God Brought His People Home

Screen Shot 2018-02-22 at 12.31.01 PM

This week, kids at Antioch will learn that God brought His people back home. For 70 years God’s people had been living in Babylon. Some of God’s people were born in Babylon, but they knew that Israel was their home. Everyone was waiting for God to set them free and lead them home.

Finally, the time had come for God’s people to go back home.

Cyrus was the new king. The Lord did something amazing in Cyrus’s heart. God changed his heart and Cyrus declared that everyone from Israel was free to return home. The exile was over! King Cyrus even gave God’s people enough money and supplies to get home and to rebuild their city, their temple, their lives.

When they arrived in Jerusalem, they began working to rebuild the temple. Once the foundations of the temple were completed a great celebration of God’s faithfulness happened. The priests dressed in special robes and the people cheered and cried. God had given them a home.

The temple was the place where God met with His people on earth. God wanted His people to be with Him and the people wanted to be with God. This isn’t the only time God lead His people and then invited them to return to Him. He has done that for you and I, too! When Jesus came, it was God’s way of reminding the world that we are made to be with Him and was His invitation to return to Him. We are made to be with God, and He knows we ought to be with Him. Right now, He is with us in spirit. And when Jesus returns, he will restore a greater home for all of His people, and we will spend eternity with Him.

We encourage you to remind your kids about this Bible story and reinforce these key points:

  • God changed the king’s heart and the king freed the people of Judah.
  • God brought the Israelites back home.
  • Zerubbabel led the people to build the temple.
  • Jesus came to give us a new home with Him forever.

Daniel Was Rescued

Screen Shot 2018-02-22 at 9.49.00 AM

This coming Sunday at Antioch, kids will learn about how God rescued Daniel from hungry lions. The people of Judah had been in captivity for a long time now. A new king, name Darius was on the throne. Daniel was much older now and King Darius trusted Daniel with the important job of being a supervisor over a large part of the kingdom.

Daniel was very good at his job. So good, in fact, that King Darius planned to put him in charge of the entire kingdom. The other supervisors and governors were jealous of Daniel. These jealous leaders wanted Daniel to mess up and get fired. Daniel was good and did the right thing every time.

Since Daniel was not messing up, the other leaders came up with a plan to get Daniel into trouble. They convinced King Darius to make a law saying people could only pray to the king for the next 30 days. If the people prayed to anyone else, they would be fed to the king’s lions. Daniel chose to honor God by only praying to God. Daniel’s jealous co-workers caught Daniel praying to God and turned Daniel in to the king. The king had no choice but to throw Daniel in to the lion’s den, even though the king did not want to.

Daniel was in the lions’ den all night long. When morning came, the king rushed to find out what happened to Daniel and discovered that Daniel was alive and unharmed! God protected Daniel and the king made it ok to pray to Daniel’s God.

Like Daniel, we can choose to trust and honor God. We can know that God alone is able to save us. God showed us His power to save from death when He brought Jesus back to life.

Take time this week to talk with your kids about these points in the story:

  • People were only supposed to pray to King Darius.
  • Daniel would not pray to anyone but God.
  • Daniel was thrown into the lion’s den and God rescued Daniel.
  • God rescues us and give us life.

Ezekiel Told About a Future Hope

Screen Shot 2018-02-14 at 9.10.38 AM

This week at Antioch, kids will learn about Ezekiel. Ezekiel had a tough job: he had a message from God to give to people who had chosen not to worship God–in fact, they were worshipping other things instead! Because of this, there were consequences. The people of Judah had been exiled–meaning they were taken to a foreign land. Unfortunately, the people of Judah blamed God for their circumstances. “It’s not fair!” they argued. (See Ezek. 18:25.)

Ezekiel told the people that exile was their own fault; God longed for His people to love and obey Him.  God does not enjoy punishing people… in fact, He told them to, “repent and live!” (Ezek. 18:32). He wants good things for His creation.

Then God gave Ezekiel a vision. In this vision, God showed Ezekiel a valley of dry bones. The bones represented Israel. Then something amazing happened! God showed Ezekiel that He would put tendons, flesh, and skin on the bones. He would put breath in them so they would come to life.

Ezekiel encouraged the people of Judah. Apart from God, they were dead. But God was offering them life– good life!  God said that His dwelling place will be with them and then said “I will be their God, and they will be My people” (Ezek. 37:27).

We, too, know that life is not as it should be. We choose to do our own thing over and over again instead of trusting and obeying God. This is called sin. Sin ruins things! God does not want this for His creation–He wants us to repent and live!

Hundreds of years after Ezekiel died, God’s presence came to His people through Jesus Christ, Immanuel—meaning, “God with us.” Jesus is the source of life; HE has come to give us the fullness of life and to join Him in His work of making things as they ought to be.

As you review this story with your child, help him or her understand:

  • God showed Ezekiel dry bones–then gave them life.
  • God is the  giver of life.
  • God gives us new life when we trust Jesus!
  • We obey God because He loves us.




God’s Very Good Idea!

In the beginning, God had a very good idea! God’s idea was to make people…lots of people…lots of different people…who would all enjoy loving him and all enjoy loving each other. They would all be made in His image—they would all have a little part of God to show to the world.

So God got to work! He made a beautiful world for the first people. And he said to them: Be happy! Enjoy loving me and loving each other. Look after and enjoy the earth, too! God continued creating people— all were made in His image. And all of them were different. Some were boys. Some were girls. Some liked reading. Some had darker skin. Some had lighter skin. Some liked riding bikes. Some had curly hair. In fact, God made every person!

And God is still doing this—He had the very good idea to create you! You are a part of God’s very good idea!

We are all different, but we are all the same, too. People might look different or speak different or play different. But they are all made in God’s image. God created each of us equally with dignity, value and beauty. He did this so we can love Him and love one another! We are part of God’s very good idea!

As you review this story with your child, we encourage you to reinforce these truths:

  • Every person is made by God.
  • Every person is made to enjoy loving God and loving each other.
  • Every person is made in the image of God.
  • We are all different—with unique interests and characteristics.
  • We are all the same—humans made by God!
  • We are a part of God’s very good idea!

To reinforce these truths in accessible kids language, we recommend God’s Very Good Idea, by Trillia Newbell.

Screen Shot 2017-12-27 at 11.57.43 AM.png

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.

Screen Shot 2017-10-24 at 1.17.03 PM


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!


God Time Cards :: August

During the month of August our elementary students are learning all about Obedience. Obedience is trusting those who lead you by doing what you’re asked to do. We would like to equip you as parents to begin a conversation about obedience at home this month. To help do this, we want to provide you with this great resource called God Time Cards. These are short devotions are designed for elementary kids. They are fun, engaging – and we hope you love them!

Below you will find 4 God Time Cards to help you and your family continue learning about obedience this August. Simply click below to get started! Enjoy!

Week 1                    Week 2

Week 3                    Week 4

Creation Exploration

Hi Church Family!

We are halfway through the summer and nearing the end of our preschool creation unit on Sunday mornings in Antioch Kids! Our bottom line for preschoolers is: God made everything! We love teaching this important truth to kids because it also teaches us about:

  • God’s power. We can’t create something out of nothing—but God can! And He made everything!
  • God’s creativity. Just look at how beautiful and amazing everything is! God is the ultimate artist—He came up with so many wonderful and unique plants and animals and land formations and human beings.
  • God’s wisdom. God knew how everything would work best. He had a plan for everything in creation to fit together for good, so that living things would thrive and humans in particular would enjoy the best lives possible—which, most importantly, means that they got to be friends with God!
  • God’s love. He knows each creature so well, because He made them, and because He knows them so well, He also loves them with a love more powerful than anything else!
  • The goodness of creation. Each day, when God finished creating something new, He said it was good! Everything God made was and is good. Even when Adam and Eve chose to not trust God and sin was first experienced in the world, God still valued His creatures—so much that He chose to leave heaven and come here to Earth. But he didn’t stop there. He was even willing to die so that people could know Him, trust Him, and spend forever with Him.
  • The image of God. We are made in the image of God! In fact, God shared His likeness with every single person, meaning that people are designed to show a portion of God to the world. For example, some people are naturally very creative, and that reflects our God who is creative! Some people are more relational—this characteristic can remind others that God loves us and is a relational God. Some people are very wise, reflecting the wisdom of God. We are made in God’s image and this is our greatest source of value!
  • The goodness of rest. God rested on the 7th day, and that reminds us that we need to rest too! It’s important to take time to remember Who made us and provides for us. Taking Sabbath rest is a practice of trusting God, taking time to refocus our lives on the most important Person, who is truly everything we need.

Below are some ideas for ways to integrate these truths about our loving Creator into fun activities!

Eat: Make fun snacks that reinforce the ideas of the things God created on each day! One fun idea is Creation Trail Mix:

  • Mini Oreos – dark and light
  • Frosted Mini Wheats Cereal – cloudy sky and dusty land
  • Pretzel Sticks and Green and Red M&Ms – trees, bushes, and flowers
  • Orange and Yellow M&Ms – sun, stars, moon, and planets
  • Goldfish Crackers – sea creatures
  • Animal Crackers – animals
  • Marshmallows – pillows (God rested!)

snack copy.pdf

Another great idea is to put each ingredient in baggies and make the snack into a scavenger hunt! Our Out-of-Sync Life provides some fun rhyming clues to find each ingredient. “Creation Story Snacktime” from Ministry Matters provides a super fun interactive snack experience for each day of Creation. One of these ideas is to create a landscape out of foods such as broccoli, celery, apple slices, peanut butter, and/or salad dressing!

Go Out: Go experience some of God’s amazing creation! Take a walk in the park, hike up a mountain, swim in a lake, go to the zoo, a farm, or a museum.

Books: Below are a few books we like that teach core truths related to creation:

  • Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones | The first chapter in this book tells an exciting account of how God created everything in the beginning!
  • A Love Letter From God – P. K. Hallinan | This book describes the amazing love of God for people.
  • All Things Bright and Beautiful – Cecil Frances Alexander | This book beautifully illustrates the hymn about God’s wonderful, unique creation.
  • God Gave Us Sleep – Lisa Tawn Bergren | A little polar bear learns that God made us to need sleep, and life works better when we take time to rest.

Crafts & Sensory Experiences: The Kids Activities Blog provides a bunch of ideas for art projects as simple as coloring sheets to more complex crafts. One craft provides a visual of what it might have looked like when God first created light. They suggest painting the inside of a shoebox black, cutting two holes in it, having your child peek into one of the holes, then shining a flashlight through the other hole. Another idea is to create a “Sky Sensory Bin” using supplies such as shaving cream, glitter, blue decorative stones, mirror tiles, and toy helicopters and airplanes.


A Rocha is an organization centered on the proper care of God’s creation; their Creation Care Camp Curriculum is available free of charge. This program offers exploration activities, memory verses, songs, art projects, and games, all tied together with Bible lessons that demonstrate how God’s Word informs the way we care for His world. A Rocha’s Creation Care Camp teaches kids that God made everything, God is King of everything, and we have an important part in God’s work restoring creation to Himself!

Full Color

We hope you enjoy trying these fun activities that remind kids that God made them and loves them SO much!


God Time Cards :: July

Our elementary kids will continue to learn all about Faith this July. Faith is defined like this: believing that what Jesus did can change me.  We would like to equip you to keep talking about faith at home this summer. To help do this, we want to provide you with this great resource called God Time Cards. These short devotions are designed for elementary aged kids to do during the week. They are fun and engaging – and we hope you and your kids will love them!

Below you will find the God Time Cards for July. Simply click below to get started!

Week 1                    Week 2

Week 3                    Week 4

Week 5

June God Time Cards :: Faith

To kick off the summer, our elementary kids will be learning all about faith. Faith is defined like this: believing that what Jesus did can change me.  We would like to equip you to begin a conversation about faith at home this summer. To help do this, we want to provide you with this great resource called God Time Cards. These short devotions are designed for elementary aged kids to do during the week. They are fun and engaging – and we hope you and your kids will love them!

Below you will find the God Time Cards for June to help you and your family continue learning about faith. Simply click below to get started!

Week 1                    Week 2

Week 3                    Week 4