads in order to protect themselves when they play.

Crossroads: Watch What God Does

Have you ever been in a foreign place where you didn’t know what to do and how to act? Most of the time, when we are in places like these, we watch others to see what they do and how they act.

Bells: A Meditation for Teachers

Telephone bells, doorbells, school bells, and fire alarms all alert us and prepare us to go into action. Our modern use of bells is totally different than one hundred years ago. Church bells rang the hour of the day and told of a death.

Crossroads: The Body of Christ

God has given each of us different gifts. Some are called to preach, others to teach, others to make snacks for Vacation Bible School, still others to fix the air conditioner when it breaks.

Flame: A Lesson in Self-Control

Today we continued studying the fruit of the Spirit by looking at self-control. We tried a game to start that involved marbles and cut up paper towel tubes.

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?

Crossroads: My Shepherd

Most of the time, I associate this well-known psalm with funerals. I don’t like to read it because it brings to mind sadness and pain. And yet, this psalm is all about peace. It is also about being treasured.

Crossroads: King of Glory

The LORD Almighty is the King of glory. The earth is the LORD’s and everything in it. Praise the LORD! Sometimes we forget that everything is God’s and that God created everyone.

Hardwired to Sin

As future adoptive parents, my wife and I just completed a two-day course about the ways that neurochemistry determines the behaviors of children and parents. We learned that neuropathways form in an infant’s brain on the basis of a caregiver’s abuse or neglect.

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 Parable of the Mustard Seed

If you have ever planted a flower, you know that it starts from a tiny seed. That seed doesn’t look like much; in fact, you might lose it if you drop it. But when you put that seed in soil, cover it up, and water it, something amazing starts to happen. Pretty soon, you start to see green sprouts.

Flame: Cardboard Tube Cross

Last week my children’s ministry team and I visited our church’s preschool to run a prayer workshop for each class in celebration of the church’s 10 Days of Prayer initiative. This was one of their favorite activities.

Crossroads: God Knows

Talk about a time in your life when you felt invisible, when you felt like no one else knew your pain and it seemed like you were on your own. Did you turn to God?

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: Pentecost

For as long as I can remember, I have loved the French language. And as soon as I got to high school, I started taking French. Because I went to a private, Catholic school, one of the first things I learned was the Lord’s Prayer in French.

Crossroads: Waiting on the Lord

I find myself anxious a good bit of the time. I worry about what will happen, whether or not something will actually occur, and if things will turn out okay. It seems like Psalm 27 was written for worriers.

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.

A View from the Pew: When Your Kids Don’t Like Church

We make our children do lots of things they don’t want to do. Homework. Brush their teeth. Go to school. Take a bath. Go to bed. Eat their vegetables. Share their toys. The list goes on and on. And many of these activities are non-negotiable for our children.

Moses in the Bulrushes: Prayers for Safety

When telling the story of baby Moses being left in a basket in the river by his mother, I like to focus on the theme of safety. Here is the prayer activity we ended with. It was so easy but felt so significant!

Crossroads: Why Did Jesus Come?

“God so loved the world…” you can probably say the rest. We learn that verse and remember how much God loves us. Why did Jesus come? Jesus came because God loved the world so much that God couldn’t sit by and watch us move farther and farther away from God.

Crossroads: Ash Wednesday

This year, Ash Wednesday falls on Valentine’s Day. It’s a time when we will put ashes on our foreheads in the shape of a cross, but it’s also a time when we will exchange Valentines at school, give cards to our families, and give and receive lots of candy. These two events, Ash Wednesday and Valentine’s Day, seem very different.

Crossroads: God’s Great Plan for You

As a child, I never liked to see people unhappy. I always wanted to do what I could to help. When I was about five, we went to a local nursing home to sing for the residents. While we were there, we met a lady in a wheelchair who really wanted to go home.

Flame: Jesus Calms the Storm – Sensory Bottles

I’ve been doing a little bit of experimenting with sensory bottles this week as I wanted to make some to help the children under 5 years old to explore the story of Jesus calming the storm.

Crossroads: God Sees It All

As a child, my mom always knew everything I did (at least it felt that way!). Like one in the first grade, I talked during a fire drill, which was a big no-no. I got in trouble at school, and when I got home that day, my mom asked me if anything had happened at school that day. I said no.

Crossroads: The Angel Candle/Candle of Love

Today we light the last purple candle. This candle is the angel candle, or the candle of love. This candle reminds us of the love God has shown us through Jesus.

Flame: Advent Prayer Bags

Lately, I’ve seen a variety of lovely ideas online for helping children and families to get involved with the Advent season. Drawing on some of the ideas I’ve seen, I’ve come up with a little bag of items that will take children through some of the main Advent themes.

Crossroads: The Candle of Bethlehem/Peace

Welcome to the second week of Advent! This week, our focus lies on Mary and Joseph, a couple who were waiting for the changes that come with a big transition: a new baby.

Crossroads: The Candle of Prophecy/Hope

Welcome to the first week of Advent! Advent is a time of preparation, when we wait and prepare for the Christ child. Each week you will light a new candle as we recognize the things that Christ brings to this world: hope, peace, joy, and love.

DIY Nativity Advent Calendar

If you’ve ever thought of making your own Advent calendar but wondered if it would be too tricky, this is the post for you! Here you can make your own Nativity-themed calendar that can hold candy, small toys, or personalized daily Advent activities.

Crossroads: Tell Me the Story

I grew up in church. For as far back as I can remember, I had Sunday school teachers telling me about Jesus and how much God loves us. My preacher knew who I was and he told me about Jesus too. My mom told me about Jesus and my grandparents told me about Jesus. I knew that I was surrounded by God’s love.

Crossroads: Signs and Wonders

A friend of mine is a Kindergarten teacher. And she became a Kindergarten teacher after God spoke to her. She saw the word “Kindergarten” in big, bold letters in her Bible one day. Afterward, she tried to find it again and couldn’t. One day, though, she was reading something in her Bible and there she saw it.

Crossroads: Our Attitude

I loved school. When I was a kid, I loved everything about school. And I loved good grades. I wanted to be the best. But here’s the thing: there was always someone better than me. No matter what I did, no matter how hard I tried, there was always that one person who was smarter.