Tag Archive: Kids


The King’s Garden

God-Write-the-BibleEven those of us who might boldly declare our status (by God’s grace) as born again believers have a tendency to forget that we have been literally and spiritually transported out of the old kingdom and into the new one (Colossians 1:13), one where often the old worldly economy, tools, and techniques simply won’t suffice.  Although we might readily understand and openly acknowledge the forgiveness of our sins, we still need to be regularly reminded of our utter dependence upon the power of God and His glorious Word and the absolute necessity of rejecting the impotent inventions and dangerous devices of this world!

In Colossians 3, the Lord reminds us of the vital importance of not only knowing where we now live, but also of mortifying all that accompanied us from the old kingdom. We are instructed to take off (mortify) the old man and instead put on the new man who is being renewed in Christ. (Colossians 3:9-11) This is our daily duty and joy as believers, one we must perform with diligence and one that can only be accomplished by the power of the Lord Himself.

We must cease from returning to the flesh if we truly desire a victorious walk and abundant race in the strength of our Heavenly Father. I pray this simple story encourages and reminds us all to truly turn to Jesus Christ, our King, walking in the Spirit rather than the flesh.

“If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” Galatians 5:25

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THE KING’S GARDEN

Once there was a very talented and creative gardener who lived in a beautiful kingdom. All sorts of wonderful plants thrived throughout his property. He even grew plants on his roof. The gardener had flowers, and vegetables, fruit trees and even several species no one had ever heard of before. The plants were bigger and more lush than many had ever seen. And the fruits and vegetables were more delicious than almost anything anyone had ever tasted, other than the king’s, of course. People from all around the kingdom purposely planned to journey past the gardener’s house just to gaze upon all the amazing florae. He received an abundance of praise from the people and over time grew quite fond of it. Day and night, the gardener could always be seen outside trimming, planting, and planning with a smile on his face and a song in his heart.

One day there was position open at the palace garden. Over the years, many had attempted to care for the king’s plants and unfortunately most had failed. The gardener only lived a few miles down the hill from the palace and was quite confident he would make a superb gardener for the King. He immediately applied and was quickly hired. Upon starting, he was handed a letter written by the king himself, but the gardener was so excited he forgot to even open it. Instead he gathered up all the equipment from his house, loaded it onto a cart and pushed it all the way up to the palace.

As he entered the enormous garden gateway, the guard held out his hand, stopping the gardener dead in Hagi_Castle_Garden,_Western_Honshu,_+Japanhis tracks. The guard explained that there could be no outside tools brought into the king’s garden. The gardener could only use what was supplied to him by the king. For the first time in a very long time, he felt a flood of worry and bewilderment pour over. The king’s garden required tools and techniques that were entirely foreign to the gardener and this was something he was definitely not ready for.

The gardener and his family had not always lived in the beautiful kingdom. He was actually born in a kingdom on the other side of mountains, one that was much different than where he lived now. While still in on the other side, the gardener’s dad handed down to his young son all the tools and techniques he would need in order to grow amazing plants, at least until now. The gardener really thought he had all the knowledge and skills he’d ever need. Unfortunately, none of the ways he had learned from his dad would work properly in the king’s garden and soon the king’s plants began to wither and die. This was also something the gardener had not experienced in a very long time. Those walking by began to murmur and some even laughed at him. Others just looked away, feeling both sad for the plants and for the gardener. He had lost all the praise he was so accustomed to receiving.

Many palace gardeners had come and gone and many had failed. The gardener knew he didn’t want to be numbered among those who had been defeated, but also knew he would need to do something he hadn’t done in a very, very long time. He knew he’d have to ask for help. “Why is the king being so difficult anyway,” he often mumbled to himself? One day he finally humbled himself enough to ask the guard if there were any books in the palace library on tending the king’s plants. The guard explained that the only way to know how to properly care for the king’s garden was to talk with the king himself. The gardener’s heart sank. “Oh, no! Not the king,” he answered with a tone of discouragement in his voice. “How can I possibly ask the king?”

He definitely did not want that. After all, he was supposed to be the best gardener in the whole kingdom. He didn’t want to appear like he didn’t actually know what he was doing, especially to the king. He reasoned within himself that this would only make it seem as though he wasn’t really a good gardener. He strove for weeks attempting to figure out the right way of caring for each of the plants in the king’s garden. He got up early every morning and went home late every night. It wasn’t long before he grew extremely frustrated and terribly exhausted.

Soon many of the plants were dying and inside he felt the same starvation, but he just couldn’t put aside his pride to ask the king for help. So instead, he chose to return to his old house where at least he felt like he belonged. At least he could tend to the familiar plants and begin seeing success again. After a couple weeks, he was back to his old routine, but deep down he knew there was more. There was something missing in it all, but he just couldn’t quite put his finger on it. One thing was for sure, tending to his familiar garden just wasn’t satisfying like it once was.

One day, while trimming back a few bushes, something popped into his mind. “The king’s letter,” he thought to himself. “In all the excitement, I never read his letter.” He wasn’t sure if he should even bother, but curiosity and frankly, the lack of satisfaction got the best of him. After searching a while, he found it. Sitting down in front of his fireplace, he carefully opened the envelope and began reading the king’s message aloud. It simply said,

            Dear Gardener,

            If you are weak; if you are weary, then come to Me. Learn of Me and I will give you rest.

           Love,

                    ~The King

The gardener read the letter several times. Each time it was like a tiny seed was being planted deeper and deeper within his own heart. At first, it was difficult to believe, but after thinking long and hard, he realized it wasn’t the king who was being so difficult. The gardener finally understood that he was the one being so stubborn and prideful.  “How could I have been so foolish,” he wondered to himself. “After all, who could possibly have better tools and knowledge than the king?”  He immediately stood and raced to the king, never looking back, never returning to his old garden again.

“Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:13-14

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Planting Summer Seeds

IMG_12017981708482GOOD EVANGELISM HABITS: Over the summer, it’s easy for children to forget they still have the exciting privilege of sharing God’s Word with others. Sharing is oftentimes a scary thing to think about for children (and even many adults). I mean, walking up to complete strangers and asking them if they believe in Jesus… how unnatural to our flesh!  That’s why it’s so important for children to learn good evangelism habits early on. Once they see that it’s really not that scary and that many people will at least respectfully listen, they’ll grow that much more lovingly bold at an early age. Never forget, we have the truth and the Lord on our side so we really have nothing to fear!    

Because talking to others doesn’t always come easily, comprehensive, biblical tracts can be a nice way to break the ice. With that in mind, I’ve put together a simple, black and white Bible tract that parents can print and children can cut, fold, and color.  (Reminder: Carefully read through tracts before purchasing or printing. Not all tracts are biblical. Sadly, many focus on man, not God.)

Click “HERE” to go to the Kid’s Tract PDF. Simply download it and print.20140524_183434

A SUMMER FAMILY PROJECTLet evangelism be a fun summer family project. First, look up a few Bible verses on evangelism such as Matthew 28:19Acts 1:8, and Romans 1:15-16 during your family devotional time. Then pray about making a certain day each week designated as an evangelism day. Start out by going to familiar areas such as your neighborhood houses and grocery stores. It goes without says, but please, please, please… Safety First. Perhaps also bring a small notebook to write down names and prayer requests from people you talk with. Then consider designating another day each week to pray specifically as a family for those you’ve shared with.  Follow-up is always another great option.  Again, please us godly wisdom when following up. Some situations may warrant going with another adult instead and then sharing the story with your children later.

EVANGELISM AS A LIFESTYLE: It’s definitely beneficial to designate specific times to focus on outreach and evangelism, but it’s as much of a blessing to share the good news of Jesus as part of our daily worship unto Him. We so often have our plans, but the Lord directs our steps. Sometimes the Lord’s plans might be interwoven. For example, we all go to the grocery store, gas stations, restaurants, etc. Why not use those day-to-day trips as opportunities to tell others about Jesus? I personally make a habit of asking waiters and waitresses if they have any prayer requests. Many are happy to share a little about their children, schooling, etc. Often, it opens a door for further conversation which hopefully leads to the truth about the Lord.

These daily demonstrations of our love for the Lord and others is key, not only for our own growth, but the growth of our children. Kids are so keen to recognize hypocrisy. If we simply go to church on Sunday mornings and have no other avenues demonstrating our Christian walk, they will quickly see the dichotomy in our lives. When our daily walk is so shallow, whether we mean to or not, what we’re really telling them is that Jesus is only a microcosm of our lives. Yes, He died for our sins. Yes, He rose from the grave. And although we’re happy to have Him as our Savior, we really resist letting Him be our All in All. We often are sending the very clear message that Jesus is important, but not really that important compared to everything and everyone else.

Having daily Bible study, prayers, discussions, application, biblical consequences in discipline, biblical education, outreach, and evangelism are all excellent tools in growing in the grace of God. They are also such a blessing to everyone around us.

“I will go in the strength of the Lord GOD: I will make mention of Your righteousness, even of Your’s only. O God, You have taught me from my youth: and hitherto have I declared Your wondrous works.” Psalm 71:16-17

“The living, the living, he shall praise You, as I do this day: the father to the children shall make known Your truth.” Isaiah 38:19

ICE BREAKERSOften we struggle with how to make that first connection. Here are some thoughts on helping break the ice:

  • Be genuine. Remember the person you’re talking with is a lost and eternal soul.  Most people will at least listen when they see you really care. One good quote to remember, “Evangelism is a conversations, not a presentation.” Take time to listen and care, but also be sure to take time to then swing the conversation to Jesus.
  • Handing someone a tract is a great ice breaker, but if you’re able, take the time to share the truth found in the tract.
  • Ask questions.  Ask questions. Ask questions. Many times, asking good questions helps open the door to good conversations.  Here are a few: “Could I ask you a quick question?”  “What are your thoughts about eternity?”  “Do you think the Bible is an important book?”  “We like to pray to Jesus. Do you have anything we could pray for?” Remember, if you’re going to ask questions, be ready to listen.
  • Don’t forget to pray for the Lord to direct your steps and conversations. We always want to be led by the Spirit! After all, God knows best.
  • Never forget to let the joy of the Lord be your strength. Although sharing is sometimes intimidating, it shouldn’t be daunting. Let the love of your Savior shine through. After all, He’s promised to never leave or forsake you. (Hebrews 13:5)
  • The more we share, the easier it gets.
  • Don’t listen to your flesh. Although there will be times you just can’t stop and talk, we often make excuses that shouldn’t be listened to. Your flesh will stir up all kinds of fear and doubt, but take those steps of faith with confidence. Open your mouth and speak. The Lord will do the rest. (Matthew 5:2, Acts 8:35, Acts 10:34)
  • People are often willing to share their opinions about everything, so why not share in return?
  • When in doubt, share the Gospel. You will never be able to answer every question. If you get stuck, there’s nothing wrong with simply going back to what you believe and why you believe it.
  • Keep studying the Word. Although you’re not going to have all the answers, you want to keep studying the Word to prepare your heart and mind. It can also be helpful to do some research and watch others share with others. I often find helpful questions and answers by listening to other evangelizing. (2 Timothy 2:15, 1 Peter 3:15)

“How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who proclaims peace, who brings  glad tidings of good things, who proclaims salvation, who says to Zion, “Your God reigns!” Isaiah 52:7

The Gracious Gift

Castle in FallOnce there was a kingdom with a very great king.  Every year the people of the kingdom had a special celebration filled with a wonderful time of giving to the king.  On this special day everyone from the kingdom would come to the castle and present the king with amazing presents hoping he would choose their’s as the best gift for that year. Whoever the king chose as the best giver would have the privilege of sitting with him for the remainder of the celebration. Some people enjoyed being close to the king because they believed the king made them look great. Others, although a minority, loved being by the king just to be with him. They loved talking with him and seeing how he handled the kingdom. They simply loved the king.

This was a very special year for one little boy.  His parents had finally agreed to allow him to participate in the giving celebration.  Gregory was only seven, but it felt like he’d been waiting for an eternity.  He couldn’t contain his excitement.  He desperately desired to win the event for one simple reason. He just wanted to get to know his king. Gregory really wanted to win! He was so excited he could barely sleep that first night. He got up early to take a walk around his neighborhood.  “I’ve got to come up with a great gift,” he thought to himself.  But he had one little problem.  Even after saving his allowances for two straight years, he only had $30 to buy something. As he strolled around the familiar neighborhood circuit, he began to notice many of his neighbors had already begun working on their presents.  He saw a large giraffe in one backyard while another neighbor had purchased a beautiful fruit tree filled with ripe pomegranates. Another family had been working on building the king a marvelous flying machine. One man was hand crafting a beautiful marble sculpture in his front yard. Walking through the neighborhood, Gregory began to grow more and more discouraged.

When he arrived back home, he was almost ready to give up.  “What can I get the king for such a little amount of money,” he mumbled under his breath. Waving his hands up in surrender, he retreated to his room.  He was so sad, he even missed supper that night.  The next morning he stayed in his room, not wanting to see any more gifts he would soon be competing against. Almost a week went by with nothing but discouragement and frustration to guide his way. Then Gregory finally became so disquieted in his heart he simply started crying out to the king. He knew the king was great, but he really didn’t know if even the king would hear his faraway pleas. Then it happened.  He decided he would give it one last shot.  After all, the party was only a day away. He began pacing in his room as he tried to arrive at a winning idea.  “I have to be with the king,” he said with determination in his heart.”I just have to!” All morning he walked back and forth and back and forth almost like a soldier during marching practice.  All of a sudden, as if sent by the king himself, an idea flew into his mind.  At first he wasn’t sure, but then a big smile slowly appeared across his face.  He knew, he just knew this would be the winning idea!

Gregory sprinted over to the spare bedroom where all the boxes and wrapping paper were stored.  His parents were happy to see he was finally back on track. He spent all afternoon looking for just the right box and just the right paper.  That night he slept soundly, knowing with confidence that he would soon be sitting by his king. As the sun peered through his curtains, enlightening his room, he hopped out of bed as if a rabbit. His parents and he gathered their gifts and began the long trek to the castle.  By the time they arrived, the line was all the way out the castle doors and down the main street.  Gregory waited patiently, remaining confident even Fall Trail 1after seeing the many spectacular presents awaiting the king. He saw peacocks and plow horses, rubies and  diamonds, glistening golden vases and large lions in cages. He overheard people talking about the kinds of gifts that had won in years gone by. One year, a tremendous tiger as white as the snow had won. Another year the winner had brought a beautiful fruit tree as tall as a four story house. This tree could actually produce three different kinds of fruit.  Gregory remembered the year the tree had won. That was when he was four.

Finally, the sun was setting and Gregory had made it into castle’s throne room.  It was a large room lined with marble from floor to ceiling.  It echoed with voices as the people huddled around to see the remaining gifts.  Oohs and aahs filled the room.  Gregory had been so focused on seeing the king, he hadn’t realized until that very moment that he was actually the last person in line.  This made him a little nervous knowing if the king wasn’t pleased, there would be no one behind him to make him happy again.

There were only three people ahead of him and he could hear everyone in the huge room talking about the day’s events.  Some were even arguing over their own gifts, believing, of course, that they were the best.  His heart began to pound and knees started to shake. “Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea,” he thought to himself.  Then only one person stood between him and the king.  Gregory could now see the king’s face.  The king glanced over to the little boy and gave him a smile, as if to assure him it would be okay.  It was almost like the king had been waiting all day just for him.  That was the assurance he needed.  Finally, after waiting for almost seven hours, it was time.

The crowd grew silent, noticing the only one left was a little boy that most didn’t even know.  The people began to whisper to one another.  A few even chuckled.  “Who does this boy think he is?” a few grumbled.  “He’s wasting our time,” they complained.  They couldn’t quite make out what he had in his hand, but they all figured this would be the worst gift ever.  Gregory slowly approached the king.  This was the first time he had ever seen him this close before. The prince walked down to meet him, escorting him to his father. Gregory slowly handed the king his little gift wrapped in paper his family had saved from his birthday party the year before.  A million thoughts flew through his head.  Then the room fell silent and Gregory felt like it was just him and the king.  The king began to open his present, carefully peeling the paper. The people could not wait to see what was inside.

The king then opened the little cardboard box lid.  His fingers reached inside, pulling out a small piece of paper. The people fixed their gaze on the king as he carefully unfolded it.  His eyes seemed to twinkle as he finished reading.  Gregory watched and waited for what seemed like an eternity.  Then the king rose to his feet and lifted his arm. “Thank you all!” he began. “I have received many wonderful gifts today, but as you all know, only one can be the winner.”  The people all leaned forward with anticipation.  “This year, the winner is…”  Many in the audience were sure they would be this year’s winner.  The king then reached down and picked up the 7 year old boy still standing at his feet.  “This year the winner is Gregory.”  The people could not believe it. The crowd was buzzing with amazement!

How could this little boy with his little box and little piece of paper be the winner?  It was impossible.  The king continued… “This boy has not only given me the best gift this year, but the best gift ever!”  You could hear people gasp and complain throughout the room. “He will not only be able to be with me for today, but because of his gracious gift, Gregory will be able to visit me any time he wants for his whole life.”  The people could not believe it! Everyone was excited to discover what was on that little piece of paper, but the king chose not to tell them, at least not yet.

The rest of the evening all the people of the kingdom enjoyed great food and a festival filled with games, music, and much more. But Gregory simply enjoyed being with his king.  He couldn’t believe it.  He just loved looking and listening to the king.  They talked all night long. As people walked by the king’s table they kept asking him what the boy had given him.  The king would simply smile, reassuring them to be patient.  The next morning the king sent out invitations to all the people in his kingdom, requesting their presence at noon on the first day of the following week. The invitation explained that the king would finally reveal to all Gregory’s gracious gift. The people could not wait! The following Sunday people from all around the kingdom made their way to the castle. Right at noon the king stood and explained what made Gregory’s gift so special.

“You see,” began the king. “For many years now people have brought me many wonderful gifts, but no one has ever given me a gift quite like this one.”  One person in the crowd just couldn’t wait any longer. “Please king,” he cried. “Tell us what was on the paper.”  The king smiled.  “The paper had seven simple words on it.” The people all listened carefully as the king continued. “The paper said, ‘THANK YOU MY DEAR KING, THANK YOU!'”

The people looked quite confused.  “You see,” explained the king.  “Although many wonderful gifts have been given to me over the years, I’ve never really needed any of them. After all, I already own everything in the kingdom.  What I’ve really wanted all along is you, not your things.  I want your hearts.  I want you to willingly be my people. That’s what my kingdom is all about.  Only after you truly become my people, will you finally get to know me as your personal king.  This boy’s gift is exactly what I’ve been looking for these many years.  Gregory’s gift has revealed his deep, heartfelt thanks. It has revealed his willingness to give me nothing less than his heart.”

People talked about Gregory’s gracious gift for many years to come, reminding one another that it wasn’t the objects, but their hearts that they should willingly and humbly give the king each and every day; hearts overflowing with thanksgiving to their gracious and glorious king.  This is what the king was truly searching for all along.

“My son, give me your heart, and let your eyes observe my ways” Proverbs 23:26.  

“O Lord, open my lips; and my mouth shall show forth Your praise. For You desire not sacrifice; else would I give it: You delight not in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise” Psalm 51:15-17.

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