Are you desiring a more simple kind of faith? If so, this Chapter for you!
A lot of interest in starting Bible Experiences in different places and contexts has been expressed these past couple of weeks. It has served as a compelling motivation to re-visit by book writing endeavor and face the editing challenges I had been avoiding. I want to thank Tricia, a home schooling mom in North Carolina, Courtney my dear friend who is starting a Bible Experience as a new ministry in her church, and recent web-site inquiries from moms from through out the country for unwittingly encouraging me to continue the labor of love I have started.
The result is me publishing/ posting the second chapter of "Jesus Crashed My Play Date." I am so excited to be sharing in this chapter more details of what it is like or what to expect when having a Bible Experience and some guiding principles to making it fun and rewarding. I won't spill any more cause I'm really hoping you'll read it for yourself and maybe even bless me with some feedback! (I have already posted the first Chapter in a previous blog, which you are welcome to check out if you haven't already.)
Let's continue the adventure!
I received quite a few weird and confused looks when I pulled out my daughter's blocks during our Bible discussion. This particular evening, my home-based community of faith was going over 1 Peter. It had gotten quite emotional with passages on submission and the whole suffering them wasn't exactly a fun dinner topic.
It was time for God to intervene, and what a better way than through play?
"I want everyone to take a few blocks & a few scraps of paper" I explained. "On each piece of paper write down what is most important to you (a necessary stone to make a community of faith structurally sound) and then tape it to a block."
The next week, allowing time for people to search their hearts and make their faith treasures tangible, we attentively listened to each person & child share what he or she wrote on their blocks and why.
Once we shared, we promptly handed our spiritual stones to my six year daughter who began building the house (or castle as she put it.)
Here are the stones that built our house:
As we literally put into practice 1 Peter 2:5, we became co-creators of our faith community, with the Spirit of Christ residing among us and binding us in love.
A transformation of our faith, community, and lives began that evening... and it all started when we accepted God's invitation to PLAY!!
So how bout your play group, family, or church? Are you ready to play?
LMK with a comment or better yet a picture of your spiritual play house...
It was all coming together and I had God to thank for it... then it didn't come together at all.
That about sums up our last Bible Experience. I had networked, organized, planned, and promoted a play date where we would put into action 1 Peter 4:8, "Love covers a multitude of sins." With the help of a knitting group who meets at a local church, our children were going to learn how to hand knit scarves. We planned to take these handmade creations with the scripture attached to a local recovery center and give them out as gifts of encouragement.
ONLY, the knitting group met much later than I had realized, like encroaching on bedtime. So, out of the 60+ moms I invited with their kids, my daughter and I were the only ones to show. Turned out to be a good thing, cause it also turned out that hand knitting is for kids older than seven. So, none of our kids when have been able to do it anyway.
My great idea turned out to be a great bust.
There would have been a time when I would have been devastated over this. I would have asked myself, "Did I not pray enough?" "Was this not's God's will?" Is God disappointed in me?"
But not this time for one very good reason. I will not work for my salvation.
Ephesians 2: 8-9 says, "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God- not by works, so that no one can boast."
A Bible Experience fell flat. I didn't fall flat and God didn't fall flat. I'm still standing straight on my feet before God and he is staring straight back at me. It's Christ's gift to me. Scarf-less and alone, my head is lifted high by grace.
Have you recently tried something, failed and now feel ashamed or broken? If so, let me know in the comments. Let's bring the darkness into the light with prayer and grab hold of our salvation.
It's no secret that Christian moms throughout the world share a common concern and struggle - Raising their children to know and love Jesus in a way that is meaningful, relevant and lasting.
For the past several years, I have partnered with other moms, religious and secular, on a playful adventure of hands-on faith, holistic discipleship, and community transformation. This journey, which took the form of the Bible Experience, has led many of us and our children to experience God on Earth the way it is in Heaven.
If you are interested in making this a reality for you, your children and friends, then I offer to you a narrative of how to do this. I'm not a professional writer and this has never crossed the desk of an editor, but I am putting my faith where my mouth is and humbling sharing the first chapter of my book in progress.
Once you've read this, I would love to hear from you, dialog with you, and share an adventure of faith!
One of the biggest challenges with the Bible Experience is staying true to the simple motto, "Pick a Bible verse and do it."
The idea is simple. Coming up with a verse and a way to "do it" isn't always so simple. I personally find it challenging due to my Christian upbringing.
Side note - I'll spare you my opinions of what's wrong with the church or why I for a time left it, as many are quick to share. (I have contributed to that type of discussion on more than one occasion, yet have grown quite bored of such talk.)
I'm simply saying that most of the emphasis during my entire Christian upbringing and adulthood has focused on learning ABOUT God, or ABOUT my relationship to him, and specifically ABOUT the Bible. So, my natural inclination when it comes to scripture is to study, reflect, and talk about what it says. Not that I haven't had a heart to follow God and his Word, but choosing to follow Him at the exact moment the scripture is read with others has not been part of my experience.
So, I'm always testing the waters when an idea (mine or someone else's) is shared for a Bible Experience. The litmus test is always the same question, "Are we doing what scripture says or learning about it?"
This Thursday, we're having a play date at the local Family Shelter. The guiding verse for this BE is
"Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good. His love endures forever." - Psalm 136:1
Another mom coordinated for us to visit the shelter with our children where they will make place mats and play alongside the children residing there. We did this last year and I can only recommend for you to try this for a play date, with your family, or faith community if you have not already.
Of course this BE fulfills scripture on many levels, but the question I asked myself is, "Does it fulfill Psalm 136:1? Are we giving thanks when we make these place mats or are we just doing a craft activity about giving thanks?
(My husband tells me I think too much and I have a feeling if you are still reading, you might be thinking the same thing.)
Then it hit me! The number one reason that I am participating in this Bible Experience is because of how thankful I am to God for consistently providing for me and my family's needs. It is Christ's faithfulness in my life that inspires me to share God's loving kindness and generosity with others.
In the end, this is what I concluded: In order for selfless giving to take place, thankfulness must proceed it. How that looks and is expressed wildly varies from person to person, context to context, situation to situation, and place mat to place mat.
What are thankful for and how has it inspired you to give? Please share...
A few months ago I came up with a working title for a book I'm writing that will equip others to start and lead Bible Experiences in their own neighborhoods. I wanted to catch people's attention and also catch really what goes on during Bible Experiences.
"Jesus Crashed My Play Date!" did both.
During our play dates, we don't just connect the Word to our daily lives by living it out, we also connect with Jesus. Or should I say, Jesus connects with us in unexpected ways. So unexpected that it kind of feels like he's crashing the party.
Our last Bible Experience reminded me once again of Jesus' unpredictable "intrusions" on our play dates. For this BE, we met at a park to act out Proverbs 17:6,
"Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall;
I had planned some games for the kids to play that would get them tired and weary, make them soar like eagles, and renew their strength. Following these games, we would compare what we had done with the verse.
Things didn't quite go as planned. I couldn't find the ball for one of the games, my daughter had a major meltdown, I at one point gave up and handed everything to a friend and told her we were leaving, my daughter calmed down and we stayed, and the discussion never occurred.
Instead, Jesus crashed our play date.
Since we met at a community park, their were other families from the neighborhood there. I walked up to one mom who I thought might be there for the BE (some moms I didn't know had RSVP'd for this event) and asked her if she was here for the Bible Experience.
"No" she said, "but that sounds great!" All four of her children joined in the fun and contributed wings for the "flying like eagles" race.
"I home school my children" she explained, "so finding fun things to do like this with others is important to me." Before the BE ended, I gave her my contact information and anticipate us getting to know each and Jesus better together at upcoming play dates.
Connecting with a mom who was looking to expand her social and faith circle wasn't the only unexpected outcome. I also came to realization.
A couple of my friends who consistently participate don't hold the same faith beliefs as I do. We've discussed this and is nothing new to me. What surprised me was the revelation that that does not keep us from connecting in the Spirit. We help one another parent, encourage each other as women, come up with creative ideas, and support what's important to one another. God's grace flows freely and all are welcome recipients.
Both of these experiences with old and new friends were gifts that could only have been given by Jesus. Which makes me think, maybe I should rename my book,
"Jesus Crashed My Play Date and Brought Gifts!"
Any suggestions for a subtitle??
"It's only a season," I have told myself more times than I care to remember since having my daughter.
Every new phase in my child's life, walking, using the potty, going to preschool, and now starting kindergarten has brought us both immense amounts of joy and new challenges to work through and overcome together.
Something tells me that this in never gonna end, no matter how old either one of us gets!
Ecclesiastes 3:1 says, "For everything there is a season." As usual, God's Word rings true and personal.
That being the case, I thought it would be fun to do a Bible Experience inspired by this verse, seeing that it is after all, the first day of a new season.
What a great time for preparing & equipping our children for dealing with the many seasons of their lives!
Only one problem: I'm stumped for ideas, Please share your suggestions for a "Changing of the Seasons" Bible Experience.
This just might be your season to have your ideas put into action by moms and children all over...
While our children were picking strawberries and raspberries for shortcake we would deliver later that day to a local Women's and family shelter, I asked the kids a simple question, "What does God taste like?"
What prompted me to ask that question was the Bible verse that inspired this particular BE, "Taste and See that the Lord is Good" (Psalm 34:8.) We had done a BE similar to this one the year prior, but since we chose a different verse, it ended up changing how we would experience God.
The children all agreed that God tasted more like raspberries than strawberries because the raspberries tasted better. So then I asked, who made these raspberries?
"God made the raspberries," the children exclaimed.
"Well, if God made the raspberries," I said, "it would make sense that we could taste God through them."
I watched each child's eyes light up as one by one they made that theological connection. One 5 year old little girl put is best when she shouted, "Praise God!"
So, that got me thinking...
If you were to taste God, what do YOU think he would taste like? Please share...
"You can have it here," my friend Angie has said to me numerous times. Whenever we need a place to host a BE, Angie is always the first to offer. Her openness with her home is a reflection of her open heart towards others.
"Judy, I was thinking about this upcoming Bible Experience," Courtney has said to me on more than one occassion. Following this opening statement, Courtney has usually talked about wanting to contribute something extra to the activity so that it can be more meaningful for the participants or because she sees help is needed and offers. When most of us are just running around trying to get things done, Courtney is paying close attention to those around her and offering to help from what she's seen from her heart.
"I woke my son up from a nap so he could come to this Bible Experience. That's how important this is to me," Sarah shared. Sarah decided that whatever bad mood repercussions she might experience from disturbing her toddler's sleep, they would be worth it. Sarah's decision revealed what she treasures most in her heart - raising her son to know and love Jesus.
Bible Experiences don't just reveal the love God has for us, but also reveal the love we have for God and one another. Realizing this is refreshing water to my soul.