Posts tagged ‘Walking with God’

March 21, 2013

Easter Lessons for Big Kids

by Belinda Letchford

 

Photo credit to: Lamnee @ www.freedigitalphotos.net

Photo credit to: Lamnee @ http://www.freedigitalphotos.net

It is coming up to Easter and I’m starting to see lots of cute ideas for learning activities and lesson plans based to teach young kids about the death and resurrection of Jesus.  But what to do with older kids – they are a bit beyond making a tomb garden, they know about the wordless book, and they’ve made Easter/Resurrection Lapbooks .

The search starts with knowing what your purpose is.  When the kids were little I wanted to use this time in our calendar to focus on the truths that Jesus did indeed come to earth, was without sin, and he then died on the cross and rose from the dead in order to restore our ongoing relationship with God.  There are so many resources and ideas available to teach young kids these important truths.  And it works repeating it year after year, maybe with a slight twist or expansion because the kids are being grounded in Bible knowledge and understanding.

But what about when they get older?  I’m not saying my kids know it all, but when you’ve studied the same things for many many years, it is hard to stay focused and really ‘learn’ anything.  What is my purpose for doing “Easter” studies with my older kids?  Some years I’ve not been able to articulate a purpose and our studies have flundered.  This year I have a purpose – want to make the knowledge of the story – the history – personal, to make it about ‘me’ (for each of my children and for Peter and myself as well.)

Here are the resources that I’ve chosen to use this year:

15 chapters (one a day) as we look at the gift of the cross and all that Jesus did for us.  All because he loves us - and chose us.

15 chapters (one a day) as we look at the gift of the cross and all that Jesus did for us. All because he loves us – and chose us.

 

Based on knowledge of ancient Jewish holidays and customs, this DVD probes the true depth of the Easter story as it begins 2,000 years earlier with a simple promise between a man called Abraham and Almighty God. God’s keeping of that promise reveals a beautifully intricate masterpiece of love for human kind--love fully realized centuries later in Jesus’ resurrection and his gift of eternal life.

Based on knowledge of ancient Jewish holidays and customs, this DVD probes the true depth of the Easter story as it begins 2,000 years earlier with a simple promise between a man called Abraham and Almighty God. God’s keeping of that promise reveals a beautifully intricate masterpiece of love for human kind–love fully realized centuries later in Jesus’ resurrection and his gift of eternal life.

It's a story that's captivated the imagination of many generations. Mourning the death of Jesus, two first-century travellers were joined by a mysterious stranger. Over the next few hours, the stranger revealed many mysteries that lay hidden in the ancient Scriptures. Soon, the purpose of Jesus' life became clear...and the travellers' sadness turned to great joy.

It’s a story that’s captivated the imagination of many generations. Mourning the death of Jesus, two first-century travellers were joined by a mysterious stranger. Over the next few hours, the stranger revealed many mysteries that lay hidden in the ancient Scriptures. Soon, the purpose of Jesus’ life became clear…and the travellers’ sadness turned to great joy.

 

This is a contemporary worship music cd – we are familiar with some of the songs – we will have a few lessons where we take a song and read/study the words, and make sure we know what we are singing about.  Lessons aside it will be good to have the house full of music that makes us reflect on Jesus.

This is a contemporary worship music cd – we are familiar with some of the songs – we will have a few lessons where we take a song and read/study the words, and make sure we know what we are singing about. Lessons aside it will be good to have the house full of music that makes us reflect on Jesus.

 

We will read “He Chose You” after dinner most nights.  With the DVDs and CD we will watch/listen to a segment each of our study days and discuss what we learn and record it in someway – probably a notebook page or blog post.    We may well not get through all these resources before Resurrection Sunday– but that doesn’t matter – we are simply using the corporate celebration and time of worship as a reminder to focus on the foundations of our faith – we will continue with this study until we’re done.

Read about Activities we’ve done other years (big and little kids) on my website:  Lifestyle Homeschool – Easter / Resurrection Sunday

February 25, 2013

20 Things We’ve Learnt in 20 years

by Belinda Letchford
family 20 years

We celebrated 20 years with a family dinner on our veranda.

This year we celebrate being in our town for twenty years; it well and truly makes us locals!!   We have grown so much in those 20 years, as you do; our family has grown, our understanding of God’s purposes has grown, our passions and the opportunities that God has given us has grown.  So much has changed.  So I started to think – 20 things we’ve learnt in 20 years….

In 20 years:

  1. We’ve learnt to protect our marriage in the midst of a busy lifestyle – and a lifestyle that involves a lot of travel.   We’ve learnt the importance of being on the same page – of heading in the same direction – of trusting each other – of supporting and helping each other.
  2. We’ve learnt the importance of teaching the heart (the beliefs, passions, emotions, will) not the behaviour as we parent our four children.
  3. We’ve learnt who we want to be as individuals and as a family; our family vision is defined and yet always growing, giving us purpose in our days – that out of our personal relationship with Jesus and the consequent desire for godly character in all areas of our life, others will know God and His purpose.
  4. We’ve learnt to be resourceful with the things that we do have, instead of wishing for the things that a bigger town would give us.   Contentment comes from within, knowing your world is right with God, not from material wealth or success.
  5. We’ve learnt to build relationships and focus on the work of Christ rather than personal preferences for worship.
  6. We’ve learnt to trust God as our provision and God has provided at every turn.  When we first arrived we often prayed for rent/electricity money – and God provided.  God has opened doors for Peter to work off farm, and we have truly been blessed.
  7. We’ve learnt to set up home, either a caravan, a rental, or our own, so that it can be used to bless our family and others.
  8. We’ve learnt to say goodbye to friends and make new friends – we live in a transient town, people come and go – and yet we’ve stayed.  It is easy to block your heart from new friendships but when I look back on the friends that I’ve had and the impact they’ve had in my life, I would certainly be poorer, if I didn’t keep opening my heart and life  to new friends.
  9. We’ve learnt to step up into opportunities, and not to wait for others to do it – if God puts it in your hand, run with it.
  10. We’ve learnt to be responsible stewards of what we have.  The farm has seen many changes over the years – from intensive cattle grazing, to seed production, sugar cane and these days Sandalwood plantation.
  11. We’ve learnt to be hospitable whether our space is small or big.
  12. We’ve learnt to dig into God ourselves – to feed ourselves and to then encourage others.  The depth of my relationship with God is dependent on how much time I spend with him, personally.
  13. We’ve learnt to rely on God as we homeschooling – so many times I have had no idea where to turn to next.  And though it is easy to jump online and research I have found myself praying first.  The number of times an answer has turned up without my effort is amazing.
  14. We’ve learnt that we need others in our life.  One such situation where we depended on others to help us was when Naomi was sick.   Our friends helped us with looking after Josh and Jess – sometimes in the middle of the night, they brought meals and helped with housework, they were an extra pair of hands, they stood by us in prayer.
  15. We’ve learnt the importance of the local church rather than the denominational church –  from the moment we came to town we built relationships with people in different churches.  It has been a joy to see this develop across the town, so that now we can say there is a local church – Christians sharing life together (though we may all go to different churches on Sunday.)
  16. We’ve learnt to make our own fun: family nights, potlucks, camping, waterholes, video nights
  17. We’ve learnt to be a blessing to others as others have blessed us – The idea that often you can’t thank everyone who has contributed to your life enough but you can learn from the thoughtfulness and generosity shown to you and live that way yourself  as you interact with others.
  18. We’ve learnt to communicate the things on our heart as we talk to other parents and as I begin to write:  a blog, a website, a newsletter, a book.
  19. We’ve learnt to encourage others and to walk along side of them as we determine to walk in God’s ways in all of life together.
  20. We’ve learnt the importance of passing on family faith stories – we want our children to know that the God who has been faithful to us, is the God who does not change, and He will be faithful to them too.

 

We love living in the north of Australia, we love our town – it truly is home.  And we expect to continue to learn these things and many others in the years to come.

January 9, 2013

7 Keys for Discipleship Learning #6: Bible First

by Belinda Letchford

 

This post has been an extra day in coming as I pondered the next key.  Was it to teach Biblical worldview, was it to teach our kids to think – then it dawned on me – no, the most important thing in terms of structured lessons we can teach our kids is the Bible.  Bible first.

Bible first means two things

  1.  Our Bible lessons are the primary lesson for the day – regardless of what else happens
  2. As we teach other things we refer to, and depend on, what the Bible says

In our family we have specific timeslots where our relationship with Jesus and our learning from Bible is our main focus

  1. Our personal devotion times – a time where each individual connects with God on a daily basis – they may read the Bible, pray, memorise scripture, journal their thoughts, read a devotional or a book, listen to worship music, dig deep into a study.
  2. Family devotion times – this is where we come together as a family and learn together what God’s word says.  (On a personal note:  we are struggling to find reality in this aspect at the moment with changing family dynamics – but it is my heart)
  3. Bible study time – this is a part of our focus/school routine where we have studied the overview of the Bible as well as specific themes.  As our children have graduated from homeschool we encourage them to continue this discipline though it isn’t as consistent – just like in our life deep study isn’t always consistent
  4. Mid week Bible study – as our children have grown older they have joined our mid-week Bible study which is open to other people

We also have times in our family life where the Bible is referred to, not because we have planned a lesson, but because the word of God is our reference point in all things. For example:

  1. Family meal times as we discuss different issues and topics – what does God have to say?
  2. When we have attitudes or behavioural issues – what does God have to say, not in a sin/judgment way, but rather how does God tell a Christian to walk?
  3. As we watch movies and read books, we ask ourselves, what does God say about these things?  How should we react in these circumstances?
  4. When someone has a relational issue they are struggling with or a physical challenge – what does God say to you about this?
  5. When they have a choice to make, what does God say?

What we believe will always direct our actions.  If our children know and understand God’s word, if they believe it, it will direct their choices and actions.

I have hidden your word in my heart

that I might not sin against you.

Psalm 119:11

Though there are many resources out there to help us teach the Bible, the most powerful resource is your own heart for God and his word.  We need to be students of the Word ourselves, and then we can teach from our passion and desire to know God more.

 

January 7, 2013

7 Keys for Discipleship Learning #5: A relationship with Jesus

by Belinda Letchford

 

In amongst all the issues we think about when we take on homeschooling the bottom line is no different than any other Christian parent – our hearts desire to see our children walk with Jesus for themselves.

 

I have no greater joy than to hear

that my children are walking in the truth

3 John 1:4

We can plan lessons, teach to the heart, encourage character, draw from our lifestyle but it all avails to nothing if our children don’t have a personal relationship with Jesus because they themselves know that they are sinners and that he is the Saviour.

Parenting is the one role in life where we have no manual and we have no guarantee on the outcome.  I believe that it is important that we teach our children morals (to know what is right), and character (to have the fortitude to act according to what is right) but unless they have a hearts desire to live their life for Jesus they are just good people.

I want my children to love Jesus.  To walk with him daily.  That means I want them to understand who he is and what he has done for them.  I want them to know that he wants a relationship with them – that means that he wants to spend time with them, talking to them, listening to them, doing things together.  I want to know that is what my children want too.

This is really the beginning of any discipleship – that we are teaching our children to follow Jesus.

To love the Lord with all their heart, and to love others is the foremost scripture for me, in training my children.  This is the verse that gives me direction.  This verse sets the scene for everything else that we do.  Do my children love the Lord?  And out of that love, do they love other people?

My role as a parent is to:

  • Introduce my children to Jesus – to help them get to know Jesus, my Lord, my friend
  • Teach my children God’s Word
  • Live a life that brings glory to God – and involve my children in that so they begin to see first hand what a life with Jesus is all about
  • Help them see that they too need a saviour and that saviour is Jesus (that is, that they are sinners – regardless of how good they are at following the family rules)
  • Pray for them in their journey of faith
  • Help them to grow and mature in their faith

The question I have to ask myself is – does our homeschooling plans support or hinder these things happening?  Am I so busy ‘teaching’ that I no longer have time to sit at Jesus’ feet myself?  Am I so busy getting lessons ready that I forget how to respond with love, the love that Jesus would have me show?  Am I so busy educating my child that I run out of time to introduce them to my Lord?

January 4, 2013

Letting Jesus in on our New Years Resolutions

by Belinda Letchford
peter and belinda 2013

New Year photos:  Peter and Belinda

It is the new year and we are all looking at New Year’s resolutions, change, fresh starts.  What is this doing to our heart?

When our focus is so intent on change, on doing better, on being different we soon become discontent with our now.  Not everything can be new, not everything needs to be new and we need to find a level of contentment with where we are at.

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change

The courage to change the things I can

And the wisdom to know the difference.

(Reinhold Niebuhr)

At the same time there will be things that we know we should be doing better in.  The question is though are we going to change because the world tells us we should be skinnier, healthier or more orderly or because God puts something on our heart.  Then again, if God is whispering in our ear, we can either strive to make change happen in our own strength or we can walk in the spirit and allow the Holy Spirit to do a work in us.  This happens as we focus on Jesus, as we spend time getting to know him, as we allow him to fill our thinking moments.  As he fills our mind, our heart, our will, our convictions our actions will change too.

Let the one thing we change this year is listening to the call of Jesus:  I stand at your door and knock, if anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me. (Rev 3:20)

I’ve been thinking about this verse – when people come to dine with me, share a meal together, there is lots of talking and laughing going on.  We get to know each other a little bit more.  That’s what happens when we let Jesus in, spend time with him, get to know his heart.  Our lives are better for the interaction.  And yet, our dinner guests tend to leave at the end of the meal – Jesus wants to stay and have this type of fellowship day by day, moment by moment.

All for Jesus  By Asa Hull

All for Jesus, all for Jesus!

All my being’s ransomed powers:

All my thoughts and words and doings,

All my days and all my hours.

Let my hands perform his bidding,

Let my feet run in his ways;

Let my eyes see Jesus only,

Let my lips speak forth his praise.

Worldlings prize their gems of beauty,

Cling to gilded toys of dust,

Boast of wealth and fame and pleasure;

Only Jesus will I trust

Since my eyes were fixed on Jesus

I’ve lost sight of all beside;

So enchained my spirit’s vision,

Looking at the Crucified

Oh, what wonder! How amazing!

Jesus, glorious King of Kings,

Deigns to call me His beloved

Lets me rest beneath His wings.

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