God Called Isaiah

King Uzziah’s death marked the end of an era. His reign had been long and prosperous. Uzziah became king when he was 16, and he reigned over Judah for 52 years.

But Uzziah’s pride got the best of him. (See 2 Chron. 26:16.) Under Uzziah’s leadership, God’s people had turned away from the promises of God and trusted in the promises of the world around them. God had promised to bless the entire world through Abraham’s family, but God’s people were rebelling against Him. Instead of blessing, they set themselves up to receive God’s judgment. But God’s plans and promises were not thwarted. God sent the prophet Isaiah to preach a message of hope.

Isaiah 6 opens with Isaiah worshiping in the temple. Then God gave Isaiah a vision. Isaiah saw God sitting on a throne. God was reigning over the universe. The magnitude of God’s holiness made Isaiah realize the magnitude of his own sin. His response? “Woe is me!”

God extended His grace to Isaiah. He took away Isaiah’s guilt and shame and invited Isaiah to stay in His presence and then gave him an important job–to tell the people of Israel God’s message.

Isaiah knew he was sinful but God forgave Isaiah’s sin. Isaiah tells us God is good and holy. Like Isaiah, we also know we are sinful. God sent His Son, Jesus, to take away our sin. Only He can save us. The one true God is good and holy.

Help your kids understand that God is perfectly holy—He is pure and without sin and He is unique from anything and everyone else. God is also loving and full of mercy and grace. God sent Jesus to die on the cross to pay for the sins—past, present, and future—of those who would trust in Him. When we trust in Jesus, God says to us the words Isaiah heard: “Your guilt is taken away. Your sin is atoned for.” As you talk, reinforce these truths:

  • There is one true God.
  • God called Isaiah to be a prophet–meaning God gave Isaiah a message to tell to others.
  • Isaiah saw God the King on His throne.
  • Isaiah tells us that God is good and holy.

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Elisha and Naaman

Everyone gets sick at some point in his or her lifetime … often many times! Illness is probably no stranger to your kids. This week, kids will learn about a commander for the Syrian army—he was really sick. He had leprosy, a skin disease that was likely disfiguring and isolating. Without a cure, Naaman would face great suffering. But help came from an unlikely source: a young slave girl.

The people of Israel and Syria were often at odds with one another. The Syrians sometimes attacked the cities in Israel and plundered them. They took what they wanted, including people to work as slaves.

The young slave girl who served Naaman’s wife had been taken from her home in Israel.

As an Israelite, the girl knew about the one true God. She was familiar with God’s prophets, including Elisha, who had performed miracles to help and heal people. The girl told her mistress that Elisha the prophet could heal Naaman. So the king of Syria sent a letter to the king of Israel, asking him to cure Naaman of his leprosy. But the king of Israel had no power to heal Naaman. The power to heal comes only from God.

Elisha called for Naaman. But what happened next was not at all what Naaman expected. Naaman expected Elisha to call upon the name of God, wave his hand over Naaman, and miraculously heal him. Instead, Elisha instructed Naaman to go wash in the river.

Naaman was upset! He could have washed in a river back home! But Naaman’s servants urged him to wash. He did, and God healed him.

Naaman was sick. He had a problem with his skin. When Naaman washed in the river, his skin got better. It was a miracle! We are all sick with a sin problem—but when we trust in Jesus, He heals us. It’s a miracle! God forgives us and gives us new life.

Help your kids understand that not all sick people will be healed on this side of heaven, but our physical maladies are symptoms of an even greater illness–sin. Life is not how it was designed to be, but God plans to make it good! Jesus’ death and resurrection provided healing—forgiveness and eternal life—for those who trust in Him. As you talk, reinforce these truths:

  • There is one true God.
  • The servant girl teaches us to always want the best for others–even people who treat us poorly.
  • God healed Naaman.
  • Naaman learned that obeying God is always best.
  • There is no one like God.
  • How many gods are there? There is one true God.
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Elijah Ran from Jezebel

The prophet Elijah had just witnessed God’s great display of power over the false god Baal. God had sent fire from heaven and then ended a long drought with a great rain. Elijah must have felt a sense of victory; the evil King Ahab could not deny the one true God. But trouble awaited Elijah in the form of Ahab’s wife, Jezebel.

When Jezebel heard what happened at Mount Carmel, she threatened to kill Elijah. Elijah ran away and hid in the wilderness. What a change Elijah experienced! He went from a man faithfully and confidently praying for God’s glory to be displayed at Mount Carmel to a man begging the Lord to take away his life. (See 1 Kings 19:4.)

God was merciful to Elijah. An angel of the Lord brought Elijah food and drink while he rested. Then Elijah traveled to Horeb for a personal encounter with God. Horeb—another name for Mount Sinai—was a familiar place in the history of Israel. It was the place where God gave the Ten Commandments to the Israelites and where Moses met with God.

After the events in 1 Kings 18, Elijah might have expected a grand display of God’s presence, but what he experienced was just the opposite. The Lord was not in the wind. The Lord was not in the earthquake. The Lord was not in the fire. God revealed Himself to Elijah in a voice, a soft whisper.

Elijah’s circumstances were difficult, but God didn’t leave him. God gave him Elisha, a friend and successor. God assured Elijah that he was not alone; there were 7,000 people in Israel who had not turned to worship Baal.

Some people did not like Elijah—they wanted to hurt him because he worshiped God. He urged the people to turn from sin and to return to the true God. Elijah points us to Jesus, who also longs for us to turn from our sin and trust the one true God.

Help your kids understand that the messages God gave through the prophets like Elijah pointed forward to the ultimate prophet, priest, and king—Jesus Christ. His death and resurrection brought victory for God’s people. As you talk, reinforce these truths:

  • There is one true God.
  • God spoke to Elijah in a small whisper.
  • God encouraged Elijah.
  • How many gods are there? There is one true God.
  • Jesus is with us when we are afraid.

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Abundance Swap

Join us for our the ABUNDANCE SWAP on December 9th. 
Bring items at 1:00pm. Swap starts at 2pm. It lasts an hour.

What is the ABUNDANCE SWAP?
It is an alternative to the holiday shopping season because some of the good stuff we have isn’t being well used or fully enjoyed.

How does it work?
Step 1.  Find quality items. Look  in your home, shop, garage or office for items that someone would enjoy as a gift. These should be fun, useful, interesting or beautiful items in really good shape that you feel  you can spare. “Quality” doesn’t mean “expensive”. It means well-made, worthwhile, and likely to be valued. Please only include items that are in good enough condition to be “gift worthy”.

Step 2.  Contribute then collect. On the day of the ABUNDANCE SWAP, bring your items. Help organize your items in these categories: Men’s Items, Women’s Items, Kid’s Items, Kitchen, Home Decor, Outdoor Equipment, Garage, Tech, and Miscellaneous. Once you have contributed, enjoy a cup of coffee– then the swap will begin. We invite you to find some things that you’d like to take away to give as gifts to others!

Step 3.  Spend less and love more. Use the gifts you take home to reduce the cost of your new gift purchases.  As you spend less, consider using the “saved” money to help those in need in our community and around the world.

Three simple steps, that’s it. This will be our own holiday shopping event–a round of giving and receiving that includes no money and no new demands on resources. For some of us it may be a stretching exercise – a chance to let go of stuff, or to let go of worries that we might not get back “our fair share”, or  let go of commercially-planted ideas that a gift should be shiny, new, and from the store.

Bonus! There will be coffee,  hot chocolate, and a gift wrapping station available. We hope you can join us this year at the ABUNDANCE SWAP!

Questions? Email us by clicking here. See you December 9th!
Time: 1pm
Place: Antioch Office (255 SW Bluff Drive)

To learn more, watch this short video here or click below!

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Elijah Confronted Evil Ahab

This week, we continue in the big story of the Bible by learning about the contest between Elijah and the prophets of Baal. King Ahab was an evil king. In fact, “Ahab did more to provoke the Lord God of Israel than all the kings of Israel who were before him” (1 Kings 16:33). The things that Ahab did made God angry. God wanted His people to be faithful to Him, but King Ahab led them away from God.

God chose Elijah to get Ahab’s attention. In 1 Kings 17, Elijah told Ahab that a drought was coming. God prevented rain in the land for three years. For Ahab, a man who worshiped Baal—the false Canaanite god of rain and fertility—the drought sent a strong message about the one true God.

When God was ready to send rain on the earth, Elijah appeared to Ahab and instructed him to gather the Israelites and the prophets of the false gods at Mount Carmel. Elijah challenged the people to choose: Follow God or follow Baal. They couldn’t do both.

Elijah set up a challenge to prove who is the one true God. He faced off against the prophets of Baal. Each group prepared a bull on an altar and called on its deity to send fire from heaven. The prophets of Baal called and cried and cut themselves, but Baal did not answer.

Elijah poured water on and around his altar. He called to God, and God sent fire from heaven. Everything was burned up. The prophets could not deny that the God of Elijah is the one true God, and God sent a great rain to end the drought.

The people who worshiped the false god Baal worked very hard to show they loved Baal, but Baal was silent. The one true God is not like false gods. God is real and cares deeply for His creation. God showed His love for us by sending His Son, Jesus, to be the Savior of the world.

Help your kids understand that God is an initiating God. We love God because He first loved us, which He proved by providing Jesus. Only God—the one true God—has power to help His people and to save them. And He saves them through His Son, Jesus, whose name means “the Lord saves.” As you talk to your child, reinforce these truths:

  • There is one true God.
  • Elijah showed the people God’s power.
  • God hears His people when we pray.
  • How many gods are there? There is one true God.
  • The one true God defeated the prophets of Baal.

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Praises of God’s People

This week we will look at a few psalms to see how people wrote the Book of Psalms, or songs, to God to worship Him and praise Him for who He is. Some of the psalms celebrate God’s goodness. Some of the psalms are requests by God’s people for God to provide and protect them. Still other psalms express the people’s awareness of their sin or ask God why He does what He does.

In the Old Testament, whenever God’s people cried out for mercy and forgiveness, praised God, or thanked Him, God heard their prayers. He promised to answer them, and He did by sending his Son, Jesus. The book of Psalms teaches us how to talk to God as we strive to obey Him.

Help your kids understand that God delights in hearing from us. Encourage them to be real with God in how they talk with Him and to share their joys, sorrows, and questions with Him. Remind them that God hears their prayers and that God has already given our greatest need—Jesus. As you talk, reinforce these truths:

  • God is good.
  • People wrote songs to worship God.
  • We read the psalms in the Bible.
  • Some psalms told about God’s plan to send Jesus.
  • Why can we trust God? We can trust God because He is good.
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Halloween and a Child’s Imagination

As image-bearers of God, we are inherently creative. This creativity shows up in adulthood as we problem-solve, but is vibrant in the imagination of a child. Mud pies, blanket forts, and spotting shapes in clouds all point back to a creative God who has given us a wild and fun imagination.

As adults, we still enjoy the fleeting opportunity to re-enter the world of make believe. We might tell children about a jolly old elf who brings a bag full of presents down a chimney, a bunny who lays chocolate eggs, a fairy who exchanges a lost tooth for change, and maybe even have a fantasy football team. But as Halloween approaches, we sense a tension—how do witches, fairies, ghosts and goblins fit into our creative imagination? Instead of running from the holiday or feeling guilty for indulging, I invite you and your family to both understand the origin of Halloween and to participate in a way that will use your imagination for a greater good.

A Short History

The origin of Halloween is a fascinating story. But first we need to rewind, travel back in time in order to invite the story to come to life. I invite you to read slow and imagine these moments in history.

Go back one thousand, seven hundred and fours year with me. We find ourselves in 313 A.D. This was a big year for Christians because two powerful Roman emperors—Constantine ruling the West and Licinius the East—met in Milan and determined religious freedom for Christians. The age of the martyrs was at an end! During these three hundred years, it had become common for Christians to gather together for a feast in honor of the great number of martyrs who were killed each year. There was no official date, and celebrations were scattered.

Four hundred years later, Pope Gregory IV regulated the date and invited people to remember the saints on November 1st. The evening before the holiday, which was October 31, was a time of preparation known as All Hallows Eve, literally meaning “holy evening”. The night was often marked with prayers, hymns, fasting, and the reading of various scriptures in preparation for the celebration of the faith of the saints and martyrs. It is interesting to note that important dates were often chosen to overlap with non-Christian celebrations in hopes that it would help bring people into the faith.

With that being said, this date was already an important date in England, Scotland, Whales, Ireland and Northern France as it marked the beginning of winter. The last day of Summer, October 31, was celebrated with the festival of Samhain (which literally means “summers end”). The ancient Celts believed that on this night, spirits looked for new bodies to inhabit in an effort to move on from Earth and attain the afterlife. What a terrifying thought! This frightened them too, so they made their personal appearance frightening and their homes undesirable hoping that these wandering ghouls would look for more desirable bodies to inhabit. This, of course, explains the origin of the first costumes, masks, and haunted houses.

Many of the Celts found the gospel message of Jesus to be the good news they had been longing for, and ancient folklore began to integrate with religious traditions. Specifically, All Hallows Eve shared similar themes with Samhain including the supernatural and the spirit world. 

It is in this tension where we find ourselves today—a beautiful Christian holiday steeped in legend and cultural traditions. And it only becomes more complicated when we remember that on October 31, 1517, Martin Luther posted his Ninety-Five Thesis to the doors of the Wittenberg Castle church. By doing so, Luther knocked down the pillars supporting many practices in medieval Christianity and changed the world.

October 31 is richly steeped in Christian history!

The Good News

We have a message of hope to offer. The history of October 31 reminds us that it is a privilege to gather together and worship God freely—something I definitely take for granted. We are also reminded of the amazing Christians who have gone before us, including Martin Luther who sparked the Protestant Reformation.

But there is even greater news! Instead of feeling a paralyzing fear based on the possibility of spirits inhabiting us, we are invited into the message of the gospel: that the kingdom of heaven is presently invading the kingdom of darkness and the last enemy to be defeated will be death, the grimmest reaper of all. We believe in a God who is in complete control of the afterlife in the best possible way. The afterlife will have a place for the good and restored creation and also a place for all that is evil and in continued rebellion against God. There is freedom in this story!

Let’s Celebrate

In freedom comes cause for celebration! Halloween can become so much more than a holiday steeped in thousands of years of fear and superstition. It can become a day where we remember the history of the Christian church and also re-enter the world of make believe in order to develop our moral character at the same time.

Think about when you were a kid. Who did you really want to be? Maybe it was Batman, a character who overcame great hardship and chose to channel his negative emotions into positive actions for the good of others. Or maybe it was Wonder Woman—with her lasso of truth—inspiring kids and adults alike to be genuine and also love our planet. Or maybe you were very intrigued by the animal kingdom, and dreamed of being as fast as a cheetah or as cunning as a fox. These characters and creatures which you either loved or loathed offered powerful inspiration. Just like you, kids long to be an awesome version of themselves!

As you start to dream up costumes, make space to talk to your child about who they want to pretend to be and why. Encourage them to imagine themselves as that better version! For example, if your child dreams of being Spiderman, affirm that we all have unique talents and abilities that give us “power” and help your child find them, hone them, and use them. Invite kids to aspire to change the world and make it a better place!

And if your child is dead-set on wearing the scariest mask at the halloween store, I would encourage you not to fear. Instead, invite him or her to wear the costume with purpose, remembering the evil powers which Christ will ultimately defeat thanks to His courageous sacrifice.

As Halloween draws near, I invite you to have meaningful conversations about church history and create good memories which will further develop the moral imagination.

With an understanding of this history, I invite you to confidently say Happy Halloween!And, when the trick-or-treaters come to your door, I invite you to say Happy Halloween with deep conviction!

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Job

This week we will walk with Job through a very challenging part of his life when he lost pretty much everything he had and suffered physically, emotionally, and spiritually. We will see that God was teaching Job about trust during this time, but He was doing far more than that.

A lot of bad things happened to Job. This caused Job to ask lots of questions of God. God responded! He reminded Job that the world is amazing, however it is not as it was designed to be. Jesus came with good news—God is making all things new! He invites us to trust and follow him, and join with him in the reconciliation of all things. Like Job, we are invited to trust God’s wisdom.

Help your kids remember that that can trust God always, even when life is difficult. Encourage them to trust and remember that God is in control—always. As you talk, reinforce these truths which they will hear in Antioch Kids this week:

  • God is good.
  • Job was very sad, but he loved God.
  • God said He is in charge of everything He made.
  • Why can we trust God? We can trust God because He is good.
  • Why can we trust God? Everything God does is for His glory and our good.
  • Job learned that God is all-powerful, in control, and good.

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Solomon Thought about Life

This week we continue our journey through the big story of the Bible and wrap up our time with Solomon by learning about how he thought about the purpose of life and wrote about it in the Book of Ecclesiastes.

Apart from God, life does not make sense. God created everything, and knows how things go best. He also gives everything a purpose. God longs for us to know that we are made by Him and loved by Him—that’s why Jesus came. Jesus invites us to trust God’s love and have a full, meaningful life. (John 10:10)

Help your kids find purpose in loving Jesus and living for Him. Remind them that Jesus gives us value and purpose in life! Here are a few more things they will learn in class on Sunday at Antioch:

  • God is good.
  • Solomon wrote about life.
  • We can love God and praise Him.
  • Jesus taught people how to love and praise God.
  • Why can we trust God? We can trust God because He is good.
  • Why can we trust God? Everything God does is for His glory and our good.
  • Life has purpose only with God.

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Solomon’s Sin Divided the Kingdom

This week we will see how despite King Solomon’s great wisdom, he still made bad decisions and his sin divided the people of Israel. When Solomon’s son Rehoboam became king, the people asked for him to ease up on them, but Rehoboam listened to the bad advice of his peers and actually demanded more from the people. Because of this, the kingdom split into two: the Northern Kingdom of Israel and the Southern Kingdom of Judah.

King Solomon did not lead God’s people as God desired. God’s people needed a better king! Through David’s family, God would send His own Son, Jesus Christ, to be a perfect King over God’s people forever.

This week, you can help your child understand that Jesus is our perfect King. When we love Him, follow Him, and do what He says, we will give glory to God and participate with Him in his plan to reconcile all things to Himself. As you talk, remind your child that:

  • God knows everything.
  • David’s family were kings of Judah.
  • Jesus was born into Solomon’s family.
  • Where does wisdom come from? Wisdom comes from God.
  • God split Israel into two kingdoms.

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