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Deb’s Ministry Blog shares articles of interest to people in a small church, missions, or writing ministry. These are practical and encouraging articles that may be shared freely.

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Living as a Conservative Christian

I am a conservative Christian. You may think you know me, but you might be surprised.

Being a conservative Christian doesn’t make me think that I am better than you.

I’m not a Christian because I am so good. I’m a Christian because I know I can never meet God’s standard on my own. I think and feel and do wrong things. But God has granted me salvation on the basis of Jesus’ death on the cross. Jesus was completely holy and didn’t deserve to die, yet he took my punishment. I’m sinful and don’t deserve God’s mercy, yet I have believed in Jesus as my Savior, so he has given me his righteousness.

Beyond that, being a conservative Christian doesn’t make me better than a more liberal one.  You may be less conservative than me, and yet please God in areas in which I fall short. I may please God in areas you in which you struggle. I don’t look down on you because you are different, but I may disagree with you on some things. We each have to answer to God for what we do. I’m simply trying to do the right thing.

Being conservative doesn’t make me a legalist.

What is a legalist? Many people define a legalist as anyone who is more conservative than they are. At the same time, anyone who is less conservative than they are, is a liberal.

The book of Galatians talks about true legalists. A legalist tries to keep a list of rules in order to gain merit with God. Sometimes legalists try to earn or keep their salvation by keeping this list of rules. Other legalists obey rules to exalt themselves rather than glorify God. Their emphasis is on keeping a list of rules in their own strength, rather than living to please God by the strength of the Holy Spirit.

The late Dr. Myron Houghton said once said:
A distinction should be made between lists and legalism. It is certainly true that believers differ on their lists, and we must evaluate each item on a list in light of relevant Scriptural teaching. But disagreeing with fellow believers over whether or not Scripture supports their lists has nothing to do with legalism! Legalism is related to why one should obey a list rather than to the rightness or wrongness of the list. If people think they gain merit with God by keeping a list [any list!!], they are legalistic!

True freedom is living obediently to Scriptural guidelines in the knowledge that all of our sins have been forgiven because Jesus Christ died and now lives for us. (Romans 5:10) . . . And true liberty does not use itself as an excuse for sinful living (see Galatians 5:13), but rather, recognizes that the grace of God teaches us to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts and to live soberly, righteously and godly in this present world (Titus 2:11–15).

We need to be careful who we call “legalists.” Just because someone is more conservative than I am doesn’t make him a legalist. He may have good reasons for his standards. I have no right to call him a legalist just because his rules are stricter than I think they need to be. I can’t see his heart. I don’t know his motives, unless he reveals them to me.

Being conservative doesn’t mean I’m too stubborn to change.

I know Christians who have less strict standards than I have, and some who are more strict. If you are a Christian, I’m glad you are. I don’t hate you because you have come to different conclusions than I have. I may not be able to work with you in certain ways if we can’t agree on some issues that are important to me, but that doesn’t mean I don’t care about you.

The world changes quickly and so does the church. Sometimes I see people change in ways that I don’t feel would be right for me. I’m trying to please God and live the way he wants me to. You may see an issue as a matter of preference, where I may see it as a conviction. Thus you feel free to do something that I do not. That doesn’t make me mean. I’m simply trying to please the Lord in the best way I know how.

Remember, if I feel something is not pleasing to God, yet do it anyway, that is sin. (Romans 14:23) So please don’t push me to do something against my convictions. I’m not just trying to be stubborn.

 Being conservative doesn’t mean I’m a scrapper.

Yes, I know the world, and much of the church, is changing faster than I am. I expect to be different from the world. The Bible tells us to expect that. (1 John 2:15) But sometimes I even struggle to find a place in the church. Much of genuine Christianity would find me hopelessly conservative and I actually grow weary of wearing a legalist label simply because I’m trying to do the right thing. Very small differences sometimes divide the more conservative segment and I feel ostracized from Christians who I would like to consider as friends. Living today as a conservative Christian is not easy. Sometimes I struggle to know how God wants me to do certain things, but I am trying to figure out God’s pattern for me and then live that way.

So you may not agree with me. I may seem hopelessly conservative to you. But please don’t assume that I’m a fighting legalist who thinks I have all the answers, refuses to change, and wants to force you to be like me. I’m actually just an ordinary Christian who is trying to please God in a sinful world.

Free Christian ebooks! Great deal for Kobo readers!

My book, Broken Windows, is featured with ten other authors in this promo. This is known as a list builder because you sign up for an author’s newsletter in exchange for that author’s free book. My newsletter, Deb’s Book Blast, only comes out about four times a year. I give away a free book by another Christian author to someone on my list with every regular post. My subscribers already get any free books I’m promoting to new readers..

July 3-6 Kobo readers can get Edges of Truth: The Mary Weaver Story for 99 cents. God worked in amazing ways in this incredible true story.

Unprecedented Opportunities

“Unprecedented” was the foremost adjective for the first half of 2020. And we haven’t even started the second half.

The Covid-19 pandemic moved us to repeat, “I’ve never seen anything like this before” again and again. Around the world people have been locked in quarantine, and restricted in travel. We’ve been required to observe social distancing, record contact tracing, wear masks, and sanitize our hands wherever we went. That’s all new.

Just as some countries have made marked progress in their fight against the virus, George Floyd’s death ignited protests of many kinds along with widespread violence and vandalism. The videos of action related to this event are often tragic and alarming.

These events incite strong and polarizing opinions, cramp our style and frustrate our plans. Yet if all we see are the negatives, we miss a substantial element of God’s work in believers.

While experiences like these may rock our world, God has allowed them for his own purposes. He not only gives Christians the strength to get through these trying times. He gives more. If we will, we can use these events as unprecedented opportunities to shine our light in unusual ways.

How can I shine my light into the darkness? By modeling these qualities:

 Submission to authority.

As I read my Bible, I see God’s command to submit to authority, even when I don’t agree, as long as that authority isn’t asking me to violate God’s standard. (Romans 13:1-7, 1 Timothy 2:1-2, 1 Peter 2:17)

As a Christian leader, when I submit to the government in something that seems unreasonable or silly to me, I model a biblical principle. Every person on earth is under some kind of authority. Christian leaders are not a law unto themselves. If I pick and choose what rules I want to follow, I’ve missed the opportunity to model submission.  All Christians are under authority of some kind. Submission to any rightful authority over me is part of my submission to God.

Patience in dealing with annoying requirements.

Rules about social distancing, masks, hand sanitizers, and the like can be extremely frustrating. Even more so if I don’t believe they are necessary.  It’s easy to lash out at the worker in the store who is enforcing these rules, complain to my friends, or quietly disregard the rules. Week after week of compliance can sorely try my faith — which is precisely how it works for my good. Things that try my faith are a gift from God. These annoyances give me the building blocks to build patience into my life. (James 1:2) That silly, senseless rule that irritates me presents an opportunity to vent my frustration or build my patience. My choice determines if I become better or bitter.

Compassion for those in crisis.

While the pandemic and the protests cause me inconvenience, the same events cause true hardship and crisis in the lives of some people. If God gives the opportunity, I can show his love in a tangible and striking way. I have to look beyond myself to recognize these opportunities. My compassion can bring hope to others and have eternal consequences if I use the opportunities God puts in my path.

Dealing with debatable issues in a respectful way.

We live in the unprecedented age of social media when we can share our opinions with a few clicks of a mouse. Social media stirs our anger and gives us an outlet to vent with an efficiency we wouldn’t have dreamed of a few decades ago. Memes and videos are so tempting to share. They can be a good way to share my opinion about an important issue when I can back it up with the facts. But it’s also easy to share exaggerated and highly emotive posts just because they are funny and they allow me to vent. But consistently dealing with issues and people I disagree with in a respectful way shines a light of integrity into a world that greatly needs it.

Playing fair with the facts.

 Any political event can be shared by various reporters in a way that supports their agenda. Even truthful accounts of an event can be presented in a variety of ways that may make a political figure look brave or cowardly, smart or foolish, nice or mean-spirited. It’s easy to believe the best about the politicians you support and the worst about the ones you don’t. It takes little effort to share reports these days, but it takes real effort to check the facts. Many times it’s impossible to know for sure what the facts are. Posting claims that damage a person’s reputation when we can’t verify the facts is reckless, if not slander. (Proverbs 6:16, 19) We model integrity when we show respect, but also when we resist the temptation to share posts that don’t play fair with the facts.

Peace during uncertain and unprecedented times.

Recently I’ve been listening to the song “My Hope Is Jesus” by Ron Hamilton. The chorus goes like this:

My hope is Jesus – the anchor of my soul,

the ruler of the universe, the One Who’s in control.

He saved me, and He will keep me till the end.

The rock of my salvation – on Christ I will depend.

My hope is Jesus.

Our dark world is desperately in need of hope. Even our churches need Christians whose hope truly is Jesus. 2020 has become a disturbing year in many ways. I can let these troubling events steal my peace, but then I’ve lost the opportunity to model hope. I may not understand what’s going on in my world. I may not have the answers to the problems around me. But when I focus on Christ instead of the tidal waves of current events, I can model unshakable faith.

Submission, patience, compassion, respect, fairness, peace. Our world needs to see these Christian virtues more than ever before. The church needs to see living, breathing models of these virtues. We have opportunities to let our light shine in unprecedented ways. Today. Right where we are.

Let’s take advantage of these opportunities and let our light shine.

Listen to “My Hope is Jesus.” 

 

Download the sheet music to “My Hope is Jesus.”

 

 

Children’s Ministry Resources You May Not Have Heard Of

Recently I asked on my Facebook author page for favorite resources of Christian ministry teachers of children. I’m excited to share these great resources I found that I never knew about. Check these out to see if they might work in your ministry.

Devotional Books

Parents in our churches need help finding books that give them easy and meaningful devotions for their families. Since my children are grown, devotional books aren’t automatically on my radar. Here are three recommendations from my readers:

Shannyn Mitchell recommends Worshipful Families by Howard Bean.

Hannah King has been using Tales from Cherry Lane in her family devotions this year. Last year they used My Big Book of 5-Minute Devotionals. Her kids have enjoyed them. They are in Kindergarten and 2nd Grade.

Church Children’s Club Resources

This is what Rebekah Schrepfer uses for her kids’ club at Pioneer Peak Baptist Church in Palmer, Alaska.

Here’s an overview of the club that I have sent around as a Starter Kit. I still have no helpers and no budget.  In the overview I explain how I’ve put together our Wednesday Bible Club and I talk about the free resources that I’ve found.    I’ve used the free lessons from this website.  It is a good walk-through-the-Bible format, and it can be easily supplemented with visual aids and such.  I skip their suggested memory verse because the kids are already learning verses with their Summit Club Books.  And I don’t always use the crafts they suggest, but sometimes they’re nice to use.  I’ve also used this website and printed off their Bible Trading Cards.

Over the years, I’ve learned to use Photoshop and Microsoft Publisher, and I’ve learned how to use WordPress.  While these resources are not always free and can be a long road to travel, it has been a blessing to draw on these skills and apply them to a children’s ministry to make it look professional….when in reality, it’s just little ol’ me.

Original Bible stories and songs and a method for organization of materials

Marilyn Alexander has put all these materials on her website. They come from her long-term ministry at Calvary Baptist Church in Lamar, Colorado.

My friend, Marilyn Alexander has recently launched a website with teaching resources. She specializes in lessons for Bible stories that are used less often. She offers free, original songs about Bible characters. Many of these are about Bible characters that you never find songs about. She also explains a way to organize all your teaching materials in a way that helps you to find all the bits and pieces instantly. You can find all this on her website, Teaching the Bible to Kids.  

Junior Church material

Ruth Grosse recommends these after using them to teach junior church at First Baptist Church, Dillon, Montana. (The oldest Baptist church in Montana.)

AiG has these Sunday School materials. Ruth uses these to teach her Junior Church. She says, “I love Answers in Genesis for Junior Church!  I use the Pre-K – First material, though I have kids who are older – it still works great – and they learn lots of good Bible principles that give them a good foundation for life.  There is a wonderful flipchart and lots of illustrations during the lesson time that keep the kids’ attention, plus game ideas, songs, hands-on activity ideas, and a handwork sheet to take home.  There are 10 lessons per unit (you order a unit at a time), and I’m on the third one.  There is one memory passage per unit – and the kids learn that passage really well – because it is illustrated in the flip chart with words and pictures, plus we review it every Sunday during that unit.  They say it up front in church at the end of the unit, along with singing a song or two.  There are also 4 Bible Truth Questions for each unit that they learn the answers to – and that is fun for them because they all answer together in unison.”

Deb Brammer: Here are some fave resources that I’ve used teaching at Tay Street Baptist Church in Invercargill, New Zealand.

Free Bible Story Pictures

My favorite source for free pictures to use to teach Bible stories is Free Bible Images found here:  . I have printed these images on card and used them. Sometimes I get a Bible story in curriculum which just doesn’t have enough pictures of the story to suit me. I can print these out the day before I use them and not have to wait or pay postage. I’ve also used them for PowerPoint stories for our Discovery Club. Though they are free, if you’re using them a lot it’s nice to send in a contribution. These have really helped me because I like to make up my own Bible themes and use stories in different ways, but I always need Bible story pictures to show what I want to say.

Training for Puppet Ministry

My favorite DVD for training puppeteers is this one  from Creative Ministry Solutions.

My own free resources

If you haven’t checked out my website recently, you’ve missed some new resources I’ve added. Under “Church Programs” You not only find Christmas Programs and Mum-Daughter Nite themes. I’ve also added these original resources.

  • The Road Sign Song. Music and printable visuals for fun new kids’ song.
  • Old Testament Books Song. Used to memorize the Old Testament books. Printed music with demonstration video.
  • Old Testament timeline motions to help kids memorize an overview of the Old Testament.
  • 7-color Jesus poem and object lesson. Printable poem made to fit in a bag with jelly beans in each color. How to make an object lesson to go with it.

Puppet resources:

Under my Puppet Scripts and Tips you’ll find 20 original puppet scripts and 5 helpful articles about puppets.

 

Summit Bible Club Overview

A Ministry of Pioneer Peak Baptist Church

Dear Fellow-laborers in the Gospel,
I hope this overview of our Summit Bible Club ministry will be helpful for you as you work on your own Wednesday night program for children.

Summit Club was born out of pure necessity and a desire not to waste the precious time given to me on Wednesday nights at our church. There was a time when our church had no class, much less a program, for children or teens on Wednesday nights. My own four children would just come to the Adult Prayer Meeting and Bible Study with us, and any other children that might come were not regular attenders. I knew my children needed a time and some goals to work toward. I had fond memories of AWANA and other Bible Clubs, and really any verses I know by memory mainly come from those years of hiding God’s Word in my heart. So with the pastor’s blessing I began a simple class-time on Wednesday nights. I had no budget and no helpers. It was just me and what resources I could find for free. It grew into Summit Bible Club simply by adding a little here and a little there to help the kids be motivated and enjoy the class. Now I have up to 25 children each week, and I’ve long passed the point of needing a little extra help and budget.

But we continue forward and I believe it has been a good endeavor.
Here is what our typical Summit Bible Club evening looks like:

1. Opening Song Time (5-10 mins)
a. In the summer, while it’s still light outside and good weather, we sometimes begin with game time. In the winter when it’s too dark or cold, we just start with songs.
b. We sing at least 4 children’s songs. Most are simple songs that we all learned as children. There really was no other extended time of children’s music on Sundays, so this was our chance!
c. We also work on special music as a group. Call it Kids’ Choir if you like. But I strive to find a really nice song that works for a Sunday morning special or for the Christmas Program or Easter Program. This is a time when I have the most church kids there with me at one time, so I take advantage of it!

2. Prayer Time (5-10 mins)
a. A little ministry philosophy here: Pastor has taught that children are really church members in training. It is wrong to make a class completely different from what normal church life is. Then there’s nothing at all that resembles what church life is for the rest of their lives as adults. And a huge part of that is focused prayer time.
b. I ask for prayer requests and they must follow some simple rules:
i. It’s not story time, so requests need to be that. What can we ask God to help with?
ii. If someone already mentioned a prayer requests, we can’t repeat it. (This is just a time saver.)
iii. Praise God in our prayers, too! What are you thankful for? How has God answered our prayers from last week? What part about God do you remember and can praise Him for? (Sometimes our whole prayer time is just this, without any prayer requests.)
iv. Pay attention and remember the requests, because you might be asked to pray aloud.
c. Then I ask for 2 volunteers to pray aloud. I am the last one to pray.

3. Walk Through The Bible (10-15 mins)
a. It took us several weeks to learn the Books of the Bible Song (https://vimeo.com/149679206) sung to the tune of “Ten Little Indians”. We begin with that now, so the youngest kids can learn it.
b. I have taught them basic statements about how the Bible is put together. There are many ways to do this, so you’ll have to come up with what works best for you.
c. I have a list of facts and questions I use in a separate document, but mostly it is based on my own Bible Study over my lifetime. I just thought about all of the basics of what is in the Bible, the accounts, the major themes, etc. And I simplified it for children to remember.

4. Sword Drills (5 mins)
a. This fun game has been great to teach the kids how to look up verses in their own Bibles by themselves.
b. At first the kids were nervous and complained that they couldn’t do it. But after practice with some super easy references, they got better at it. They know that Psalms is the middle of the Bible and that the Old Testament is bigger than the New Testament, and those sign-posts help them find other references. At this elementary age, I stick with pretty easy verses and throw in a curve ball for the older kids for a challenge from time to time.
c. Encourage the kids to bring their own Bibles every week.

5. Summit Verses Time (10-15 mins)
a. Next we take time to recite and work on their Summit Club verses from their books. The books can be made with a comb binder, or they are thin enough to just staple the middles into a booklet.
b. I encourage the older kids to come prepared to say their verses without help from mom or dad since they can read and do it themselves. The younger kids can use help with the how-to’s of memorizing verses. Hopefully parents have worked with their kids and they are prepared.
c. (At our house, at about 4:30 on Wednesdays, I have the kids turn off the TV and tablets. I work with the younger kids to memorize their verses by rote while I’m making dinner. The older kids go to their rooms to learn their verses and then they come practice on me. By the time dinner is ready, they know their verses.)
d. This is the time when extra help is needed. If kids are ready with their verses, they line up in the hallway to say their verses to the Nursery Worker, who signs their books. Then they show me their book and I write it down in my Record Book. Several kids usually do not come prepared to say verses, and it would be great to have someone ready to help them just for those few minutes of class time. (But then again, they are learning really well to be prepared ahead of time.)
e. If they finish a “trail”, then their Hiker dude gets to move up the mountain. We all clap for each other as someone gets to move their guy up. As they finish books, they get bigger prizes.

6. Lesson Time (10 mins.)
a. With the class time getting short, the lesson time has been a good time, and yet it has not been the main thrust of Summit Club. Hence, only 10 minutes allotted. Remember, my main goal has been to give them the bones of Bible Knowledge.
b. I’ve used the free lessons from this website: http://freesundayschoolcurriculum.weebly.com/oldtestament- lessons.html It is a good walk-through-the-Bible format, and it can be easily supplemented with visual aids and such. I skip their suggested memory verse because the kids are already learning verses with their Summit Club Books. And I don’t always use the crafts they suggest, but sometimes they’re nice to use. I’ve also used this website: https://sundayschoolsources.com/ottoc.htm and printed off their Bible Trading cards.

7. Game / Craft Time (10 mins)
a. Sometimes we run out of time for this, but I try to include it. It’s also motivation for the kids to stay with my lead through the evening. “Let’s follow the teacher so we have time to do games later!”
b. We do crafts that pertain to the lesson during the winter months when we can’t go outside. c. This is another area where a helper would be great. Just to be able to hand off the kids to the games or crafts coordinator would be awesome for me.
d. If we all seem to be run down and tired, I’ll sometimes just send the kids outside with their snacks to the playground.

8. Snacks
a. The moms get together and coordinate sending snacks for the Summit Club kids. It’s not a big deal, but it helps me tremendously not to have to think about that.
b. Sometimes we do snacks at the same time as craft time, but mostly we just grab our snacks at the very end of class.
c. On Easter week, I will make Resurrection Rolls. And sometimes there are fun theme ideas that I incorporate into the snack time.

9. Special Dress-Up Nights
a. I added this to help encourage kids to attend and not miss out. It’s minimal preparation for me and parents, and it’s lots of fun for the kids.
b. Once a month we do a fun theme like Crazy Hair night, or Neon night, or Twin Day. I plan to use those themes in the lesson time. So Super Hero Night will be a lesson on how God is our Almighty and Amazing, Incredible God. Neon Night will be an emphasis on how we can be a shining light in a dark world. Twin Day can be about imitating Christ, etc.

10. Gospel Presentations
a. Because many of the kids are young, about half of them have never accepted Christ as their Savior. Especially the preschoolers and kindergartners are still putting the pieces of the puzzle together in their minds.
b. Because of that I share the plan of salvation OFTEN. Whenever it comes up, whether it’s the song time, the game time, the verses they memorize or the lesson time…I add the Gospel in there.
c. I’ve had good talks with parents over the last few years. They tell me what their kids know from Summit Club and often they tell their parents, not me, about their understanding of the gospel. Praise the Lord!

11. Awards Night
a. At the end of the school year, we have an Awards Night on a Sunday night. Kids who have finished their books get a medal that I make for them. All kids get a goodie bag.
b. I try to have the kids recite some of their verses that they learned, and maybe sing one of the new songs I’ve taught them, a slide show of some pictures I’ve taken along the way is fun too.
c. This is a great way to recognize their hard work, and it is a testimony to the church, a report on their ministry.
d. This is also a good “advertising time” to those who have not been to Summit Club, that they are missing out on something good.

12. Summit Club Fair
a. A new thing this year, since we are not doing VBS at this time, is to have a day of games and prizes for the kids.
b. We have it at the end of summer, just before Summit Club starts as a kick-off day.
c. It’s a big deal, and I usually need help. The games are very simple and each one needs an adult to run the game, so preparation and communication ahead of time is needed.

This Summit Club Program has been a blessing, I believe, from the Lord. He has given me a heart for it even though it is hard work and sometimes exhausting. But I love to see the kids learning and able to navigate their Bibles and remember His Words to them. We’ve seen little ones come to know the Lord as their Savior, and we’ve seen  friendships among them grow and visitors invited as well. Praise God!

I hope this overview helps you understand the other materials I’ve included in this Start-Up Packet. Please contact me if you have any questions or need more ideas.

Rebekah Schrepfer