Sign-up to receive Kathy's FREE E-Newsletter or Weekly Blog Posts

Archive | Easter

6 Ways to Impact Children with the Message of Easter

Rich memories of childhood Easters are rooted in my mind. I can still feel the cold metal of the folding chair as I sat with my family in the church parking lot waiting for the first rays of the sun to make their appearance. And with the sun, the somber notes of “low in the grave He lay…” became the joyous thunder of “up from the grave He arose (He arose), with a mighty triumph o’er His foes.” After prayer and singing, everyone escaped the chilly air and enjoyed pancakes and sausage in the church fellowship hall.

Recently, I’ve been thinking about the impact Easter had on me as a child. I also have wonderful memories of Christmas, but Easter took root in my soul from an early age. Even then, I must have sensed the eternal significance of Christ’s death and resurrection. As parents and grandparents, we have a great opportunity – and God-given responsibility – to make sure our children understand the great truth and power of Easter.

Below are six easy, but memorable, ways to help your children understand the Easter story. Make sure you check out the links for details and more information:

  1. Make a set of Resurrection Eggs – This is a fun way to “concretely” share the Easter story with your kids. You can purchase a ready-made set, but putting them together with your kids is part of the fun. Here are the instructions for making your own Resurrection Eggs.
  2. Watch a movie together – One great way to start a conversation with your children about the Easter is by watching a movie that portrays the Easter story or illustrates its truths. Several great ones are available. Just choose one that is age-appropriate for the kids in your life. Here are a few suggestions:
  1. Attend a Good Friday service or event – Many churches have services on Good Friday to help us remember Christ’s sacrifice on our behalf. This is a great opportunity to talk about Jesus’ death and what it accomplished for us. Cochrane, the small town where we lived in Canada, had a “Cross Walk.” Members from all areas of the community met downtown and prayerfully followed the cross as a volunteer carried it through the streets.
  2. Make Resurrection Cookies – Use this tasty object lesson to teach your kids about the empty tomb. Make them on Saturday night and enjoy them first thing Sunday. Here’s the recipe and how-to’s for Resurrection Cookies.
  3. Share the Gospel from Scripture – Your kids are never to young to hear that “Jesus died to save us.” Of course, the way you share this truth needs to be age appropriate.
  1. Experience the Easter Sunrise – Like the women who went to the tomb, be up and ready to greet the first light of Sunday morning. You can do this at an official sunrise service or in your own backyard. Friday was somber. Sunday is a celebration! (And don’t forget the pancake breakfast!)

I’d love to hear about your childhood Easter memories! Also, please share ways you celebrate Easter with your kids and grandkids.

Note: This post is a “re-run” from previous years. But it’s full of helpful info!

Read More »

Keep Watch with Jesus Tonight

Keep watch with JesusHave you ever thought you could do a better job of keeping watch with Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane than did Peter, James, and John? Tonight, you could have the chance. In today’s guest post, my friend Kimberly Texidor – who also happens to be an awesome Bible teacher and the Children’s Minister at my church  – encourages and challenges us to “keep watch with Jesus” tonight.

Tonight, I’ll tuck the kids in bed. After one last sip of water, another kiss goodnight, and one final trip down the hall to tell us “just this one more thing,” there will finally be quiet.

As the sounds of a busy home come slowly to a stop, I’ll make my way to the den, all alone, to meet with Jesus.

This time in the dark of night feels like such a small, insignificant offering, really. Yet I am compelled by the verses about that evening, long ago, when the darkness fell upon sleepy disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane.

“Then he said to them, ‘My soul is sorrowful to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” Matthew 26:38

But they failed to keep watch with Jesus. Even for one hour. So tonight, I’ll offer up to Jesus the only thing He asked of them. I’ll stay awhile, and keep watch with Him.

My heart breaks when I think of my Savior facing that night alone. Surely His disciples missed the gravity of what was coming, or they certainly would have roused themselves and sat with our Lord.

And as I think about His solitude in that garden, I am reminded to pray for all of those who are sitting up in their own Garden of Gethsemane tonight. I think of anxious hearts that feel all alone while the rest of the world is sleeping away.

I think of my own children, so loved, so prayed over, and my heart hurts for those whose names have never been lifted to God in prayer.

Tonight, as I reread the final earthly prayer of Jesus, my soul needs to keep watch, as if to give to Him this small gesture of love.

What if, tonight, we spent some time alone with the Savior, interceding in the dark, and keeping watch with the one who constantly intercedes before the Father on our behalf?

As you “keep watch with Jesus tonight,” start by reading Mark 14:32-42. Now read John 17 and use the following prayer prompts to pray as Jesus prayed:

  • Confession-Pray that we won’t fall into temptation. As believers, our souls may be willing, but our flesh is surely weak. Pray that Christ will keep us close to Himself, when the temptations of fear, busyness, sin, rote religion, and worldliness threaten to pull us away (Mark 14:36).
  • Worship-Pray that God will be glorified and Christ will be exalted this Easter in our hearts and homes, in our nation, and in His church (John 17:1-2).
  • Salvation-Intercede on behalf of those who need Jesus, praying specifically for those who are waiting to hear the Gospel for the very first time (John 17:3).
  • Protection-Pray that God will protect those who bear His name from the attacks of the Enemy. In particular, pray for those brave men and women who are even today risking their lives in hard and dangerous places so that others may know Christ (John 17:15).
  • Holiness-Pray that God will make us Holy, and that we will commit to live out His truths in both word and action (John 17:17).
  • Unity-Pray for unity in the church. Pray for unity across denominational, political, and theological divides so that our radical love for one another will help the world see Jesus  (John 17:20-23).
  • Love-Pray that God’s love may be in us and poured out through us to a world in need (John 17:25-26).

I don’t want to be in such a hurry to get to the Garden Tomb on Sunday that I miss the Garden of Gethsemane tonight. So, in this quiet space, in the darkness, I will meet Jesus. I will pray to the One who now stands, victorious, over death, and the cross and the grave, the One who intercedes continually before the altar of God on our behalf. I will meet Him in the darkness, and remember the Savior who prayed alone so long ago, and prayed for me.

Will you keep watch with Jesus tonight? We would love for you to share your thoughts with us!

Kimberly TexidorKimberly Texidor is the Children’s Pastor at The Woodlands First in The Woodlands, TX. After studying Spanish Education in college, Kimberly went on to study Missions at Southwestern Seminary. Currently, she’s completing a Masters of Divinity at BH Carroll Theological Institute. Kimberly is married to Manuel, a teacher and counselor, and they have three children.

Read More »

4 Things a C & E Christian is Missing

C&E ChristianIn case you’re unfamiliar with the term, a C & E Christian is someone who declares to be a Christian but only attends church on the BIG Christian holidays – Christmas and Easter. C & E Christians account for the big jump in church attendance these two days out of the year.

I can think of many reasons a Christian might rarely attend church. For instance, maybe they’ve been hurt by a church or perhaps they’ve allowed the busyness of life to get in the way. But this is not what God intends.

God calls every believer to be actively and vitally involved in the life of a local church. He designed our faith to be corporate. Individual believers need the church and the church needs individual believers. Neither can be everything God purposes for us to be without the other.

Christians who don’t attend the same church regularly enough to be an integral part of the life of that church are missing out on much of what God has for them. Although I’m sure I could make a much longer list, the following four things quickly jumped to mind:

  1. Deep, loving relationships with other believers – God chooses to love, encourage, comfort, and support us through His people. Other Christians are His tools, His means of providing for us. When we aren’t around enough to develop those relationships we rob ourselves of so much that God wants to give us. (See 1 John 3:16-18, 2 Corinthians 1:3-4, 1 Thessalonians 5:11.)
  2. The blessing of fulfilling service – The Holy Spirit reveals His presence in a unique way in the life of every believer. He may manifest Himself in one person through the gift of teaching, another through the gift of mercy, and still another through the gift of administration. These gifts are not intended for the individual but for the good of the church. It is only when we use our spiritual gifts to serve the body that we will find the blessing of fulfilling our God-given purpose. (See 1 Corinthians 12:4-7.)
  3. The full spectrum of spiritual growth – Individual believers need the church for equipping, edification, and teaching. We CANNOT do it by ourselves. We cannot grow to spiritual maturity without the support, resources, and accountability of the church (Ephesians 4:11-13).
  4. Protection from false teaching – A Christian on her own is vulnerable. We can easily wander without the stability of the church body. We are gullible and are prone to believe lies without the foundation of the teaching of the church (Ephesians 4:14).

Of course only the individual and God can determine this, but there is another very important thing a C & E Christian might be missing. An individual who claims to be a Christian but only attends the church to worship twice a year, may be missing out on a saving relationship with Jesus. A spiritually healthy Christian naturally wants to be connected with other Christians. If that’s not the case, something is seriously wrong.

Are you a C&E Christian? Have you felt you’ve been missing out? Do you know any C&E Christians? How can we encourage them to be an active part of Christ’s body?

Read More »

6 Ways to Impact Children with the Message of Easter

6 ways EasterRich memories of childhood Easters keep popping up in my mind. I can still feel the cold metal of the folding chair as I sat with my family in the church parking lot waiting for the first rays of the sun to make their appearance. And with the sun, the somber notes of “low in the grave He lay…” became the joyous thunder of “up from the grave He arose (He arose), with a mighty triumph o’er His foes.” After prayer and singing, everyone escaped the chilly air and enjoyed pancakes and sausage in the church fellowship hall.

Recently, I’ve been thinking about the impact Easter had on me as a child. I also have wonderful memories of Christmas, but Easter took root in my soul from an early age. Even then, I must have sensed the eternal significance of Christ’s death and resurrection. As parents and grandparents, we have a great opportunity – and God-given responsibility – to make sure our children understand the great truth and power of Easter.

Below are six easy, but memorable, ways to help your children understand the Easter story. Make sure you check out the links for details and more information:

  1. Make a set of Resurrection Eggs – This is a fun way to “concretely” share the Easter story with your kids. You can purchase a ready-made set, but putting them together with your kids is part of the fun. Here are the instructions for making your own Resurrection Eggs.

2. Watch a movie together – One great way to start a conversation with your children about the Easter is by watching a movie that portrays the Easter story or illustrates its truths. Several great ones are available. Just choose one that is age-appropriate for the kids in your life. Here are a few suggestions:

3. Attend a Good Friday service or event – Many churches have services on Good Friday to help us remember Christ’s sacrifice on our behalf. This is a great opportunity to talk about Jesus’ death and what it accomplished for us. Cochrane, the small town where we lived in Canada, had a “Cross Walk.” Members from all areas of the community met downtown and prayerfully followed the cross as a volunteer carried it through the streets.

4. Make Resurrection Cookies – Use this tasty object lesson to teach your kids about the empty tomb. Make them on Saturday night and enjoy them first thing Sunday. Here’s the recipe and how-to’s for Resurrection Cookies.

5. Share the Gospel from Scripture – Your kids are never to young to hear that “Jesus died to save us.” Of course, the way you share this truth needs to be age appropriate. For instance, tell the biblical Easter story using tangible objects such as 30 coins, a large nail, and a small wooden cross as visuals to keep their attention. See this article on Crosswalk.com by Sandy Coughlin. And here are five Easter Mini-lessons for your family from Focus on the Family.

6. Experience the Easter Sunrise – Like the women who went to the tomb, be up and ready to greet the first light of Sunday morning. You can do this at an official sunrise service or in your own backyard. Friday was somber. Sunday is a celebration! (And don’t forget the pancake breakfast!)

I’d love to hear about your childhood Easter memories! Also, please share ways you celebrate Easter with your kids, grandkids, and other children in your life.

 

Read More »

5 Reasons We Need the Resurrection

Jesus’ death on the cross is not sufficient to provide the abundant and eternal life God has promised us.

cross resurrectionDoes that statement shock you? If you are a Christian, I would expect you to be highly offended and perhaps not read another word. But if you’ll hear me out, I think you’ll agree with me.

The apostle Paul firmly believed the cross was not enough. Read what he wrote to the Corinthian Christians:

And if Christ has not been raised, then your faith is useless and you are still guilty of your sins. In that case, all who have died believing in Christ are lost! And if our hope in Christ is only for this life, we are more to be pitied than anyone in the world. 1 Cor 15:17-19, NLT

Peter also knew that our eternal hope depended on the resurrection of Christ:

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you, 1 Peter 1:3-4, NIV

So why do we so often leave out the Resurrection when we share the Good News of Jesus? We don’t forget to talk about the Cross. And yes, praise God, the death of Jesus on the Cross of Calvary provided the payment that my sins – and yours – had earned. Our sins deserved the death penalty. Our sins brought us spiritual death and separation from our holy God. But Jesus Christ took that penalty on Himself. Without the cross of Christ we would still be condemned by our sins. But that is only part of the Gospel message.

The Gospel is incomplete without the resurrection.

In 1 Corinthians 15 Paul succinctly expressed the Good News. He boils down the message to its most important components.

For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.  1 Cor 15:3-4, NIV

5 reasons we need the resurrection

Yes, Jesus’ death paid the price of our sin, but His resurrection provided our hope for life – both now and eternally. Don’t miss these important truths:

  1. Jesus’ resurrection proves everything He said and did was true. See John 14:20
  2. Jesus’ resurrection defeated death! That victory is His and ours! See Romans 6:9
  3. Jesus’ resurrection provides us with new life in God. See Romans 6:10, Col 3:1
  4. Jesus’ resurrection guarantees our physical resurrection. See Rom 8:11, 1 Cor 15:20-21
  5. Jesus’ resurrection gives us power for this life. See Philippians 3:10, Romans 8:11

The resurrection is the power of God for those who believe! Because Christ has been raised, we will be raised! Believers, we have the same power living in us that raised Christ from the dead! Let’s shout it out!

What was your first reaction to: “The cross is not enough?”

Do you tend to forget about the resurrection? I’d love to hear your thoughts about the power of the resurrection in your life.

Read More »

The Power of “For”

Easter CrossOne Easter Sunday morning, while listening to my pastor explain the wonder of the Gospel, one little three-letter word hit me upside the head. “For.” There’s a lot of power in this small preposition.

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  Romans 5:8, NIV

“For” is translated from the Greek word huper. It means “instead of, in behalf of, in the place of.” I also looked up that little preposition in the dictionary. Then I dropped the meaning of the word “for” into the middle of Romans 5:8. The expanded statements greatly enhance our understanding of Jesus’ substitutionary death on the cross for you and me.

  • While I was still a sinner, Jesus died “in place of” me.
  • While I was still a sinner, Jesus died “instead of” me.
  • While I was still a sinner, Jesus died “on behalf of” me.
  • While I was still a sinner, Jesus died “in the interest of” me.
  • While I was still a sinner, Jesus died “in exchange for” me.
  • While I was still a sinner, Jesus died “in order to save” me.
  • While I was still a sinner, Jesus died “with the purpose of” me.
  • While I was still a sinner, Jesus died “in order to obtain or acquire” me.

I’m the one that deserved to die. I am the sinner, not Jesus. Yet, while I was still running as hard as I could away from Him, He willingly accepted the punishment that was really mine. That was really yours. Why? “For” me. “For” you.

Take a few minutes and plug your name into the statements above. Jesus died in exchange for Kathy. Jesus died in the interest of Laura. Jesus died on behalf of Julie. Jesus died instead of Sue.

If you have never accepted Jesus’ death “for” you, do it today! Find out more about how to know Jesus as your Savior.

Which of these statements impacts you the most today? Why?

Read More »

The Cross is Not Enough

Jesus’ death on the cross is not sufficient to provide the abundant and eternal life God has promised us.

cross resurrectionDoes that statement shock you? If you are a Christian, I would expect you to be highly offended and perhaps not read another word. But if you’ll hear me out, I think you’ll agree with me.

The apostle Paul firmly believed the cross was not enough. Read what he wrote to the Corinthian Christians:

And if Christ has not been raised, then your faith is useless and you are still guilty of your sins. In that case, all who have died believing in Christ are lost! And if our hope in Christ is only for this life, we are more to be pitied than anyone in the world. 1 Cor 15:17-19, NLT

Peter also knew that our eternal hope depended on the resurrection of Christ:

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you, 1 Peter 1:3-4, NIV

So why do we so often leave out the Resurrection when we share the Good News of Jesus? We don’t forget to talk about the Cross. And yes, praise God, the death of Jesus on the Cross of Calvary provided the payment that my sins – and yours – had earned. Our sins deserved the death penalty. Our sins brought us spiritual death and separation from our holy God. But Jesus Christ took that penalty on Himself. Without the cross of Christ we would still be dead in our sins. But that is only part of the Gospel message.

Image from visualbiblealive.com

The Gospel is incomplete without the resurrection.

In 1 Corinthians 15 Paul succinctly expressed the Good News. He boils down the message to its most important components.

For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.  1 Cor 15:3-4, NIV

5 reasons we need the resurrection

Yes, Jesus’ death paid the price of our sin, but His resurrection provided our hope for life – both now and eternally. Don’t miss these important truths:

  1. Jesus’ resurrection proves everything He said and did was true. See John 14:20
  2. Jesus’ resurrection defeated death! That victory is His and ours! See Romans 6:9
  3. Jesus’ resurrection provides us with new life in God. See Romans 6:10, Col 3:1
  4. Jesus’ resurrection guarantees our physical resurrection. See Rom 8:11, 1 Cor 15:20-21
  5. Jesus’ resurrection gives us power for this life. See Philippians 3:10, Romans 8:11

The resurrection is the power of God for those who believe! Because Christ has been raised, we will be raised! Believers, we have the same power living in us that raised Christ from the dead! Let’s shout it out!

What was your first reaction to: “The cross is not enough?”

Do you tend to forget about the resurrection? I’d love to hear your thoughts about the power of the resurrection in your life.

Read More »

Offended by the Cross

On September 13, 2001 workers at Ground Zero uncovered a 20-foot cross – two steel beams forged in the fire of heartbreak. Revealed as rubble was cleared away, this symbol of faith and hope immediately became a place of prayer for exhausted and grief-stricken workers and clergy.

Now ten years later, the 9/11 cross is slated to be on permanent display in the National September 11 Memorial and Museum. But if the New Jersey based group, “American Atheists,” get their way, the cross will be banned. According to a recent story in World Magazine the group claims they have experienced trauma, depression, and physical ailments because the religious tradition of the cross has been “imposed upon them through the power of the state.”

In other words, these atheists have been offended by the cross.

My response: “So, get in line.”

Taking offense to the cross of Christ is nothing new. People have been offended by the cross for more than 2,000 years. Funny, the world is offended, but Jesus “scorned its shame” (Hebrews 12:2) to obey the Father and provide our salvation.

Here are just a few of the polarizing responses produced by the cross of Christ:

  • Considered “foolishness” to those who are perishing, but recognized as the “power of God” to those who believe (1 Corinthians 1:18).
  • The message of the cross fosters both peace Colossians 1:20) and war (Philippians 3:18).
  • Our response to Christ’s death on the cross can condemn or justify (John 3:16-18; Col 2:14).
  • The cross both heals and offends (1 Peter 2:24).

Are you offended by the cross? If you are a believer, perhaps you refrain from speaking about the cross of Christ because you are afraid someone will take offense. Believers, may we not be afraid of offense but hold high the cross of Christ. For it is the “power of God for salvation to those who believe” (Romans 1:16).

Who will you risk offending today?

Read More »