Archive | October, 2013

Teaching Like Jesus

23 Oct

Salt. Light. Coin. Vine. Sower. Immediately pictures pop into our minds followed closely by the connection Jesus made linking these objects to his teachings. Through the use of objects that were common to people’s everyday lives, Jesus taught in a way that we remember. If we are to teach like Jesus, using objects while teaching should be a common event. In his teaching, Jesus’ use of stories and everyday items helped people better understand spiritual concepts.

Object lessons are the modern equivalent to how Jesus taught. These lessons are meant to create an emotional connection to an abstract concept. The object lesson can be used to either pique the children’s curiosity and interest or to drive home the point taught. When done correctly, an object lesson will create an “aha” moment where the light bulb will go off in a child’s head.

When looking for an object lesson, keep it be simple yet interesting. The link between the object and the point should be clearly understood without having to explain every nuance. Stories about real people doing real things make kids sit up and listen. Science experiments that pop, sizzle or bang in surprise endings have a great wow factor. Common items used in uncommon ways etch into kid’s minds memories that will be recalled when they see the item again.

One type of object lesson is a real life story. The stories can come from personal experiences, famous people’s lives or kids’ lives. They can be found in conversations, news events, or books. A teacher must just get into the thought pattern of recognizing when some story will “teach” a concept. One hard to forget real life story was found while was watching Ronald Regan’s funeral.

Real Life Story: President Ronald Regan

President Reagan was in the hospital healing from when he had been shot. One day his Vice President walked in the room to find him on his hands and knees wiping up water. The Vice President said, “Mr. President, they’ll take care of that.” He meant that the people at the hospital would clean it up. All President Reagan had to do was call them and they would hurry in. But the President said, “No, no, if they come in and see it the nurse will be blamed for it. I don’t want the nurse to be blamed. She didn’t do it. I did.”

When I heard the story, it clicked in my head what a humble man President Reagan was. Every child had spilled something in their lives. If the President of the United States of America could be humble enough to clean up his own mess, surely they could too.

Another type of an object lesson is using a common item in an uncommon way. These lessons can easily be found on the internet, in object lesson books or just looking around for fun objects in toy stores, garage sales or in your own home. Many times a good way to tell an object lesson is to hide it in a treasure chest or a bag. Give the kids clues as to what the object might be, allowing them to guess after each clue. Once they have guessed or the clues have been exhausted, pull out the object and teach the lesson.

Valentine Heart Object Lesson

sm treasure chest
Supplies: Treasure chest, Valentine’s Day heart box with a small amount of dirt placed inside the box

(Place the heart box in the treasure chest before class. Give the children clues as to what is in the box. Once they guess, pull the heart box out. ) True obedience comes from the heart. This heart (show the heart box) is pretty. It looks like it is an obedient heart. We can look like we are obeying but be really mad inside (open the heart to see dirt). Even though the outside of the heart was pretty, inside it was full of dirt. When our hearts are like this, full of grumbling or anger, we are not really obeying. God wants us to have obedient hearts. He wants us to obey not just with our actions but with our attitudes.

Finally another type of object lesson that creates oohs and aahs are ones based on science experiments. The teacher does not have to be a scientist or even like science to be able to do a simple experiment that will captivate kid’s attention. This is a great introduction to a subject. Science object lessons can be found in books, on the internet and at River’s Edge Curriculum .

Crushing an Empty Can

Supplies: 2-3 liter sauce pan, pair of kitchen tongs, hot plate, water, soda pop can

Fill the pan with cold water. Put 1 tablespoon of water into the empty soda pop can. Heat the can over the hot plate, holding the can with the tongs. When the water begins to boil, a cloud of vapor will escape from the can. Let the water boil for 30 seconds. Quickly turn the can upside down and put it into the water in the pan. The can will collapse.

It seemed impossible that a can be crushed by using water. It reminds us of God’s power. He is omnipotent which means He is all powerful. He has the power to accomplish seemingly impossible things. (Psalm 147:5)

Mentos Fountain

mento and coke
Supplies: Roll of Mentos, bottle of Diet Coke

(Drop as many pieces of mentos into the bottle of Diet Coke as possible. Be quick. A fountain of soda pop will fizz out of the bottle almost immediately. Do experiment outside!)

We can act like a volcano when we do not control our anger. Just like the soda erupted from the bottle, we can erupt with mean words when we are angry. When this happens we hurt people’s feelings. We can damage friendships and other relationships. One way to keep from blowing up when we are angry is to spend time with God every day praying and reading His word. When we are putting good things inside of us it keeps us from erupting in anger and sinning in our anger. (Ephesians 4:26)
(Note: Geyser tube can be purchased from which will make this experiment easier and the fountain spurt higher.)

Try something new the next time you teach. Think about creative ways you can incorporate a science object lesson, a real life story or a common item used in an uncommon way into your lesson. Captivate a crowd of kids while burying a spiritual truth deep in each child’s heart.

9 Creative Book Ideas for Families

22 Oct

When my children were preschoolers they especially loved to read certain books over and over again. When reading Hop on Pop, I would have to pause for the ritual of running and jumping on their dad until I would yell, “Stop, you must not hop on pop.” A breakfast of green eggs and ham always topped off the first reading of the book by the same name and of course we could never read Where the Wild Things Are without turning on music and dancing around the room like monsters. Books have a way of weaving themselves into kid’s lives and if you allow it, family life.

Make sure you take the time to create warm, fun and memorable moments with good books.

Not only does reading books create memories, they are a natural way to connect with kids spiritually. Jesus knew the power of a story and used them frequently when teaching.

Try some of these ideas from Dr. Seuss and the Bible and our Pinterest board.

  1. Read Where the Wild Things Are. Talk about the consequences of dishonoring your parent. Make a fun “wild thing” mask out of paper plate, scraps of construction paper and a stick.

wild things mask

2. Transform a closet into a reading area.

2 pink closet

Thanks to

2 star book room

Thanks to

3. Build a reading nook with a hula hoop and some material.


Thanks to

4. Throw a Dr. Seuss Book Party.

dr seuss party

Thanks to

5. Use ideas from The Little Red Hen to teach kids about cooperation.

little red hen book

little red hen

6.  Make a Llama puppet out of a sock. Use it when reading one of the Llama, Llama stories written by Anna Dowdney. Have the child act out how the llama acts. Dialogue about whether the actions are right or wrong. For the wrong actions, have the child act out the right choice.



7.  Use The Rainbow Fish to teach kids about sharing. —— ideas can be found here.

rainbow fish

8.  Download the parent e-book with ideas on using six different books to teach spiritual concepts.

dr seuss e book

9.  Read The Grouchy Ladybug by Eric Carle. Make a ladybug puppet to act out the way a grouchy person acts. Use the ladybug puppet to act out how the other ladybug (not the grouchy one) was patient with the grouchy ladybug.

lady bug

Monday Mornings: For the One Who Was Hurt by the Church People

21 Oct

If I could sit across the table from you, sipping my Vanilla White Chocolate Mocha, I would tell you that I’m so sorry. And I would listen to your story. Your disappointment. Your hurt. Your brokenness.

I would growl a time or two as you spoke the words of pain. Church people can be so mean. And when they are that mean. . . please know that they are nothing like Jesus.

And sometimes Church People can just be stupid. Self-centered. Thoughtless. Self-seeking. Graceless. Nothing like Jesus.

I might cringe a time or two- thinking of an occasion or two or more- when I was stupid. Or unkind. Or lacking grace. I would wonder who I might have hurt- unintentionally- but hurt just the same.

I would hope that as I sat across the table I would show compassion. Much like Jesus looked at those who crossed his path. The woman at the well. The rich man. Those who needed to be healed.

And I would tell you that right now it feels like this will last forever. It won’t. One day it will be different.


Perhaps you will be sitting in a parking lot of the church office. You won’t be able to open the van door to get out and make your way into your own office. You will sit with tears streaming down your face and you will pray something like this: I love these people so much, Jesus. But you don’t know what they are saying about me. You just don’t understand. How can they say that about me? He will softly whisper, “I know. Do you know what they say about me?”  The tears will dry up quick. You realize He does know.

And so you will get out of the van and walk into the office and up the stairs.

You will be told you have lost the spring in your step-that you are no longer so full of life as you once were. You will try everything you have within you to find it. You will dig deep. You will pray hard. You will fast. You will immerse yourself in Scripture. You will do all the right things. And still. This.

And you will just keep putting one foot in front of the other.

One day you might find yourself at another church. Called to another job. And you will be excited and scared all at the same time. You will still guard your heart while you go on ministering. Doing what He has called you to do. As the months pass by, you might find that slowly you are beginning to let down the boundaries you built up around you. You might find that you laugh easier.

And one day as you walk down the hall you realize that you have that spring in your step again.

You won’t know when it happened. You just know it is there. You realize that you love what you do again. You find yourself pulled up to a huge table- the Pope table- at Buca’s with your team sitting around you honoring you. As you glance around the table you realize that you are completely full of LIFE again. These people. This.

And you will walk away that day realizing that you will risk your heart again for the Church People.


I would tell you that it might be a long journey of forgiveness. Or it might come quickly. That grace might flood your entire hurt in one moment. But possibly it will come slowly. One piece at a time. In unexpected ways until your heart is whole again and bursting with all the reasons you once were called to this job, this vocation, this ministry, this LIFE.

One day it will be different. Until then. . . may you find grace for each moment.