There are some things God could have made just a little clearer in the Bible.
“I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a deacon of the church in Cenchreae. I ask you to receive her in the Lord in a way worthy of his people and to give her any help she may need from you, for she has been the benefactor of many people, including me.” Romans 16:1-2 (NIV)
Cenchreae, the seaport of Corinth. While Paul ministered in Corinth, he must have befriended Phoebe. Served alongside her. The church there possibly met in her home. Some scholars believe he entrusted her with THE letter to the Romans.
And could it be that she and Priscilla, of Priscilla and Aquila fame, attended church together? They both lived in the Corinth area for the 18 months Paul spent there. Maybe they hosted the very first women’s Bible study. We don’t know….
I publish a number of my articles over at Life Letter Cafe dot com. The LifeNotes blogging community. A fine group of Christian writers. You can read the rest of today's original post over there. Here's the link.
I'm pleased to be partnering with Family Christian Stores for this post. While the post is sponsored, the opinions expressed here are my own.
Saturday, February 28th, FOR ONE DAY ONLY, Family Christian is having an incredible sale. Everything in the kids department is 30% off. If you like the products I used below or if you’ve had your eye on something special, all kids stuff is 30% off!
Sunday School looks different for fourth and fifth graders. Or at least it should. Many of them have spent their younger years growing up in the church Sunday after Sunday. Others might be new to church but don’t want to suffer the embarrassment of not knowing how to look stuff up in the Bible or answer all the questions correctly (hint: If you’re ever in doubt, just answer with Jesus).
Our church has tried different things to keep the Sunday morning hour interesting for these kids, who will leave the children’s department behind for youth group in just a few months.
The Sunday I helped out, we had a Pizza Party! Nothing introduces kids to a future in the youth group like a pizza party, right?
Since it was Sunday morning, I made a fruit pizza (recipe below). Although I’m certain they would have eaten pepperoni if I’d offered it.
Before I let them eat, we did a group project. Each of our groups have classroom Bibles. This kid-friendly version is easy for them to use plus it’s always nice to have a few Bibles available for visitors who maybe didn’t bring one. We used these to decide on one particular Bible story. Then, dividing into groups of illustrators, cover designers, writers and researchers, we created a book that could be read to a younger class.
They decided on David and Goliath. It was a real group effort and after much discussion, the kids produced a six-page narrative of this popular story, complete with illustrations.
For all their hard work, the kids were rewarded with pizza. My husband had high hopes when I was making the pizza that morning that perhaps there would be a piece left for him. No such luck....
After we ate pizza, I introduced a couple game options they could choose from. Admittedly, the Noah’s Ark Memory Match Game was probably a bit too easy. We saved it for the same kids that would read our masterful David & Goliath book. The students opted to play Children’s Bible Trivia. So, we'll save The Action Bible Guess-It Game for another Sunday.
This game is best played in teams to keep things even. The kids were having so much fun coming up with the answers (and stumping the other team), it didn’t seem like time to go when the first parent arrived.
If we as parents and church members have done our part, these kids have gained a ton of Bible knowledge and discipleship tools during their time with us. We’ve prepared them well. Their whole world’s about to change as they enter middle school and youth group.
Every now and then, it’s more than OK to just reward them for their faithfulness and have a little fun!
I'm pleased to be partnering with Chuck E. Cheese for this post. While the post is sponsored, the opinions expressed here are my own.
And great news! Chuck E. Cheese is also giving a Guest Pass away to one of my readers. It's good for 1 large pizza, 4 soft drinks and 30 game tokens! You can enter the giveaway below.
Sometimes blogging feels like work. I don’t financially support my family doing it, so it’s nothing like work in that way. But all the marketing behind it; the time you put in reading and responding to other blogger articles; the social media presence; the hard, bleeding articles I feel led to write sometimes. Work in a good way.
Other times, blogging feels like fun. That’s the part I’m writing about today. FUN!
I received an invite to visit our local Chuck E. Cheese restaurant for an afternoon event. It seems they have been working hard to reinvent their menu to accommodate the adults who accompany their kids to the restaurant. They’re rolling out this new menu for a trial period at our Grand Rapids location. Just to see which of the new items are favored. My initial reaction: genius.
I took my daughter and her friend to the promotional event. Upon arrival, we were greeted by a nice lady who stamped our hands with invisible matching numbers. I’ve always appreciated this security measure.
My daughter put on her serious face and said,
“You know, I’ve been using my secret agent pen and its marks will surely show up when you scan our hands.”
Apparently, a little inside secret known only to fellow secret agents.
Once inside, we met our hosts for the afternoon. They told us the girls could play for a while before we listened to the presentation about the new menu and got a chance to do some taste testing. They gave my daughter and her friend each a cup of tokens.
“Here you go. If you run out, just let us know and we’ll get you some more.”
I’m pretty sure my daughter told me about a dream she had once where she heard those exact words.
And play they did. They could not get to the games fast enough. They took pictures. They collected tickets. What a trip!
An employee came and found us to take my drink order. Apparently, Chuck E. Cheese has also upgraded their coffee selection. I ordered a vanilla cream something-fancy and it was delicious. Something I could definitely sip on while watching the kids go crazy, er, play.
After the girls made their prize selections, we ventured over to the food. Y’all, Chuck E. Cheese has gone and grown up! The food smelled fantastic. It tasted even better. Thin crust pizza with adult toppings (think spinach, mushrooms, bbq sauce, crispy onions). I’m used to ordering pizza when we visit, but what I’d really recommend is the BBQ chicken ciabatta sandwich. It stood out as a favorite of mine.
The girls devoured the soft parmesan breadsticks. Then, after having one slice of pepperoni pizza, since it was a special occasion, I let them load up on desserts. Dessert churros served with salted caramel and white chocolate icing. Cinnamon breadsticks with white chocolate icing.
The food was very good. Food I would crave. And wouldn’t our children love that?!
“Hey, kids, we’re hungry for a thin crust pizza at Chuck E. Cheese. Would you mind if we went there for dinner again?”
If there was any doubt about the afternoon being a success for my daughter and her friend, I heard these words uttered from the back seat on the way home,
“We should definitely do that again next year when they have it.”
We went on a double date recently. Something we don’t do that often but we sure enjoy it when we have the opportunity.
Since the first night I met my husband, I have enjoyed watching him socialize. He’s very good at it. I am a proud wife.
The other wife and I had set up this date. We know each other from school and decided it would be fun if the four of us went out for dinner. She offered to arrange the childcare at her house. Sold.
Our two guys hit if off right away. I could overhear their conversation and immediately recognized many of the stories. After so many years together, the stories tend to repeat themselves. I smiled to hear them being shared - again. I even asked him to contribute certain stories. Although I’ve heard them dozens of times or more, they are my personal favorites.
We had a Hispanic guy at a place where I used to work. He could eat super hot things. One day he brought in these tiny little peppers. Literally small enough you could swallow it whole and not have to chew it. He offered up a $20 bet to anyone who would eat one of the peppers. I took the bet. Ended up leaving work early that day. Sick as a dog. Apparently peppers can still be hot even if you don’t take a single bite.
My husband also shared some new-to-me stories that evening. We live separate lives for approximately ten hours every weekday. I don’t know most of his coworkers. It always surprises me a little to hear him share a story I haven’t heard before. We forget that those most familiar can still surprise us.
The other couple shared some stories about their family travels. Always an adventure when you’re traveling with young children! It would trigger a memory of our own and Ryan and I would tag team telling a story. Few details get left out when you recreate the memory together.
Remember the time we traveled from Ludington to Mackinaw City? Our daughter was about eight months old. Something had her fussy and she wailed the entire two-hour trip. We stepped out of the car convinced we’d made the right decision to only have one child. Bless.
Throughout the evening, Ryan would place his hand on the small of my back. Our hands brushed against one another. I noticed the other couple lean in and share emotional exchanges. This night was about being couples. Ordinary schedules were set aside. The to-do list remained at home.
We need these reminders. Why we fell in love with our spouse in the first place. How much life has been shared between two people. The memories your family is making together.
The important stuff.
I hurt so much when I hear of a couple getting a divorce. I know valid reasons exist for separating. I have seen God redeem broken marriages, broken hearts, broken lives. But in my own life, I place a high value on my marriage relationship. I am thankful to have a husband who is for me. I treasure the stories we share. This life we build. It's not perfect. Overrated.
But I can honestly say every day, I am in love with the man I married. If that is you as well, don’t take it for granted.
Ryan gave me a card for our anniversary a few years back. I think I have it somewhere. Regardless, I still remember the one line printed inside:
“I’d choose you all over again.”
Sometimes you want to go...
Where everybody knows your name,
and they're always glad you came.
You wanna be where you can see,
our troubles are all the same
You wanna be where everybody knows
Where Everybody Knows Your Name (aka Cheers Theme Song)
I received a copy of "Fellowship of Differents: Showing the World God's Design for Life Together" by Scot McKnight, from NetGalley for the purpose of generating a review. All italicized quotes below are from the book. The opinions expressed here are my own. The book releases TODAY!
I’m hoping it doesn’t offend anyone if I ask you to read sing these lyrics while thinking about your local church.
And if that makes you even a smidge uncomfortable, prepare yourself. Because Scot McKnight’s latest book, “A Fellowship of Differents,” isn’t going to be an easy read. But it’s a necessary one.
He starts out by reminiscing about his childhood days in a local Baptist church.
“Getting people saved mostly meant getting Methodists, Presbyterians, and Lutherans to come to our church, preferably for a revival.”
In the opening pages, he offer readers these principles:
If this is the case, what is the local church teaching us? That’s when I started singing Cheers. You too?
McKnight is a New Testament scholar. He is currently Professor of New Testament at Northern Baptist Theological Seminary. A big part of his life work has been about answering the following question:
“What then is the church supposed to be?”
Using modern-day examples woven in with church history, McKnight helps us understand what God had in mind when He inspired Paul to pen these words:
“There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 3:28
This book does an excellent job explaining the context of this verse. It was earth-shattering stuff in Paul’s day. We don’t fully grasp this because we are so removed from the ancient Roman world. The people in these new house churches were about as different as you can imagine. These truths were revolutionary. In fact, they still are.
“The only way they would make it is if each person learned to love the others. Roman slaves and workshop owners were not used to sitting down at table and praying with Torah-observant Jews, and kosher Jews were not used to reading Scripture with prostitutes or migrant workers....”
Consider the widows among you. The single. Various races. The differences in education and economics. Varying approaches to worship. Contrasting interpretations of Scripture (not necessarily about the BIG stuff but maybe).
How much different can you tolerate in your local church?
McKnight leaves nothing untouched. What I appreciated most was he doesn’t come across as preaching. He just presents questions for you to consider. His insight on what “going to church” looked like in the first century will fascinate.
You won’t read this book and get immediate answers. Sometimes answers come only after we examine our thinking and make necessary adjustments.
“When [we, the church] live in fellowship, the Me finds its joy in the We. It’s messy, believe me, very messy, but no matter what the mess, the gospel is at work to turn messy people into holy people, even if it takes a lifetime (or more).”
And great news! Family Christian is also partnering with me to give one of you a $25 Appreciation Certificate (works like a gift card). You can use it towards purchasing this Bible. Or on whatever you'd like! Enter the giveaway at the end of this article.
I still have mine. Dated 1981. The inside cover reads:
Given By: Mother with love always trust in God and remember Romans 8:28.
One of the first verses I ever committed to memory. I remember feeling so big because I had my very own Bible.
All. Grown. Up.
In it, I recorded various church events from my growing up years. My baptism. Bible drills. Church camp. Youth for Christ.
I’ve had several Bibles since then. Some would say I have an obsession. To which I would respond, you can never have too much of a Good Thing.
But nothing beats the treasure of the first one. You know?
That’s why I’m so excited about “The Action Study Bible” from David C Cook Publishing. Just released last month, it's available in hardcover or LeatherSoft. Not only would it make an excellent first ESV Bible for a young reader, it offers more:
In our house, we’ve used “The Action Bible,” a narrative of Bible stories in chronological order, as our nighttime devotional for about a year now. I’ve learned so many new details along the way. It’s a fresh way to learn about what’s in the Bible.
This complete study Bible takes that idea one step further. It combines the popular illustrations with a substantial amount of facts and reflections. A Bible that can easily take one well into his teen years.
Also a keepsake.
We’re gifting this Bible to a friend for his birthday. It’s my hope he’ll read it now. Wear it out. But also that maybe, in thirty years or so, he might still have it. And every time he sees it on the bookshelf, the memories of his early days in church will come flooding back.