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Challenge Family Activity technology

Disconnect to Connect

Technology brings many benefits to our lives. But excessive screen time can create a flat, one-dimensional existence. We were made for the rich, three-dimensional experience of relationship with God and one another. So, while technology is great for some types of communication, it is no substitute for real-world, face-to-face connection.

The goal is not just less screen time, but more real connection. Start two simple strategies to shift the balance in your family life.

TECH-FREE ZONES

Choose several “tech-free zones” where the family agrees to put away devices in order to enhance real-life connection. Select from the following zones or come up with your own. Consider placing a basket in each location for everyone to drop their devices as they enter.

1. Mealtime: Include the table at home and in restaurants so that every mealtime can foster face-to-face conversation.

2. Drive Time: Rather than everyone retreating into his or her device, use the time driving together to connect, pray for the day ahead or hear about everyone’s high and low point during the day. (Some exceptions may apply, such as limited use during long distance travel, etc.)

3. Date Time: Give your undivided attention to your spouse during dates. It is ok if you need to check your phone to be sure the sitter is not trying to reach you, but then go right back to enjoying time together.

<h3>REAL CONNECTION IDEAS</h3>
While reducing tech time, increase the time you spend together as a couple, a family or with friends. Choose from the following ideas or come up with your own for making memories and conversation.
• Play a board game together
• Cook a meal together
• Play a sport together
• Go for a walk or bike ride together
• Read a book aloud to the children as they turn pages
• Do a service project together

Subscribe today to get these and other great ideas on how you can connect 3D in your inbox.

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Family Activity Resources

Summer@Home

Summer is a great time to do things that you don’t get to do during the school year. Who doesn’t love a good road trip? But, if we are not intentional, we can let our faith take a back seat. Here are some resources to help you—as an individual or as a family—to grow in faith, and have fun, too, this summer.

Check out this article written by Christina Embree with families in mind:

Practical and Fun Ways to Keep Church and Family Connected All Summer Long

One of the ideas Christina features is the Summer Family Activity Book created by The Village Church. Click here for a list of activities specific to the Tyler area.

Are you guilty of over-planning? Don’t forget to rest and spend time with God:

Four Ways to Rest this Summer

Learn to practice Sabbath with these steps from Pete Scazzero:

Four Steps to a Meaningful Sabbath

Don’t let your faith take a back seat this summer. Be intentional about spending time with God and growing in your faith together!

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Family Activity Family Devo Resources

Easter@Home – Family Resources

Throughout Church history, families have joined together to commemorate and celebrate the death, burial and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. No holiday season is more central to our faith or more important to emphasize with the next generation. Too often, however, we forget to create and capture moments at home that could make the holiday more impactful.

STAND@Home has resources for your family with easy-to-implement ideas for each day from Palm Sunday to Easter. Take advantage of the links below and make this Easter a special time for remembering Christ’s death, burial and resurrection with your family.

Welcome Peace – Palm Sunday Family Discussion

Washing Feet – Family Activity

Praying for Unity – Family Activity and Devotional

Love your Enemy – Family Activity and Devotional

Remembering – Family Communion Devotional

The Day Death Died – A Good Friday Family Devo

I Will Wait – Holy Saturday Reflections

Resurrection Rolls – Celebrate the Resurrection

HOLY WEEK 2016

As you reflect on the days leading up to the resurrection, consider joining with other believers at one or more of these local events.

Wednesday, March 23
—Noon, Holy Week Service, First Christian Church
—6:30 p.m., Life Together in Christ: Experiencing Transformation in Community, Glenwood
—6:30 p.m., Strength for the Journey: A Study of Hebrews, Glenwood

Thursday, March 24
—Noon, Holy Week Service, First Christian Church
—6:00 p.m., Maundy Thursday Service, First Christian Church
—7:00 p.m., Maundy Thursday Service, Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church

Friday, March 25
—Noon, Holy Week Service, First Christian Church
—7:00 p.m., U2charist, First Christian Church
—7:00 p.m., Good Friday Service, Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church

Saturday, March 26
—10:00 a.m., Easter Egg Hunt, Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church
—10:30 a.m., Easter Egg Hunt, Glenwood
—7:00 p.m., I Will Wait: A Taizé Service, Glenwood

Categories
Family Activity Family Devo Resources

Advent – The Lighting of the Christ Candle: Our Waiting is Over!

The Lighting of the Christ Candle should be completed on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. For an introduction to Advent please see our first post: An Introduction to Advent. Also see the lighting of the First, Second, Third, and Fourth Candle.

[Re-light the three purple candles and the pink candle]

We Celebrate the Birth of Christ

In the season of Advent we have used the Advent wreath and its candles to help us get ready for this great celebration of the birth of Christ.

When we lit the first purple candle, we asked God to come and be our Good Shepherd. God our Shepherd has come in Jesus Christ!

When we lit the second purple candle, we asked God to come and forgive our sins. God has come in Jesus Christ to take our sins and die upon the cross so that we might be redeemed!

When we lit the third, pink candle, we felt joyful even in our longing for Christ to come. Christ, who has been born in a manger, will come again in glory to wipe away every tear from our eyes!

When we lit the fourth candle, we remembered that Christ would come as a son – the son of Mary, the Son of David, and the Son of God! This Son has been born! He is Immanuel–God with us!

Today we celebrate the birth of Jesus the Christ, Jesus the Good Shepherd, Jesus who forgives our sins, Jesus who will come again, Jesus the son of Mary, the Son of David, and the very Son of God!

Prayer for God’s Help

Dear God, as we light the center candle today, may we celebrate with full joy the birth of your Son, Jesus the Christ. Amen!

Scripture Readings

Micah 5:1–5
God promises through the prophet Micah that his future rule will come from Bethlehem, even though this town is, indeed, a “little town” and quite insignificant.

Luke 2:1–20
Jesus the Messiah is born in Bethlehem!

Psalm 145
Let us join the psalmist in offering praise to God for his mighty works!

Lighting of the Candle

[As someone lights the center, white candle, the following should be read or paraphrased.]

We light this candle with great joy and celebration, because Christ is born in Bethlehem. God’s Son has come into the world to be our Savior! And he will come again in glory.

Prayer of Joy and Adoration

Dear God, as we light this candle, we rejoice in the birth of your Son. May we worship him, welcome him, and make room for him in our hearts. O come, let us adore him! Amen!

Closing Song

O come let us adore him,
O come let us adore him,
O come let us adore him,
Christ the Lord!

This Advent Devotional is adapted from Rev. Dr. Mark D. Roberts Advent Devotional Guide.

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Family Activity Family Devo Resources

Advent – The Lighting of the Fourth Candle: Waiting for the Son

The Lighting of the Fourth Candle should be completed on or around the Fourth Sunday of Advent. For an introduction to Advent please see our first post: An Introduction to Advent. Also see the lighting of the First, Second, and Third Candle.

[Re-light two purple candles and the pink candle.]

We Remember the Meaning of Advent

Advent is a word that means “coming” or “visit.” In the Christian season of Advent, we prepare for the “advent” of Christ at Christmas. Our preparation includes many things:

• We remember Israel’s hope for the coming of God’s Messiah to save, to forgive, and to restore.
• We remember our hope for the second coming of Jesus.
• We remember our need for a Savior to save us from our sins.
• We prepare to welcome Christ at Christmas into our world . . . and into our hearts.

By lighting one candle each week of Advent, we help ourselves to get ready for the birth of Jesus. So far we have lit three candles. The first reminded us to wait for God our Shepherd. With the second we asked the Lord to come and forgive our sins. The third, pink, candle signified our joy as we wait.

Today we focus on the coming of the Son–the son of Mary, the Son of God!

Prayer for God’s Help

Dear God, thank you for this season of Advent that helps us to prepare for the coming of Christ at Christmas. As we read the Bible and light a candle, may excitement for Christ’s coming burn in our hearts. Amen.

Scripture Readings

Psalm 89:1–4, 19-37, 46-52
This psalm celebrates God’s covenant with David and with the descendants of David. He even calls God “my Father” (vs. 26). But the psalmist composed this psalm at a time when God’s blessing upon Israel seemed very far away. He calls upon the Lord to remember his covenant to David.

Isaiah 9:1–7
Deliverance will come for God’s people through the “son” who is given to them. He will sit on the throne of David and his kingdom will last forever.

Luke 1:26–38
The angel Gabriel announces to Mary that she is pregnant and will give birth to a son. Her son will also be “the Son of the Most High” and will sit on the throne of David. He will be the reigning Son of David and the divine Son of God!

Lighting of the Candle

[As someone lights the final purple candle, the following should be read or paraphrased.]

We light this candle because we look forward with eagerness to the birth of a child, the son of Mary and the Son of God! The purple color reminds us of how serious we are in looking forward to the Son’s birth.

Prayer of Hope

Dear God, as we light this candle, we look ahead with hope to the birth of your Son — the Son of David, the son of Mary. May we be prepared to welcome him with open arms and open hearts. O come now, Son of David! Amen!

Closing Song

[To be sung to the tune of “O come let us adore him” from “O Come All Ye Faithful.”]

O come now, Son of David,
O come now, Son of David,
O come now, Son of David,
Christ the Lord!

This Advent Devotional is adapted from Rev. Dr. Mark D. Roberts Advent Devotional Guide.

Categories
Family Activity Family Devo Resources

Advent – The Lighting of the Third Candle: Waiting with Joy

The Lighting of the Third Candle should be completed on or around the Third Sunday of Advent. For an introduction to Advent please see our first post: An Introduction to Advent. Also see the Lighting of the First Candle and the Lighting of the Second Candle.

[Re-light the first two purple candles]

We Remember the Meaning of Advent

Advent is a word that means “coming” or “visit.” In the Christian season of Advent we prepare for the “advent” of Christ at Christmas. Our preparation includes many things:

• We remember Israel’s hope for the coming of God’s Messiah to save, to forgive, and to restore.
• We remember our hope for the second coming of Jesus.
• We remember our need for a Savior to save us from our sins.
• We prepare to welcome Christ at Christmas into our world . . . and into our hearts.

By lighting one candle each week of Advent, we help ourselves to get ready for the birth of Jesus. So far we have lit two candles. The first helped us to hope for God our Shepherd; with the second we asked God to come and redeem our lives.

Today we remember the joy of waiting, because we know how the story ends!

Prayer for God’s Help

Dear God, thank you for this season of Advent that helps us to prepare for the coming of Christ at Christmas. As we read the Bible and light a candle, may excitement for Christ’s coming burn in our hearts. Amen.

Scripture Readings

Psalm 126:1–6
This psalm celebrates God’s restoration of Israel — and it cries out to God for future restoration.

Zephaniah 3:14–20
Through the prophet Zephaniah God looks ahead to the time when he will renew and heal his people. It will be a day of great rejoicing, both for them and for God!

Philippians 4:4–7
We also rejoice in the Lord, in part because we know that “the Lord is near.” This means, not only that God is with us right now, but that Christ is coming soon.

Lighting of the Candle

[As someone lights the pink candle, the following should be read or paraphrased.]

We light this candle because, like God’s people centuries ago, we know that God has come in Christ and that Christ will come again. We rejoice in God’s work in history and in the future. The pink color means joy!

Prayer of Hope

Dear God, as we light this candle, we rejoice. We know how the first act of the story ended – with the birth of Jesus the Messiah. And we know that he will come again in glory. So even though the story isn’t over, we rejoice in our hope. We wait for you, rejoicing! Amen!

Closing Song

[To be sung to the tune of “O come let us adore him” from “O Come All Ye Faithful.”]

We wait for you, rejoicing,
We wait for you, rejoicing,
We wait for you, rejoicing,
Christ the Lord!

This Advent Devotional is adapted from Rev. Dr. Mark D. Roberts Advent Devotional Guide.

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Family Activity Family Devo Family Discussion Resources

Hungry, Hungry Thank You’s

Thanksgiving is just around the corner. We want to offer you a game to be more intentional with your family’s faith this holiday season. Start with this simple game designed to help younger children articulate giving thanks. This can be done during any mealtime the whole family is present.

  1. Gather the family together before sitting down for the meal to enjoy a game designed to emphasize why we give thanks.
  2. If you own the game “Hungry, Hungry Hippos,” get it ready. If not, create your own version by placing about 20–30 marbles on a large paper plate or plastic tray. Give each player a spoon with which they will pick up the marbles.
  3. As the children anticipate starting the game, pause and invite the oldest child to read I Thessalonians 5:16–18: “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
  4. Afterwards, ask the following questions:
    What is God’s will for us? (to give thanks)
    Why do we give thanks? (to experience joy)
  5. Tell the children that one of the most important ways we fill our hunger for joy is to give thanks for the blessings God has given.
  6. Now play several rounds of “Hungry, Hungry Hippo” or “Marbles and Spoons” where the children try to gobble or pick up as many as they can. The winner is the person who has the most marbles at the end of the round.
  7. Now, turn each child into a real “winner” by inviting them to share one thing for which they are thankful for each marble they retrieved. Emphasize that the more thanks we give the more our “joy tanks” fill up! Play as many rounds as you can until the meal is ready.
  8. Memorize together: “Giving Thanks—Fills Our Joy Tanks!”
Categories
Family Activity Family Devo Family Discussion Resources

Pumpkin Parable – A Halloween Family Devotional

Every year my wife buys pumpkins to decorate our front porch. Our girls always ask if we can carve the pumpkins but it seems like we never have time. The pumpkins usually get tossed in the trash sometime after Thanksgiving, never realizing their full potential.

This year we vowed to actually carve one, as our six year old insisted that she had never experienced a good ole fashion pumpkin carving. Last night we finally found the time and we sat out on our back porch and carved a pumpkin as a family. We enjoyed a fun evening filled with messy pumpkin insides, laughter, and a finished Jack-O-Lantern for our family to enjoy.

We also wanted to take the opportunity and use this time to teach our girls about God. Here is a great devotional that you can do with your family while turning that lonely little pumpkin sitting on your porch into something your family will be proud of. I hope you enjoy this devotional as much as our family did. More than anything, I hope you enjoy spending time with one another and being intentional about passing along your faith to your children!

Advance Preparation

Make sure you have the following on hand.
A large pumpkin and carving utensils
A small candle and matches
A Bible

Follow these steps for a great experience

1. Conduct a typical pumpkin carving activity, but use each step as part of the overall “pumpkin parable” by adding Bible reading and questions.

2. First, have the children help with the clean out portion of the carving – reaching their hand into the open pumpkin to pull out seeds and other “gunk” that will feel yucky to their hands.

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3. Pause to read Matthew 23:25-28 and ask the children how the inside “gunk” is like our sin (yucky, smelly, etc.).

4. Once you have cleaned out the pumpkin, read Revelation 3:20 together and explain that confessing our sins enables God to take away the “yuck” of our sinful hearts.

5. Now draw and carve a happy face (not a scary face) on the pumpkin. Then read 2 Corinthians 5:17 and/or Ephesians 2:10 and explain that Jesus wants to make us into a “new creation” – just as the pumpkin filled with yuck became a jack-o-lantern with a joy-filled face.

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6. Now read Matthew 5:14-16 while lighting and inserting a candle into the jack-o-lantern and turn down the lights to show how God wants to use us to shine His light, even on what is normally a dark and scary night.

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Family Activity Resources

Resurrection Rolls – Celebrate the Resurrection

I’m sure you will share the joy with your children today as you hide and hunt Easter eggs all over the beautiful Tyler landscape, but in addition to engaging in this time honored Easter pastime, why not also remind your children the real meaning of this most-important Christian holiday? Here is a fun way to remind your family why we celebrate Easter!

Absolutely delightful, Resurrection Rolls are buttery, cinnamon sugary crescent rolls. Does it get much better than that? In addition to tasting wonderful, the making of these Easter treats also tells the historical account of the Resurrection, making the story come to life for your family. Though many families use this activity on Easter Sunday, my family spent one night this week baking and getting ready for the big day! Even my teenagers (and soon-to-be teenagers), thoroughly enjoyed this activity!

Here is what you will need:

1 Can of Pillsbury Crescent Rolls
1 Bag Marshmallows
Cinnamon-Sugar Mix
Melted Butter (a few tablespoons)

You’ll also need these baking items:

Cookie Sheet to Bake Resurrection Rolls
Large Cutting Board to Assemble Rolls
A Wooden Spoon to Mark Nail Prints

Directions

This is where the art of baking and reading will combine into a powerful resurrection history for your kids, and really your entire family! So often we call it “The Easter Story” but truly, the Resurrection is not merely a story. Keep in mind: these events really happened! So, help make these real events come to life for your family. If you really want to make this experience meaningful, read through both the directions on making Resurrection Rolls and the entire scriptures. This will give you and your family an idea of what you are doing and how it fits with the biblical account of Jesus’ Resurrection. If you can think of additional scriptures, by all means, use them as well.

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We began by preheating the oven to 375 degrees. As the oven was warming, we had plenty of time to read John 19 together and begin to assemble the Resurrection Rolls. Here are the steps we followed:

Assemble everything you need: food ingredients, cookie sheet, and Bible. Lay these items out on the counter; you will need all of them. And I have learned something over the years of cooking with my children—it is best to have everything laid out beforehand, because when the action begins, it gets really CHAOTIC!
Gather the family around and read John 19 just after you turn the oven on.
Break open the can of crescent rolls, and as you slam it against the side of the counter, remind everyone that Jesus was beaten for our sins.

Unroll the crescent rolls, and divide them into four different triangles. Remind everyone that Jesus’ clothing was divided into four.
Examine the dough, and remind everyone that Jesus was wrapped in a cloth. Separate it into eight rectangles.
Give each family member a marshmallow, and explain that the marshmallow represents Jesus—white and pure because He had no sin.
Roll each marshmallow in melted butter, which symbolizes the embalming oils.
Roll each marshmallow in cinnamon and sugar mixture, which are like the spices used to prepare His body for burial. Make seven, leaving one crescent roll plain.

Place each buttered/cinnamon-sugared marshmallow in the center of a crescent roll triangle. Roll dough around the marshmallow, smoothing and pinching it completely together. If you do not do this well, the marshmallow will ooze out while cooking (I’m speaking from experience!).

ressurection-rolls-2

Take one crescent roll wrapped in marshmallow, and dip it into the butter. Then, dip it into the cinnamon sugary mixture. This represents the stone that was rolled away.

Put the rolls into the “tomb” oven and bake them for about 15 minutes, until golden brown.
While the rolls were baking, we read John 20:1–18. This was a great occasion to remember how each cooking element represented another part of the story.

Open the tomb and remove the rolls. Note how the stone has rolled away from the rolls. (It really will look this way!) When cool enough to handle, break one open and discover what happened to the pure, white marshmallow. Jesus is gone; He is risen!
Now, read I Thessalonians 4:16–18 and share that Jesus is coming again!

ressurection-rolls-1
I hope your family has a great time baking, reading, and remembering the story of Easter together. I know some families who get the rolls ready to cook the night before Easter, put them in the oven, turn the oven on early in the morning before the children wake up, and experience the “Resurrection” on Easter morning. We made ours a bit early. Either way, this is a great and fun way to help your family concentrate on the real meaning of Easter…and it doesn’t hurt that you get to eat some really tasty treats!

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Family Activity Family Devo Family Discussion Resources

The Day Death Died – A Good Friday Family Devo

My oldest daughter is excited about missing school on Good Friday. In the car on the way to school she asked. “What is Good Friday?” I took the opportunity to briefly explain the significance of Good Friday and what it means for us as Christians, but I wasn’t satisfied with my short explanation. So I decided to do it right and plan a special Good Friday family devotional to further explain to both my children. Please feel free to take what I have prepared here and share it with your children.

Overview:

The action of Jesus dying on the cross is very complex. Sometimes I feel it is too complex for us humans (or at least myself) to fully understand everything that is going on at the cross. Instead of trying to explain it all in this family devotional—and thus lose my children in the process—I decided to focus on Jesus’ defeat of evil, powers and authorities (Colossians 2:15).

Most of us, including Jesus’ disciples, believe the way to defeat your enemies is to kill them before they can kill you. This is traditionally how battles are won. Jesus, however, didn’t do it that way. He taught the opposite telling us to love our enemies and pray for them. Jesus put this into action on the cross and submitted himself to death at the hands of his enemies. At the time, Jesus disciples (who thought a lot like we do) saw this as His, and their, own defeat. It was so backward to what they knew and understood that they couldn’t see until later how it was actually the defeat of evil and death itself.

Activity:

To explain this to your children lead them through this simple activity. Have everyone in your family take turns trying to trace the shape of a cross while only looking in a mirror. Place a picture of a cross on a table in front of a mirror. Ask one member of your family to trace the picture, while another member holds a folder above their hands so they can’t peek.

Supplies you will need:

  • A Mirror (We used a small decorative mirror that we propped up on our kitchen table. You can probably use your bathroom mirror and trace on top the bathroom counter.)
  • Markers
  • A folder or piece of cardboard about the size of a sheet of paper.
  • A print out of a cross Download one here
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    It is very difficult to trace the shape of the cross while only looking in the mirror. I asked both my girls to try while the other held the folder above their work. As they traced I heard my daughters saying things like “Am I going up or down?” and “I’m trying to think because the mirror is in reverse.” After they traced the cross in the mirror I gave them a different colored marker and asked them to trace the same cross without the folder blocking their view.

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    Lesson:

    After both my children had tried their best I began to explain Jesus’ actions on the cross.

    I Asked:

    What was hard about tracing the cross in the mirror?

    Which felt more natural, looking in the mirror, or looking directly at the paper?

    How do you win a battle against an enemy army?

    I then explained, the best I could, how what Jesus did on the cross was a lot like tracing in the mirror. It is backward from the way we think it should be. Typically battles are won by outlasting, or surviving longer than the enemy. If you want to win you have to kill them before they kill you. Jesus did it backwards, instead of killing his enemy, he allowed them to kill him first. The only difference is Jesus didn’t stay dead.

    I then asked:

    How hard do you think it would be to defeat an enemy that won’t stay dead?

    I explained that is how Jesus “disarmed” all the power in the world. Bad guys only have power over people because they can threaten to hurt or kill them. Through the cross and resurrection, Jesus took away their greatest weapon—the ability to kill. He even promised his followers would one day be resurrected just as he has been (1 Corinthians 15:12–32). This was the ultimate victory. How can you defeat an army that won’t stay dead?