Conversation Starters: Defending the Faith

IMG_0120THE BIBLE MEETS LIFE: Everybody faces difficulties, and we all experience suffering. There are no exceptions. The difference comes in how we handle suffering. When we keep Christ at the center of our lives—regardless of the circumstances—people notice the difference. One of the best ways to offer a defense of the Christian faith is letting others see Christ sustain us through difficult times.

Concept: Defending the Faith 

Preschool

Acts 21:27- 22:29

LIFE POINT: Paul had returned to Jerusalem. He went to the temple to worship. People who did not like Paul saw him. They became angry and grabbed Paul. Soldiers came to keep the people from hurting Paul. They wondered why the people wanted to hurt Paul. They took Paul away. Paul asked to speak to the people first. He stood on the steps of the temple and said, “I am a Jewish man like you. I once hated people who believed in Jesus and tried to hurt them. Jesus appeared to me, and now I understand that He is the Son of God.” The people got angry again, and the soldiers protected Paul and took him to safety.

LIVE IT OUT: Help your child remember that God is with her all the time. Remind her when you put her to bed, when you drive in the car, when you sit down to a meal.

Kids

Acts 21:27- 22:29

LIFE POINT: Paul had returned to Jerusalem. He went to the temple to worship. People who did not like Paul saw him. They became angry and grabbed Paul. Soldiers came to keep the people from hurting Paul. They wondered why the people wanted to hurt Paul. They took Paul away. Paul asked to speak to the people first. He stood on the steps of the temple and said, “I am a Jewish man like you. I once hated people who believed in Jesus and tried to hurt them. Jesus appeared to me, and now I understand that He is the Son of God.” The people got angry again, and the soldiers protected Paul and took him to safety.

LIVE IT OUT: Help your child think of a situation when he might need to speak up for God. Role-play some statements he could use in that situation. Pray together for his courage in that situation.

Students

1 Peter 3:13-16; 4:1-2

THE POINT: Suffering brings opportunities to point to Jesus. How has God used suffering in your life to help others see Him? Have a conversation around this quote:

“Faith is a living, daring confidence in God’s grace, so sure and certain that the believer would stake his life on it a thousand times.”1 —Martin Luther

LIVE IT OUT: Your student has been encouraged to do one or both Live It Out activities.

If your student chooses to do Be Challenged:
•Encourage your student to find the person that can help challenge him or her to grow spiritually.

If your student chooses to do What I Believe:
•Ask your student if he or she wants help in formulating his or her reasons to believe.
•Pray for your student as he or she thinks through his or her faith.

1. Martin Luther, Martin Luther’s Basic Theological Writings, ed. Timothy F. Lull and William R. Russell, (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2012).

Conversation Starters: Creation

DSC_7791THE BIBLE MEETS LIFE: The debate about the origin of the universe has been around for a long time. Did all this happen by chance, or was a Master Designer responsible? More and more scientists are embracing the theory that an Intelligent Designer was behind the universe, even if they don’t understand completely what that means. The Bible gives us a clear picture of the One behind the creation of the universe and how to have a relationship with Him.

Concept: Creation 

Preschool

Psalm 104:1-5, 24-31

LIFE POINT: The Bible has many songs about God. These are called psalms. One song talks about God and some of the things He did. These are some of the words from this song to God. ”I praise You, God. You are very great, majestic, and beautiful. Your presence lights up heaven and earth. You created everything. You made the land and sea. You placed the sun, moon, and stars in the sky. You told the mountains where to rise and the trees where to grow. You placed birds in the sky and fish in the sea. You provide food for all of the animals. You care for every living creature. God, I praise You. May Your glory last forever!”

LIVE IT OUT: Ask your child to name a favorite animal. Emphasize that God created that animal. Sing a simple praise song thanking God for His creation.

Kids

Psalm 104:1-5, 24-31

LIFE POINT: The Bible has many songs about God. These are called psalms. One song talks about God and some of the things He did. These are some of the words from this song to God. ”I praise You, God. You are very great, majestic, and beautiful. Your presence lights up heaven and earth. You created everything. You made the land and sea. You placed the sun, moon, and stars in the sky. You told the mountains where to rise and the trees where to grow. You placed birds in the sky and fish in the sea. You provide food for all of the animals. You care for every living creature. God, I praise You. May Your glory last forever!”

LIVE IT OUT: Discuss with your child something she enjoys doing outdoors in God’s creation. Ask her to explain what she enjoys most about being outdoors. Encourage her to thank God in different ways—praying, singing, writing a poem.

Students

Psalm 104:1-5, 24-30

THE POINT: Everything in creation is the work of the God who loves us. In what ways does creation show God’s love for us? Have a conversation around this quote:

“All I have seen teaches me to trust the Creator for all I have not seen.”1 —Ralph Waldo Emerson

LIVE IT OUT: Your student has been encouraged to do one or both Live It Out activities.

If your student chooses to do Thankful for Creation:
•Have a discussion with your student about the things you are thankful for in God’s creation.
•Encourage your student as he or she determines the things he or she is thankful for.

If your student chooses to do God’s Love Shared:
•Pray for your student to be ready to share his or her faith at all times.
•Encourage your student to share God’s love with others.

1. Ralph Waldo Emerson, Works of Ralph Waldo Emerson, (London: George Routledge and Sons, 1883), 502.

Conversation Starters: Hope in Jesus

IMG_0195-001THE BIBLE MEETS LIFE: We refer to hope in a lot of different ways, but such hope is often little more than a desire or a wish. We hope for a winning season. We hope our vacation is relaxing this summer. The Bible offers a different perspective on hope, one that is far greater and far more certain. Biblical hope is grounded in the same thing as biblical faith: Jesus Christ.

Concept: Hope in Jesus 

Preschool

Acts 9:10-16, 20-22

LIFE POINT: Ananias was a follower of Jesus. One day God called to him, “Ananias!” “Here I am, Lord,” Ananias replied. “Go to a street called Straight and find a man named Saul, who is praying there,” God said. “He has seen you in a vision coming to help him.” Ananias replied, “I know about Saul. He wants to hurt people who love Jesus.” God said, “Go. Help him. I will use this man to tell people about My Son, Jesus.” So Ananias went to find Saul. Saul had been blinded by a bright light. Ananias put his hands on Saul, and Saul could see again. Saul stayed in the city and told everyone he met about Jesus, the Son of God.

LIVE IT OUT: Talk to your child about ways to show he loves Jesus. Decide on one way your family can show love and do it together.

Kids

Acts 9:19-31

LIFE POINT: Saul’s life changed when Jesus appeared to him on the road to Damascus. Saul spent his days telling others about Jesus. The followers of Jesus, and others, remembered how Saul had been. Many Jews did not believe that Jesus was the Messiah. Some of them wanted to kill Saul. They tried to catch Saul as he left. But during the night, Saul’s friends lowered him in a basket through an opening in the wall. He hurried to Jerusalem. Barnabas helped Saul by explaining that Jesus had spoken to Saul and how Jesus changed Saul’s life forever. Saul traveled from place to place telling others about Jesus even though more people plotted to kill him. The church was growing.

LIVE IT OUT: If your child has accepted Jesus, talk about how she has changed since she became a Christian. Tell her to make a list of the ways her life has changed. Remind her that she needs to continue to grow and change as a Christian, just as she grows as a child.

Students

1 Peter 1:3-9, 13

THE POINT: Our faith is focused in hope in Christ. How are faith and hope related? How does focusing on the hope we have in Jesus help our faith? Have a conversation around this quote:

“In faith there is enough light for those who want to believe and enough shadows to blind those who don’t.”1 —Blaise Pascal

LIVE IT OUT: Pray for your student to focus on the hope we have in Jesus Christ.

1. Alister E. McGrath, Doubting: Growing Through the Uncertainties of Faith, (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2006), 55.

 

Betsie’s First Experience at Crestridge

We recently saw a blog post that one of our parents posted about their daughter’s first experience at Crestridge this past summer. Betsie attended Starter Camp at the end of the summer and could not stop talking about her time at camp! Her best friend was able to attend as well and it’s safe to say their friendship was strengthened.

We love hearing how God uses Crestridge and Ridgecrest to grow these campers! Read more about Betsie’s experience from a parent’s perspective…
http://www.our-everyday.com/2014/09/chippewa.html

Conversation Starters: God’s Wisdom

DSC_2021THE BIBLE MEETS LIFE: We live in an age of information. It is estimated that we will generate more unique information this year than was generated in the last five thousand years. And most of that knowledge is at our fingertips. Over four billion online searches are made every day. But are we any wiser? Do we know how to wisely use that knowledge? Technology cannot deliver to us what God can. God is the source of wisdom, and the Bible shows us that by trusting Him, we become wise.

Concept: God’s Wisdom 

Preschool

Daniel 1:1-20

LIFE POINT: Daniel and his friends had been taken to be trained as king’s helpers. They
loved, worshiped, and obeyed God. The king ordered all of the boys to eat from his table. Daniel knew that it would not please God. So he asked a helper if he and his friends could eat vegetables and drink water instead. The helper was worried that he would be in trouble. “Let us eat vegetables and drink water for 10 days. See if we are healthy then,” Daniel said. The helper agreed. After 10 days, Daniel and his friends were healthier
than the other boys. At the training’s end, the king saw they were the best of all the young men.

LIVE IT OUT: Explain the word wisdom to your child and say that God is wise. Comment that God uses His wisdom to help us know how to live. Together make a list of things he knows God wants him to do.

Kids

Daniel 1:1-20

THE POINT: Daniel and his friends had been taken to be trained as king’s helpers. They
loved, worshiped, and obeyed God. The king ordered all of the boys to eat from his table. Daniel knew that it would not please God. So he asked a helper if he and his friends could eat vegetables and drink water instead. The helper was worried that he would be in trouble. “Let us eat vegetables and drink water for 10 days. See if we are healthy then,” Daniel said. The helper agreed. After 10 days, Daniel and his friends were healthier
than the other boys. At the training’s end, the king saw they were the best of
all the young men.

Students

Proverbs 2:1-6; 3:5-7

THE POINT: God will give me wisdom when I humbly seek it. Who is the wisest person you know? How do you typically seek wisdom? Have a conversation around this quote:

“Wisdom, among other things, is the ability to devise perfect ends and to achieve those ends by the most perfect means.”1 —A.W. Tozer

LIVE IT OUT: Your student has been encouraged to do one or both Live It Out
activities.

If your student chooses to do Seek Wisdom:
• Help your student identify key Bible verses for wisdom in different areas of life.
• Encourage your student to reflect on the verses he or she chooses.

If your student chooses to do Scripture Strategy:
• Determine to use the same plan as your student to read through the Bible this year.
• Pray for your student to develop a passion for the Word of God.

1. A.W. Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy, (Figbooks, 2012), 66.

Conversation Starters: God’s Love

IMG_9812-001THE BIBLE MEETS LIFE: For many people, love means whatever they want it to mean. They can express a deep and profound love for someone or something, but later that love has disappeared. Too often our examples of love disappoint or fail us. We see in God a whole different example of love. He is the very embodiment of love. The Bible shows us that we can know and experience that love through Jesus Christ.

Concept: God’s Love

Preschool

2 Kings 5:1-17

LIFE POINT: Naaman was a military commander. He had a skin disease. A servant girl of
Naaman’s wife said, “The prophet Elisha can help Naaman.” Naaman traveled to Elisha. Elisha sent a messenger who said to wash in the river seven times. Naaman was angry. “Why didn’t the prophet come out and help me? Don’t we have better rivers in our country?” Naaman’s helpers said, “If Elisha told you to do something hard, you would do it. Why won’t you wash yourself in the river?” Naaman went to the river. On the seventh wash, he was healed. Naaman returned to Elisha. “Thank you. Now I know that God is the
only God.”

LIVE IT OUT: Tell your child that God loves everyone. Help your preschooler think of some friends he likes. Make small treat bags to give to his friends. Pray with him for these friends.

Kids

2 Kings 5:1-17

LIFE POINT: Naaman was a soldier. He had a terrible skin disease. A servant girl of Naaman’s wife said, “The prophet Elisha can help Naaman.” Naaman went to Elisha, but
Elisha sent a servant with a message, “Wash yourself seven times in the Jordan River.” Naaman was angry. “Why didn’t the prophet come out and help me? Don’t we have better rivers in our country?” Naaman’s servants said, “If Elisha told you to do something hard, you would do it. Why won’t you go to the Jordan River?” Naaman washed in the water seven times. On the seventh wash, the skin disease was gone! Naaman returned to
Elisha. “There is no God except the God of Israel,” Naaman exclaimed to Elisha.

LIVE IT OUT: Talk to your child and help him think of a friend or relative who is ill.
Pray together for that person. Emphasize that, even though God is able to heal
everyone, sometimes He does not. Thank God for His love for all people.

Students

1 John 4:7-12

THE POINT: God’s love empowers me to love. Discuss the way your family shows
love and how, empowered by Christ, it might improve. Pray as a family to be more loving.
Have a conversation around this quote:

“Define yourself radically as one beloved by God. This is the true self. Every other
identity is illusion.”1 —Brennan Manning

LIVE IT OUT: Your student has been encouraged to do one or both Live It Out activities.

If your student chooses to do Show Love:
• Encourage your student as he or she determines to whom he or she might extend God’s love this week.
• Pray that your student will grow in love for God and others.

If your student chooses to do Love Grid:
• Ask your student if he or she would like help determining areas in which to be more loving.
• Encourage your student as he or she discovers ways to experience and show God’s love.

1. Brennan Manning, Abba’s Child: The Cry of the Heart for Intimate Belonging, (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 2002).

Conversation Starters: God’s Justice

DSC_0104THE BIBLE MEETS LIFE: When we are wronged by others, our typical response is to call for justice. However, when we are the ones who have committed the wrong, we want mercy. We demand fairness, but we define fairness based on what we want. God is fair, in that His justice holds everyone equally accountable for their actions. God is completely just, but He is also merciful, showing mercy to those who choose to turn to Him.

Concept:God’s Justice

Preschool

Daniel 3

LIFE POINT: King Nebuchadnezzar made a statue. The people were told to worship the statue whenever music played or they would be thrown into a fire. Daniel’s friends Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were helpers of the king. They only worshiped God. Other helpers told the king about them. The king threatened to throw them into the fire. They said, “God can save us; even if He doesn’t, we will not worship the statue.” They were thrown in the fire. The king looked in the fire and saw the three friends and someone else. When the three friends came out, they were not burned! The king knew God had saved them.

LIVE IT OUT: Explain that God is fair and just. Ask your child to split a treat with you. Remind her to divide the treat fairly.

Kids

Daniel 3

LIFE POINT: King Nebuchadnezzar made a statue. The people were told to bow down and worship the statue whenever music played or they would be thrown into a fire. Daniel’s friends Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were helpers of the king. They only worshiped God. Other helpers told the king about them. The king threatened to throw them into the fire. They said, “God can save us; even if He doesn’t, we will not worship the statue.” They were thrown in the fire. The king looked in the fire and saw the three friends and someone else. When they came out, they were not burned! The king knew God had saved them.

LIVE IT OUT: Discuss the word righteous. Can people be righteous? Comment that only God is righteous. Make an acrostic using the word righteous. As a family think of words that describe God.

Students

Ezekiel 18:21-24, 30-32

THE POINT: God is always just. How do you deal with guilt? Discuss with your student how people and God tend to view justice differently. Have a conversation around this quote:

“Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just: that his justice cannot sleep forever.”1 —Thomas Jefferson

LIVE IT OUT: Your student has been encouraged to do one or both Live It Out activities. If your student chooses to do Attack Guilt:

•Pray for your student to seek and accept God’s forgiveness and mercy.
•Remind your student that he or she is guiltless because of Christ’s sacrifice.

If your student chooses to do Struggle Together:
•Encourage your student to find a friend to help him or her face struggles.
•Let your student know you are also always available to help.

1. Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia, Query XVIII: Manners, 1781.

Conversation Starters: God’s Holiness

IMG_9818-001THE BIBLE MEETS LIFE: Every culture has some religious element, but each culture tries to make God in its own image. That god tends not to be too different from the people who worship it; there is nothing unique about their god. We desperately need a God who is beyond us…and beyond our ability to fully explain or understand Him. God is holy—completely separate from His creation—yet He calls us to know Him and walk with Him.

Concept: God’s Holiness

Preschool

Isaiah 6-7

LIFE POINT: Isaiah was a prophet who told people important news from God. One day when he was in the temple, he saw God seated on a throne surrounded by angels. The angels praised God, “Holy is God. His glory fills the earth.” Isaiah remembered his wrong choices. An angel told him God had forgiven him. Then God asked, “Who will go and speak for Me?” Isaiah said, “Here I am. Send me.” God said, “Tell the people they have not listened to Me. They do not worship Me. Tell them to make right choices and I will help them. If they continue making wrong choices, I will punish them.” Isaiah did what God told him.

LIVE IT OUT: Explain that God is special and no one is like Him. Help your preschooler learn some simple praise songs to praise God for His holiness.

Kids

Isaiah 6-7

LIFE POINT: One day when Isaiah was in the temple, God showed him a vision. In the vision God was seated on a throne, surrounded by angels. They praised God, “Holy is God. The earth is full of God’s glory!” Isaiah realized how holy God is and knew he did not deserve to stand before God. An angel flew to Isaiah and touched his mouth with coal from the altar. God said, “Who should I send? Who will go for Us?” Isaiah said, “Here I am. Send me.” God gave Isaiah messages to preach to the people and the king. Isaiah said, “Turn back to God or your nation will be destroyed.” God gave Isaiah another message. “God will give you a sign,” Isaiah said. “He will send a special child.”

LIVE IT OUT: Gather as a family and choose a favorite praise song. Sing the song together to praise God for being holy.

Students

Psalm 99:1-9, Isaiah 6-7

THE POINT: God’s holiness calls me to be holy. Have a discussion with your student about holiness. How can we help each other pursue holiness as a family? Have a conversation around this quote:

“A true love of God must begin with a delight in his holiness.”1—Jonathan Edwards

LIVE IT OUT: Your student has been encouraged to do one or both Live It Out activities.

If your student chooses to do Personal Worship:
•Encourage your student to find a time this week to set aside for personal worship.
•Choose to have a personal worship time this week and discuss it with your student.

If your student chooses to do Be Holy:
•Pray for your student to evaluate the different areas of his or her life regarding the pursuit of holiness.
•Ask your student if there is any way you can help him or her this week with this Live It Out.

1. Jonathan Edwards, The Works of Jonathan Edwards, Vol. 1. Avon: The Bath Press, 1834.

Conversation Starters: God is With Us

DSC_1849THE BIBLE MEETS LIFE: Third graders everywhere dream of becoming veterinarians, doctors, presidents, and maybe even superheroes. At their age, the sky is the limit and it’s always OK to hope for a better tomorrow. We all need hope. That’s universal. But there is an even greater universal truth: hope is possible. Through Jesus, no matter who we are, what season of life we’re in, or how we feel, we are not beyond hope.

Concept: God is With Us

Preschool

2 Samuel 9:1-13

LIFE POINT: David was king of Israel. He remembered Saul, the king before him, and Saul’s son Jonathan. Because of Jonathan, David wanted to show kindness to any members of Saul’s family. Jonathan had been David’s good friend. David learned that Jonathan’s son, Mephibosheth, was still living. Mephibosheth had two hurt feet. David sent for him. David said to Mephibosheth, “Do not be afraid. I will show you kindness because of your father, Jonathan. I will give you back your family fields. You will eat at my table every day.” David had servants work the fields for food. Mephibosheth ate with David every day. Mephibosheth had hope because David had shown him kindness.

LIVE IT OUT: Take your child with you to the grocery and allow him to choose items to be donated to a food pantry in your community. Together, choose a verse from the Bible and write it on labels to attach to each food item to be shared. Talk with your child about how God gives hope and how your family can help.

Kids

2 Samuel 9

LIFE POINT: David: Is anyone of Saul’s family left? I want to show kindness to that person. Ziba: There is Saul’s grandson. His name is Mephibosheth. Both his feet are injured. David: Bring him to me. Mephibosheth (bowing down): My king, I am your servant. David: Do not be afraid. I will show you kindness because of your father, Jonathan. I will give your grandfather’s land back to you. You shall always eat here at my table in the palace. Mephibosheth: I don’t know why you would help someone like me. David: Ziba, you will take care of Saul’s lands for Mephibosheth.

LIVE IT OUT: As a family, identify someone who has faced struggles over the past few weeks or months. Decide on a way your family can secretly encourage that person by performing a random act of kindness.

Students

2 Samuel 9:6-13

THE POINT: You are never beyond hope. Tell your student what you are most hopeful for in his or her life. Ask your student what he or she is most hopeful for in his or her future. Have a conversation around this quote:

“Oft hope is born when all is forlorn.”1 —J.R.R. Tolkien

LIVE IT OUT: Your student has been encouraged to do one or both Live It
Out activities. If your student chooses to do Visual Journal:
• Ask your student to journal times in their life when they felt without hope.
• Pray for your student to live in the new hope Christ provides each day.

If your student chooses to do Forgive Yourself :
• Share a regret you have had with your student and how you are trusting Christ to overcome it.
• Encourage your student with the truth that hope is always available
through a relationship with Jesus.

1. J.R.R. Tolkien. The Return of the King. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012. http://books.google.com (19 July 2013).

Conversation Starters: God’s Forgiveness

IMG_5649-001THE BIBLE MEETS LIFE: We have all been affected by unforgiveness. Many of us have wronged someone else—intentionally or unintentionally—and though we may have sought forgiveness, it was not offered. Others have been so hurt by someone else that the idea of forgiving seems impossible. Fortunately, God is not like us. The Bible reveals to us a loving God whom we have wronged with our rebellion and sin, yet He offers us total forgiveness and empowers us to forgive others.

Concept: God’s Forgiveness 

Preschool

Book of Jonah

LIFE POINT: God told Jonah, “Go to Nineveh. Tell the people I know about their sins.” Jonah did not want to go. He went on a ship that was sailing far away. God sent a storm that almost broke the ship. Jonah told the sailors that he had run away from God. He told them to throw him into the sea because the storm was his fault. The sailors threw Jonah overboard, and a big fish swallowed him. While in the fish, Jonah asked God to forgive him. After three days and nights, the fish spit Jonah onto the shore. Jonah went to Nineveh. The people listened to Jonah, and God forgave them.

LIVE IT OUT: Model forgiveness for your child. Let her hear you and other family members pray for forgiveness from God. Let her see you forgiving someone for some wrong. Slowly she will begin to put that behavior into practice.

Kids

Book of Jonah

LIFE POINT: God told Jonah, “Go to Nineveh. Tell the people I know about their sins.” Jonah did not want to go. He went on a ship that was sailing far away. God sent a storm that almost broke the ship. Jonah told the sailors that he had run away from God. He told them to throw him into the sea because the storm was his fault. The sailors threw Jonah overboard, and a big fish swallowed him. While in the fish, Jonah asked God to forgive him. After three days and nights, the fish spit Jonah onto the shore. Jonah obeyed God and went to Nineveh. The people listened to Jonah, and God forgave them. He did not punish them.

LIVE IT OUT: Forgiveness can be a hard lesson. Challenge your child to keep a list of the times he sins during one day. Pray with him, asking God to forgive his sins.

Students

1 John 1:5- 2:2

THE POINT: God always forgives when I truly repent. How can we learn to be more forgiving as a family? What is the hardest part of forgiving someone? Have a conversation around this quote:

“I think that if God forgives us we must forgive ourselves. Otherwise it is almost like setting up ourselves as a higher tribunal than Him.”1 —C.S. Lewis

LIVE IT OUT: Your student has been encouraged to do one or both Live It Out activities.

If your student chooses to do Confession:
•Encourage your student in the practice of confessing sin to God.
•Pray for your student as he or she examines his or her life for unconfessed sin.

If your student chooses to do Forgive Them:
•Encourage your student as he or she seeks to forgive someone this week.
•Determine to forgive someone in your life and share that experience with your student if possible.

1. C.S. Lewis, Letters of C.S. Lewis, ed. W.H. Lewis (Orlando: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing, 1966), 408.