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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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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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!)

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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.

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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!

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

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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

Elementary God Time Cards for May: Contentment

Contentment is our virtue for the month of May in our elementary classes. Our goal is to help you, as parents, continue teaching your kids about contentment at home during the week. To help you do this, here’s a really helpful resource called God Time Cards. These are short devotions designed specifically for your elementary student. They are fun and engaging – we know you and your kids will love them!

Below you will find May’s God Time Cards to help your child continue learning about the importance of contentment in their life. Simply click below to get started! Have fun!

Contentment 1               Contentment 2

Contentment 3              Contentment 4

Contentment 5

What is My Elementary Child Learning in May?

Do you ever notice that you define yourself by specific things or circumstances that show up in your life? Maybe it’s like there’s this box you carry around with everything that defines you: your stuff, your work, your family, your kids, your gifts and talents, or your home.

But there’s a problem with looking at life like this because if this is how we see our lives it’s all too easy to become preoccupied with the wrong thing.

Think about all the stuff in the box. It’s “your” stuff, right? Or is it?

We tend to talk about our lives using words that highlight our ownership of those things and circumstances. Words like my, ours, and mine. And those words can make a huge difference on how we see the world. As long as we keep using these words, we can tend to believe that our stuff will make us happy and that putting more stuff into our boxes will make us even happier.

But the truth is just the opposite. Something radical happens when we look at our life as not really ours. When we view our life as really God’s gift to us—it changes everything. When we see that all the stuff we have is somehow connected to God and the story He wants to tell with our lives, it begins to change the way we see everything. When our world doesn’t revolve around us, our situations look a lot different.

That’s why this month, we want to explain something to kids about contentment. It is deciding to be happy with what you’ve got. In other words, you can choose to be happy because of what God has actually given you. You can choose to shift your focus away from what you don’t have and toward what God desires to do with the life you have. When you trust Him with your life, you become more focused on being grateful for everything He’s already given to you.

The Bible has a lot to say about contentment. This month, we’re going to unpack several of those moments where people learned something about contentment as well as some key principles about how we can live our lives focused on trusting God no matter what.

See, when it comes right down to it, contentment is a heart issue. It can’t be solved by getting the thing that’s off-limits, the thing that someone else has, or even more of a good thing you already have. In other words, contentment happens when we place our trust in the One who is able to meet our needs each day.

When you teach kids to see their life as a gift from God it sets them up for a life of contentment and fulfillment. There will be no reason to be distracted by what others have, or what’s off limits, or what we had in the past. And when all of us really trust God, we will be content with exactly what He has put in our box for today and won’t worry about the future.

WEEK 1
We kick off our month of contentment with a closer look at the context around our memory verse. In Philippians 4:11b-13, the Apostle Paul wrote about contentment to the church in Philippi. Paul wrote that he has learned to be content no matter what circumstance he was facing, which was a pretty amazing thing to say considering he was writing this while he was under house arrest.

Bottom Line: When you focus on God, He can help you be content. No matter where you are in life, contentment is one of those things that is often difficult to find, even for kids! We pray that when kids focus on God and all that He’s done for them, they’ll find the strength they need to be content.

Our Memory Verse is Philippians 4:12b (NIrV), “I have learned the secret of being content no matter what happens. I am content whether I am well fed or hungry. I am content whether I have more than enough or not enough.” There will be moments when we are only focused on getting more and more stuff. But we need to remember that we can be content with what we have because we can do all things through God who gives us strength.

WEEK 2
In 1 Kings 21:1-19, 27, we find King Ahab whining about not getting something he wants. A guy named Naboth owned a vineyard that Ahab desperately wanted. His wife, Queen Jezebel, took matters into her own hands and at Naboth’s expense, gets Ahab that vineyard.

Bottom Line: When you focus on what you don’t have, it can make you miserable. For Ahab, even though he got what he wanted, it was ultimately a bad move for him. God gives us so much. When we focus on what we don’t or even can’t have, we can become angry and bitter at God for not giving us what we want. God has our best in mind. We should trust Him no matter what.

WEEK 3
We find the Israelites in Exodus 16:2-21; 17:1-4 focusing on what they used to have instead of focusing on God. As they were traveling in the wilderness, they longed to be back in Egypt where they had food and shelter. At the same time, they seemed to forget that in Egypt they were slaves! They were so caught up in what they used to have, that they were missing out on what God was doing in their lives right then and there.

Bottom Line: When you focus on what you used to have, you can miss what you have now. There are times we look back on parts of our life wanting to go back and live those moments again. Kids may want to go back to preschool when they didn’t have homework forgetting that they had an early bedtime AND had to take a nap during the day. When that happens, they forget that right now is pretty great. Times may be hard, but God has us here for a purpose. We can trust Him with the details.

WEEK 4
This week we’ll take a look at Luke 12:13-21 and a story Jesus told about a rich fool. He was so focused on getting more and more that he missed out on opportunities to help others around him. We don’t want kids growing up so focused on their stuff that they miss out on what matters most: loving God and loving each other.

Bottom Line: When you focus on stuff, you can miss what matters. It’s not bad to have nice things. But when having those things and getting more of those things becomes all you think about, we may need to evaluate something. We can become so focused on our stuff that we miss out on the relationships we have. We pray kids will start to discover how to prioritize what matters most.

WEEK 5
We’ll close out the month discovering a little more about one of Jesus’ teachings from the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 6:25-34. Jesus knows that sometimes people worry about every little thing. By telling us about God’s care for the birds and the flowers, God will take care of everything we need.

Bottom Line: When you focus on God, you don’t have to worry. This could be a huge week for some kids in our ministries as they learn that God cares deeply for them and will take care of them. This might not look like they expect, but God will meet their needs.

 

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April God Time Cards

Elementary students at Antioch are learning all about Perseverance this April! Perseverance is refusing to give up when life gets hard. We would like to equip you to continue the conversation about perseverance at home. To help you do this we want to provide this great resource called God Time Cards. These short cards are designed for elementary kids to do as a weekly devotion. They are fun and engaging – and we know you and your kids will love them!

Below you will find the God Time Cards for April to help you and your elementary student continue learning about the importance of perseverance and what it means to keep going when life gets hard. Simply click below to get started! Have fun!

Week 1                    Week 2

Week 3                    Week 4

March God Time Cards

Hope is the virtue of the month for our elementary students this March. Hope is believing that something good can come out of something bad. This spring, it is our goal to equip you to begin a conversation about hope with the kids in your care. To help do this, we want to provide you with this great resource called  God Time Cards. These are short devotions are designed for parents and kids to do together. They are fun, engaging – and we know you’ll love them!

Below you will find 4 God Time Cards to help you and your family continue learning about what God has to say about hope. Simply click below to get started! Enjoy!

Week 1                    Week 2

Week 3                   Week 4