DOING LENT TOGETHER

This WednTOGETHER FOR LENTesday, we being the Lenten season with Ash Wednesday. This is a day we remember that we were created from dust and will return to dust. We remember that Jesus died for us. We remember to ask for forgiveness. We have 40 days of Lent, most commonly known as a time of changing our ways, simple living and preparation. And it is all of those things. But it can also be more. It can be a time of beauty, reflection and family moments!

It can be hard to explain Ash Wednesday, Lent and even Easter to a child. Sometimes it’s even hard to understand ourselves! When I was a child, all I knew about Lent was that I was to give up something. I knew it was a sacrifice to represent Jesus’ 40 days in the desert. But I also knew that I could eat as much as I wanted to on Sunday (eat because my sacrifice usually involved chocolate or candy). I sometimes got a new dress or hat to wear to church. And we always colored eggs. Sure I knew that Easter was the day Jesus rose from the dead, but it didn’t go much deeper than that. I just knew the story.

Each day during Lent, we will be posting a simple activity you can do with your child and/or family. These activities will give you a time & space to enter into a conversation that will allow your child to ask questions, allow you to listen, allow you to share, allow you to read together and learn together.

It is our hope that FaithWorks! families will create many moments this Lenten season that will help you foster your child’s spiritual journey. We want to help you create memories and maybe even traditions. We pray that your family will understand and celebrate -together- Jesus’ love, for each and every one of us, on a deeper level.

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Starting Right: Let’s Pray!

This January, Clay Church has been challenged to think about what prayer is, spend five minutes a day praying without asking for anything, and claim holy spaces! Hopefully you’ve opted in for the daily text message reminder and are finding yourself connecting with God on a new level!

Here are five ways you can pray with and claim holy spaces with your child!

  1. Their shoes. Pray with your child as they put their shoes on each morning. Ask God to guide their steps, protect them as they travel through their day, and help them take steps toward sharing God’s love with those around them. Words your child would understand could include: “Lord, let every step my child takes in these shoes today be a reminder that you are really with us always” or “help me to keep from running and walk quietly through the halls of school” or “keep me safe on these icy sidewalks as I walk to the bus stop” or “when I’m playing outside today help me to remember that I may not be first in line and that’s ok” or to bat or to take their turn or or or…
  2. Their lunch. Pray with your child as you make your child’s lunch or hand them money to buy their lunch or talk about what’s on the menu for today. Ask God to keep their bodies healthy. Ask Him to help your child make good & healthy choices when eating. Ask God to make their lunch table a holy place where love is evident. You might encourage them to ask God to “help me eat my carrots before my cookie so my tummy has room for the good stuff!” Maybe they can pray that “I can help the other kids at my table be nicer to each other.” They can also tell God all the things that they think are cool and awesome about the way He created them!
  3. The car. Sometimes it’s easy to get in the car and turn on the radio. Then before you know it you’ve arrived at your destination and are getting out. Try spending the time during one trip to talk about your child’s day. And ask them what they’d like you to pray for. They may have something specific that is important to them that you can talk to God about with them! Kids love to talk about themselves. Allow them some space and time to do just that! Even a car can be holy space.
  4. The table. Dinner seems to a common time to pray. Maybe instead of just asking God to bless the meal, ask everyone to share something great that happened that day AND something that was not so great. Maybe you’ll be surprised to learn something new. Then ask your child to pray. This can also be done at breakfast time or lunch time or any time you sit down with your family. Maybe it’ll even be homework time. Homework time can be a stressful time! But beginning with thanking God for the school day, home, and the opportunity to learn new things may turn that table into holy space, lending a calm presence to that moment!
  5. The bathtub. As your child plays and bathes in the water, talk about why water is good for you! How drinking it is great for growing a strong body and it’s keeps you healthy! Talk about how water cleans our bodies. Try to name all the fishes and animals that God created who live in the water. Talk about how different life is for our friends in Burkina Faso, who have very little clean water. Ask God to help you understand why the world is different in many places and how you can help those around you with less. Kids have a very generous heart and may have some amazing ways to bless others! Let them dream! And ask God to help make those dreams come true.

“The first thing I want you to do is pray. Pray every way you know how, for everyone you know.” 1 Timothy 2:1 MSG

If you are not yet receiving the text reminders every day and want to be included, text CLAYPRAY to 313131! You’ll be able to respond and share how this is working in your life!

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We’re Off to Camp Lakewood!

Why do we do summer camp? We do summer camp because:

IMG_6811I did the Mammoth Swing today and screamed! I was so scared! But my friends encouraged me and cheered me on. They prayed with me to be brave!

I made seven new friends this week!

I learned that God loves me even when I lie.

I didn’t know my sins kept me away from God. That’s sad. I don’t want to be sad.

IMG_6790I spent the night away from home! I was really nervous but I liked my bunk bed up on top. And my new friends.

I learned that Jesus loves me enough to die for my sins. And I can be in heaven with Him, someday. It’s going to be beautiful!

I learned that Jesus forgives me. Even when I hurt my sister’s feelings.

I learned that I like to swim under water!IMG_6771

I prayed out loud today in my cabin with my friends and counselors. I’ve never done that before! It was awesome!

I felt God hugging me.

I found the story of Jonah in the Bible!

My counselor really likes me. And I like when he tells me about God.

My friend from last yeIMG_6580ar, who I didn’t know before, who is eight like me, and we both like yellow, was in my cabin again! It was a surprise! And I liked it.

I learned that God is always with me.

I want Jesus to be my Friend, forever.

Just a few reasons we do camp. The list could really go on. And on. And on.

Summer camp is a place where kids experience God. A place where Jesus becomes real. A place where everyday life revolves around faith. All mixed up in a whole lot of fun. It’s like heaven really. On earth. Now.

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FaithWorks! ROCKS!

FaithWorks RULES SlideI wanted to introduce you to three little statements that your child will be hearing a lot of this year. They’re little. They’re brief.  But they’re not short on power!

They’re rules. They’re rocks. And we hope your child will build a lifelong foundation grounded in a relationship with Jesus as their Forever Friend and use these as a guide for living in faith every day.

Our first week back together, after the summer, was focused on showing love for God. The children understand that there are many different ways to show our love, some include talking to God, reading our Bible, and singing to Him. The children were encouraged to remember that when we are singing in FaithWorks!, we are singing TO God! And God doesn’t care what your neighbor is doing: if you want to close your eyes, do it! if you want to hold your hands up in the air, do it! if you want to dance, do it! if you want to stand still and just listen to the other voices, do it! We are to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37 NIV). Jesus said this was the greatest commandment! A commandment! He wasn’t just saying to think about it, or be shy about it, but do it!

The day we learned about showing love for others, we created a feast! Every small group created or brought something to share. We had pitchers of water filled and carried in by first graders, trail mix stirred up and paper plates carried in by preschoolers and kindergarteners, our older kids made dip for carrots, cut up apples, put together cheese & crackers, and coated graham crackers with frosting & sprinkles! It was delicious! And everyone had a plate full. Jesus said, “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command” (John 15:9-14). Another commandment. Jesus is serious about this stuff!

Showing love for self can be hard. But we have encouraged your child to remember that God created them exactly the way they are. In Genesis 1, we learn that “God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them.” And when God says something is “good” He means it (take a look at Genesis 1:26-31). 

Each Sunday, we asked your child to commit to living these things out at home. Each Sunday they wrote something down that they wanted to do. Did you notice them show some love for God? Or show someone how much they love them? Did you notice your child be a little more self-confident?

Ask them about it. Talk with them. What are they doing to:

Show love for God?

Show love for others?

Show love for self?

Because we’ll keep mentioning it every Sunday. We hope you will keep talking about it Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

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One Gift Goes A Long Way

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These oxen can help share God’s story of love through Jesus Christ. See below how you can be a part of that opportunity!

I find these fascinating to look at. What I would call cows, these look skinnier than what we know as cows in Indiana. My eyes get drawn to the knobby knees, the bony joints, their slender noses and skinny tails. But I’ve come to call each of these an “ox.” Because that’s what they’re called in Burkina Faso. Well, they’re probably technically an ox, actually, but my time in Burkina Faso has helped me see them truly as oxen.

But their differences to me now are larger than physical and name: I look at these animals differently because they have become partners with us in sharing the Gospel. That’s right, I said they are on our team. They are on a mission with us and for God!

The FaithWorks! kids are on a mission, together with these oxen, to share God’s story of Living Water to our friends in Burkina Faso, Africa. We want to gift an ox, along with a plow and some farming attachments, to each graduating pastor at the Pondou Bible School. The men getting ready to graduate will soon be assigned to a village where they will relocate and begin pastoring. They are eager to be sharing stories about Jesus and spreading His love!

We, at Clay Church, are working hard to help the Burkinabe have healthier lives by providing clean water. Pastors are able to share the story of Jesus over a bucket. But if our pastors aren’t healthy enough to give that message??? then what will fall on those ears?

We want to keep our pastor friends fed and healthy. We want a strong message of Jesus Christ building in Burkina Faso. And our means of doing that is through these magnificent creatures! By walking into their new village with an ox and plow in tow, these new residents will not only be able to farm enough to feed their families, but be a resource to their new community! And at the end of the day, after the ground it tilled, have an opportunity to share many stories from the Bible. Possibly one like this:

Isaiah 55:8-13

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts.
As the rain and the snow
    come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
    without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
    so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
    It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
    and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
You will go out in joy
    and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and hills
    will burst into song before you,
and all the trees of the field
    will clap their hands.
Instead of the thornbush will grow the juniper,
    and instead of briers the myrtle will grow.
This will be for the Lord’s renown,
    for an everlasting sign,
    that will endure forever.”

Okay, maybe they won’t mention the snow🙂 But they can have an object lesson at every turn of that ox and plow!

The FaithWorks! kids are always looking for ways to help friends around the world! An ox and plow, along with a few attachments, costs $650. The FaithWorks! children have raised close to $10,000 which is enough for 15. There are 28 graduates this spring. If you are interested in helping our children reach our goal, please contact Karen Grant this week! You can email her at karen_grant2@yahoo.com or call her at (574) 272-8083 ext. 112.

We’d love to have you on our team! This one gift can go a long way. Let’s change our world!

 

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