Just a Phase.

By | May 30, 2015

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If someone has ever told you, “It’s just a phase,” chances are it was intended as a consolation or a word of encouragement. More than likely, what they meant was, “Don’t worry. You can survive this. It won’t last forever.” When I first became a mother and my colicky son was crying for hours after each feeding I needed to know there was hope for a different tomorrow. I needed to know there would come a day when I didn’t smell like baby vomit and when the child I loved didn’t cry for hours.

There’s a lot of truth to the idea that your current relationship with your child is “Just a Phase.” But that’s not to suggest that, as parents, we should grit our teeth and hold out for the next phase to come. A phase isn’t something to wish away or hurry past. Because once a phase is over, it’s over.

We only have the opportunity to know our child once as a three-year-old. After 52 short weeks, they turn four. Sure, moving to the next phase means they will stop throwing catastrophic tantrums when you insist they cannot finish the half-eaten breakfast bar they just discovered under their car seat. But it also might mean fewer spontaneous giggles, loss of imagination. It might mean they finally discover “bilzoder” is actually pronounced “bulldozer.” It might mean you have to start answering some questions you weren’t quite ready for.

Whether your child is a toddler, an elementary age kid, a middle schooler, or a high schooler, they’re in a phase.

And the phase won’t last for long.

Every phase is a timeframe in a kid’s life when you can leverage distinctive opportunities to influence their future. But in order to leverage the opportunities of each phase, you have to show up for it.

That may sound obvious, but it can be incredibly challenging at the same time.

It’s easy to get stuck in the phase that came before. It’s baffling at times when you realize your child isn’t the same person you thought you knew last year. When their interests change, or their preferences change, it can be hard to keep up.

It’s easy to rush into the phase that should come later. Maybe it’s because we’re ready to watch a new movie, read a new book, or play a new game, so we stretch the age-limit just a touch. Maybe it’s because—let’s face it—if we can get our son to shoot a basketball through a ten-foot goal when he’s six, we’ve earned serious bragging rights. But childhood isn’t meant to be rushed. If we’re always in a hurry to get to the next phase, we can miss what is unique about the phase our kids are currently in.

So, whatever phase you’re child is in, remember there is something remarkable happening right now. This phase won’t last forever. Don’t rush the clock. Don’t wish away the moments you have.

At Vista we value Parent Equipping, coming alongside of families supporting and assisting parents to develop the Kingdom attitudes and practices of their children. This is an important concept to fully understand and embrace. Christian schools and the local church’s Sunday school have traditionally been looked to as the places where children learn about God, the Bible teaches us that children really need to learn from their parents. , Deuteronomy 6:7 instructs us to take God’s Word and …repeat it again and again to our children. We are to talk about it when we are at home and when we are away on a journey, when we are lying down and when we are getting up again. This is a basic model for teaching children about God in the home. The perspective taught in this passage is that the parents are primarily responsible for the spiritual development of their children.

We know that this is not easy. We know it can be overwhelming. We want to partner with you and your family in the development of worshipful, relational and missional children. You don’t have to do this alone so we have created ways to be on this journey with you:

  • Yearly: Milestone Celebrations – Child Dedications (twice a year) and Baptism
  • Monthly: talk.pray.do – a monthly resource based on Deuteronomy 6, encouraging families to teach their children about God as they go through the ordinary experiences of life. It’s about intentionality within the rhythm of your everyday life. We encourage you to TALK with your children for 15 minutes a day. PRAY at least twice a week in meaningful time together as a family. Then we simply ask that you DO one family night a month. Each month we provide instruction and tools to serve as a springboard for your family time.
  • Weekly: “What did they learn?” email follow ups to allow your family to continue the discussion at home regarding the lesson taught that Sunday. If you ever miss a week, check the Vista Parents Blog for more information.
  • Groups: Family Discipleship small groups that study a particular subject for 6 to 10 weeks. Check the Vista Parents Blog for groups forming or email me if you would like more information, to lead or host one.
  • Vista Parents Blog: As mentioned several times before the Vista Parents Blog is a hub of information for your family with everything from helpful tips, resources, lesson follow ups and important Kids Community updates.
  • Serve: We all go through seasons where serving is hard and requires sacrifice. Jesus is worth that sacrifice — and so are our children. We can trust Him to provide rest and Sabbath while we also serve. Whether it is teaching kids, chaperoning a student event, or serving in Kids Community, let’s remember that little eyes are seeing our actions and believing that they too are called to serve the body of Christ.
  • Family Sunday:  We offer Family Sunday, every 7 weeks or so to allow time for your family to worship and serve together.

Let’s do this together! Its just a phase and we don’t want to miss it.

Habakkuk, Prophet to Judah | Habakkuk 1–3

TRUST AND OBEY

Screen Shot 2015-05-20 at 9.13.37 AMYou may be familiar with the well-known hymn Trust and Obey. The lyrics were written in the 1800s by John H. Sammis, a Presbyterian minister. They were inspired by a young man who stood to give a testimony after an evangelistic meeting held by D.L. Moody. As he was speaking, it became evident that the man was not very fa- miliar with the Bible or Christian doctrine, but the last phrase of his testimony spoke volumes to those listening: “I’m not quite sure. But I’m going to trust, and I’m going to obey.”

Trusting God means believing in Him, no matter what the circumstances. For example, think back to Abraham. God asked him to sacrifice his only son, Isaac. On the way up the mountain Isaac asked his father about why they hadn’t brought a sacrificial lamb. Abraham’s response was that God would provide. All the evidence would point to Abraham’s having to use his own son as a sacrifice. Yet, Abraham trusted God. He showed his trust by obeying what God told him to do, even though his feelings were telling him to do the opposite. Often, we say we trust God, but we refuse to do what He says because we are afraid or we don’t understand why. Our trust is evident by our obedience. Abraham’s actions proved his complete trust in Jehovah Jireh—the Lord will provide.

When we walk with the Lord, in the light of His Word,

What a glory He sheds on our way!

While we do His good will, He abides with us still,

And with all who will trust and obey.

Trust and obey, for there’s no other way

To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.


Review: Last week we learned about the prophet Zephaniah. He told Judah that God was going to destroy them because they were sinning against Him. They were worshipping false gods in direct opposition to what God had commanded them to do. Zephaniah told them to repent and turn back to God. Zephaniah also talked about The Day of the Lord which was to come.

What words of encouragement does Zephaniah give to Judah about their future restoration? God is with them; God delights in them; they will have His love.


Scripture Reading
:  Habakkuk 1–3


TALK

Habakkuk the prophet is different than the other prophets in that he does not record a message he carried to either Israel or Judah. This book, instead, contains a conversation between the prophet and God.

  1. Chapters 1 and 2 contain a conversation between the prophet Habakkuk and God. What was Habakkuk’s first question of God? Why is the evil of Judah going unpunished?
  2. How did God respond to Habakkuk’s first complaint? God said that He was going to send Babylon to destroy Judah because of Judah’s sin.
  3. What was Habakkuk’s second question? How can God use a country like Babylon to carry out Judah’s punish- ment? Babylon was even more wicked than Judah.
  4. What was God’s response to Habakkuk’s second complaint? God said that Babylon was also going to be punished.
  5. In chapter 3 the tone changes. Habakkuk’s response is different. Reread verses 17–19. What was Habakkuk’s final conclusion? Habakkuk has learned to trust in God no matter the circumstances. He makes the proclamation that God is sovereign, and that he will be joyful in the lord.
  6. Have you ever questioned God because something did not go your way even though you asked God to make it so? You will notice that God was not angry with Habakkuk for his questions. A well-known example of one who questioned God was Job. He did not understand why God was allowing him to suffer. God did not get angry with Job. He knew Job was suffering and understood his emotions. It’s important to remember, though, that Job did not continue to go on complaining and feeling sorry for himself. He sought God, and in time was comforted by Him.

Do not question God because you think that He is wrong. Instead, ask God to help increase your faith to trust Him no matter what the circumstances, even when things don’t go your way.


 

PRAY

Adoration: “Because of the lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness” (lamentations 3:22–23). Offer a prayer of praise to God because of who He is; He is unable to be unfaithful.

Confession: “trust in the lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:5–6). Confess to God that sometimes you do not trust Him and want to do things your way.

Thanksgiving: “Because of the lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness” (lamentations 3:22–23). Thank God for His love and compassion.

Supplication: “i do believe; help me overcome my unbelief” (Mark 9:24). Ask God to help you to know Him better and trust Him more.


DO

Supplies: 3 clear containers (2 smaller, 1 larger); water; oil; food coloring; tape, Sharpie marker (The size of the containers and the amount of liquids does not matter.)

Fill one of the smaller containers with water and the other smaller container with oil.
On each container, place a strip of tape long enough to write a word on.
Show the kids the oil container and tell them it represents worry. Write the word “worry” on the tape label.

Explain that worry means to be afraid or concerned because you do not know what is going to happen. Show the kids the water container and tell them that it represents trusting God. Write “trust” on the water container label. Explain that you are dropping some food coloring into the water so they can see it better.

Discuss the fact that trusting God means we remember He is in control and knows everything. We do not need to be afraid, because God is always taking care of us.

Does God want us to worry or to trust Him? Can we worry and trust God at the same time? Let’s see what our “worry” and “trust” containers tell us. Do worry and trust mix? Can they both be happening at the same time?

Pour some of the water and some of the oil into the third container. The items will seem to mix at the beginning, but they will soon separate, with the “worry” floating to the top. Hold up the container for the kids to see. Accord- ing to our container, worry and trust can’t mix together and be happening at the same time. Our hearts cannot be fully trusting God if we are worrying.

God wants us to trust in Him whenever we are tempted to worry, because He cares for us. He is in control and knows about everything that has happened in the past, what is happening now in the present, and everything that will happen in the future. God is more than worthy of our full trust.

Lesson: May 31st

Zephaniah, Prophet to Judah | Zephaniah 1–3

By | May 20, 2015

OLD TO NEW

The writings of the prophets gave warnings and pronounced judgment on a sinful people, but they also gave messages of hope for a new beginning. This was a ray of light during a dark time for Israel; something they could look forward to happening in the future. As believers in Jesus Christ, we also look forward to a new beginning when Jesus returns to earth as promised.

Although their restoration was a future event, Israel always had the opportunity to make things new in their current situation. They were encouraged by the prophets to repent and turn to God. If they did this, God would forgive them and purify their hearts; God would make them new. They would no longer follow the old ways of worshipping false gods. They would be renewed.

We read in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” The return of Christ will be a wonderful time for believers, but we do not have to wait until that time to be made new. When we accept Christ, He enters our lives and makes us new.

Review: Last week we learned about the boy king Josiah. He became king when he was only eight years old, but right from the beginning he did what was right in God’s eyes. He tore down all the altars and false idols, and he restored the temple of God. While the temple was being restored, the Book of the Law was found. Josiah had it read to the entire nation of Judah, and he renewed the covenant of God.

What event did Josiah celebrate which reminded the people of God’s deliverance? The Passover.

Screen Shot 2015-05-20 at 9.13.27 AMScripture Reading:  Zephaniah 1:1–2:3; 3:1–20


 

TALK

Zephaniah was sent to prophesy against Judah. He prophesied during the reign of King Josiah, and his message was possibly the reason behind Josiah’s reforms.

  1. What are the names of the false gods Judah is guilty of worshipping? (1:4–5) Baal and Molech. The nations around Judah were known for worshipping numerous false gods. Why do you think God specifically men- tioned these two gods in this passage? Read Leviticus 18:21 to see what followers of these gods practiced. Sacrifice of children. Although Judah was told not to worship any false gods, the worship of these gods was blatant rebellion against God as they were specifically told not to worship Baal or Molech.
  2. Webster’s dictionary defines rebellion as “opposition to one in authority or dominance.” To be in opposition
    to someone means that you want the exact opposite of what the other person wants. Judah was in direct opposition to God, yet they thought that God would do nothing, almost as if God did not see what they were doing (1:12). How often do our actions reflect those of Judah? Every time we sin we are rebelling against God, going in direct opposition to Him, acting as if God does not see what we are doing. Read Hebrews 4:13. What does the last line say about our actions? We must give an account. Just as Judah was to be judged, we too will be judged for our actions.
  3. The final verses of chapter 1 describe the Day of the Lord as one of great judgment. What does Zephaniah plead with the people to do in Zephaniah 2:1–3? Seek the Lord; humble themselves; obey His commands; seek righteousness and humility.
  4. Zephaniah dedicates the entire third chapter to a message of hope for Judah’s future restoration. What hope does verse 17 give to the people? God is with them; He takes great delight in them; they will have His love and He will rejoice with them.
  5. Read the following verses and rejoice in God’s promises to us as recited in our Memory Verse: God is with us: Isaiah 41:10 God takes pleasure in us: Psalm 149:4
    God loves us: 1 John 4:10 God rejoices over us: Luke 15:7,10

 

PRAY

Using the Memory Verse as well as the verses in the Talk section, question #5, use your time to

  • Praise God for being a promise keeper.
  • Claim the promises that God has made to us.
  • Ask God to help you keep away from worshipping false idols.

Memory Verse:

Zephaniah 3:17: “The LORD your God is with you, He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.”

Use the following motions to teach this unit’s memory verse, or make up your own motions:

The Lord your God (point both hands to heaven)
Is with you (draw arms in to a hug)
He is mighty to save (raise both arms in strength)
He will take great delight in you (use fingers to draw a smile on your face) He will quiet you (use finger over mouth)

With His love (cross arms over heart)
He will rejoice over you with singing (jump up and down in celebration)


DO

Supplies: Coffee filter; red food coloring; rubber gloves (optional)
Take a white coffee filter and hold it in your hand. Tell the kids that the filter represents them. Say, “At the beginning of life, children commit no knowledgeable sins, but we all have sin, even kids.”

Take a pencil and write on the coffee filter the name of common sins. Let the kids give suggestions like lying or stealing.

Next, use the red food coloring and explain that this item represents the blood of Jesus. When God forgives us, He uses the blood of Jesus to wash away our sins. Squirt the coffee filter lightly with the food coloring. Continue to squirt until the red color spreads around the filter covering all the penciled letters.

The prophets brought God’s message of judgment on His people, but they also ended their messages with words of hope. God would always forgive His people if they repented, and He would always restore them back to Him. Since the beginning of time, God has had a plan for our salvation. He sent His Son to die in our place. Jesus shed His blood, and when we ask God to forgive us the blood of Jesus covers our sin. 1 John 1:7 says, “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.”

Lesson: May 24th

Josiah’s Reforms | 2 Chronicles 34–35

By | May 15, 2015

When you check out a book from the library, how many authors are credited with writing the book? Some books may list two or three authors, but the vast majority have just one. Imagine how difficult it would be to have several authors from different backgrounds each write a chapter of a book and still have the story make sense. Strangely enough, this is exactly what God chose to do.

The Bible is comprised of 66 books written by over 40 different people over a period of 1,500 years. The authors lived in different places, spoke different languages, and had different walks of life: kings, physicians, fishermen, tax collectors, priests, royal servants, and slaves. The Bible addresses many topics: faith, love, family, government, education, good vs. evil, money, and law. None of the authors knew what the other authors were writing, yet each book of the Bible points to one big story—God’s plan for mankind. In 2 Peter 1:21, we read, “For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” God may have used various authors, but He orchestrated the whole thing. There is no part of Scripture that did not originate from heaven.

The priest, Hilkiah, ran with joy to tell Josiah that he had found the Book of the Law. God’s Word to His people had been found, and they wasted no time in having it read. Even though you may have multiple copies of the Bible in your house, it’s lost until you spend time reading it.


Review: Last week we learned about the prophet Micah and his message from God to Judah. The leaders of Judah were responsible for leading the people astray and worshipping false gods. They refused to believe they were guilty of sin and blindly expected God to save them from destruction. Micah gave Judah the formula to a righteous relationship with God.

 

Screen Shot 2015-05-15 at 11.05.01 PMWhat three things did Micah say the people should do to live righteously? Act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with God.

 

Scripture Reading: 2 Chronicles 34-35

 

Memory Verse: Zephaniah 3:17

The LORD your God is with you, He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.”

Use the following motions to teach this unit’s memory verse, or make up your own motions:

The Lord your God (point both hands to heaven)

Is with you (draw arms in to a hug)

He is mighty to save (raise both arms in strength)

He will take great delight in you (use fingers to draw a smile on your face) He will quiet you (use finger over mouth)

With His love (cross arms over heart)

He will rejoice over you with singing (jump up and down in celebration)


TALK

Josiah is the third boy king. Joash became king when he was seven, and Manasseh became king when he was twelve. Joash started well, but ended terribly. Manasseh started terribly but repented and ended well.

  • How old was Josiah when he became king?
    • 8 years old.
  • In 2 Chronicles 33:22, how does the Bible describe Josiah’s father, Amon?
    • He did evil in the eyes of the Lord.
  • How does the Bible describe Josiah?
    • He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord and walked in the ways of his father David, not turning aside to the right or to the left. Since Josiah’s father was wicked, how do you think Josiah learned how to do what was right? How important is it to listen to godly teaching even when you are young?
  • When Josiah was only 12 years old, he began to purge Judah and Jerusalem. What things did he do?
    • Took down the Asherah poles, idols, and cast images; tore down the altars of Baal; cut down the incense altars. Josiah could have thought that because he was so young he couldn’t make a difference. It would have been much easier for him to have just left things the way they were. Read 1 Timothy 4:12. What does it say about being young? Paul is encouraging Timothy that he can still be a godly example in spite of his young age. We, too, can be examples at any age in speech, conduct, love, faith, and purity. How can you be an example in these ways to family, classmates, or neighbors?
  • While Hilkiah, the high priest, was supervising the repair of the temple, he found something. What was it?
    • The Book of the Law. This was possibly the first five books of the Bible. The Bible says it was found, which means it had been lost. The actual book had not only been lost to the people, but the God of the book had been lost to them because they were not living according to His commands. The Book of the Law was just laying around somewhere collecting dust from lack of use. Where is your Bible? Is it on the shelf collecting dust, only to be brought out on Sunday? Whether or not we read God’s Word, whatever God said will still happen, because God’s Word is eternal. (Psalm 119:89)
  • What did Josiah do when the Book of the Law was read to him?
    • He tore his robes and sent Hilkiah to the prophet to interpret what was written in the Law.
  • What did the prophet say would happen?
    • The prophet told Hilkiah that judgment was coming to Judah because of their sins against God. This would not happen until after the death of Josiah because he humbled himself before God, and God promised to spare him the grief.
  • What event did Josiah celebrate?
    • The Passover. The Bible says that it had not been observed to such an extent since the days of Samuel; no other king celebrated the Passover as did Josiah. This brought the people back to the time when God had delivered them from Egypt; back to their covenant with God.

 


 

PRAY

Adoration: “Your word, O Lord, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens” (Psalm 119:89). Give praise to God that He is unchanging and that His Word is forever.

Confession: “. . . they have not acted in accordance with all that is written in this book” (2 Chronicles 34:21). Confess to God specifically when you have not acted according to His Word.

Thanksgiving: “So at that time the entire service of the Lord was carried out for the celebration of the Passover . . .” (2 Chronicles 35:16). The Israelites celebrated what God had done for them when He delivered them from the Death Angel. Give thanks to God as a celebration of a specific time when He helped you.

Supplication: “The king renewed the covenant of the Lord—to follow the Lord and keep His commands, regulations and decrees with all his heart and all his soul, and to obey the words of the covenant written in this book” (2 Chronicles 34:31). Make a covenant with God to keep His commands. Ask God to give you the strength to keep your covenant.



DO

Supplies: Any set of blocks that can be used to stack and build; stopwatch Place the blocks in a pile on a hard surface.

Divide into 2 teams.

When you say “Go” the first person on Team 1 runs to the blocks and sets one up, then runs back to tag the next person in line. Continue the relay for one minute to build a tower as high as the team can. The second team now has one minute to take apart the tower one block at a time. Team 1 (the building team) now has 30 seconds to go back and rebuild as much of the tower as possible. Then Team 2 has 30 seconds to take apart the tower one block at a time. Team 1 rebuilds as much as possible in 15 seconds (one block at a time), then Team 2 has 15 seconds to take apart as much as they can one block at a time.

Use this activity to discuss the wicked and righteous kings of Judah. A wicked king would reign and build up the idols and altars to worship false gods. Then a righteous king would reign and tear down the altars. A wicked king would reign and build the altars again. A righteous king would again tear them down. The people of Judah were in a cycle which would eventually lead them into captivity.

Do you remember the kings Hezekiah, Manasseh, and Amon? Were they were wicked or righteous?

Hezekiah—righteous

Manasseh—wicked and then turned to God

Amon—wicked

 

(Lesson: May 17th)

Shine A Light! – Fruit of the Spirit song

Finish your week off by some family ‘dance’ time!

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