Sunday, January 24, 2010

The Hide and Seek Champion

Really Read It: Psalm 139: 1-24
A Quick Look: Psalm 139: 23-24
Memorize: Psalm 139:17 How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered!

If you were THE best hide and seek super-star in the world, where could you hide in your house? Could you fit in the chimney? Did you know there is a skinny space inside the wall? What about lying down flat on top of the roof? Or could you cut a hole in the basement floor and dig down into the dirt that is under your house and hide there? I think that any of those places would win. You would be the hide and seek champion of the world, but someone could find you. Maybe a person could find you if they looked long enough, but God could find you in no time at all. You know that, but do you really know it? You cannot hide from God and you cannot hide anything from God.
A lot of kids think that is sort of bad. It is nice that parents and teachers don’t know everything. If you can’t hide anything from God, then He knows all the bad things about you. But it is really very good that God knows all of the bad things about you. You don’t need to pretend you don’t have bad stuff inside of you. You don’t have to work to hide that bad thing from God. God already knows it. God sees all of you.
God even knows you better than you know you. That’s a hard one for my brain. I know everything I do and everything I think. I know all the things that happen on my outside and on my inside. God knows all of that too. And God knows all of the whys of me better than I do. God knows you that well too. God can show you stuff about you that you didn’t know. It seems like if it is about you, you would know it. Who would be the best person to answer the question, “What is your favorite food?” It seems like you could answer that about yourself better than anybody else. But God knows that answer better than you do, and He can tell you what your real favorite is. God will tell you stuff about you that is way more important than food, if you ask Him.
I hope that you are in a family where you are well known. It is safe and peaceful to be in a place where you don’t have to explain yourself. A family should know you, get you, be used to you. And it feels so good to be known like that. With God, it is like the perfect family but 321 times better. You are fully known by God and that should give you so much peace and joy and hope. God knows all of you and He wants you to come close to Him. You can be the worst you with God and He will still want you. You can be the best you with God too. He knows, He really knows, He already knows.

I read Psalm 139 and shortened it some. The whole Psalm is still in your Bible. I just put a shorter one right here for you to read. This way you can read all of my favorite verses from Psalm 139 in a row.

O LORD, you know everything about me. You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my thoughts even when I’m far away. You see me when I travel and when I rest at home. You know everything I do. You know what I am going to say even before I say it, LORD. You go before me and follow me. I can never escape from your Spirit! I can never get away from your presence! If I go up to heaven, you are there; if I go down to the grave, you are there. You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered! I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand! Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.

Take a look at a church where the knowing God comes close to His people: World Revival Church

Find more of Nathan’s writing on Amazon and Helium.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

How Much Did You Get?

Read the Real Story: Luke 12:47 – 48, Matthew 25: 14 – 30

Mr. Leaf did not send home a supply list to his new class. He told all the parents that the kids didn’t need to bring anything to school, because he wanted to give them all the school supplies the students needed. The first day of school for Mr. Leaf’s new class felt a little bit like Christmas. They knew they were going to get a bunch of stuff when they walked into that classroom.
On the first day of school, the children had to stand in the hall until the bell rang. Then Mr. Leaf started bringing them into his classroom one at a time.
Marcus went in first and he was thrilled at what he found in his desk. Never had he owned such great school supplies: 108 crayon colors, 72 paint colors, 3 scissors sizes, 14 notebooks, electric hole punch, mechanical pencils, colored pens, 5 kinds of glue sticks, 7 kinds of glue bottles, dictionary, science books, history books, math books, a laptop computer, construction paper, drawing paper, notebook paper… He was still finding new things when Mr. Leaf brought Logan in.
Logan didn’t need much time at all to sort all of his school supplies. In Logan’s desk he found two old pencils and a small stack of notebook paper. That’s all. Logan was so hurt, so sad, so disappointed. When he saw Marcus with all of his stuff, he felt even worse.
Which kid would you rather be? The one with much or the one with little?
Mr. Leaf kept bringing kids in one at a time. A few others had a ton of stuff like Marcus and a few others had almost nothing like Logan. But most of their gifts were somewhere in the middle.
When the whole class was in the room, Mr. Leaf started to speak. “Welcome to real life school. I don’t need to tell you that you don’t all have the same things in your desks. I should tell you now that you cannot give any of your gifts away. And don’t try to loose them or throw them away either. They are yours for life.”
Twelve kids muttered, “No fair.”
So Mr. Leaf continued with, “Of course it’s not fair. This can never be fair.
“Next I am going to pass out your assignment list for the day. And before you see the list I should tell you, this is not fair. I will give you a list like this every day of the school year. You must finish each assignment or you will be…”
Marcus stopped listening when Mr. Leaf put a paper on his desk. His joy flew away as he read his list. Twelve assignments. And each one of them would take him at least an hour. If he worked like crazy, he would still have five hours of homework.
When Logan read his list he started to feel better. He could finish his five assignments by lunch time if he worked hard. Take it easy and some would be left for the afternoon.
Which kid would you rather be? The one with much or the one with little?
Mr. Leaf is not like any teacher I know. Teachers seem focused on keeping things fair. Everyone has to have the same things and do the same things. Most of them talk the same way as the puppets on TV. “You are ALL special and you ALL have special gifts. Marcus might be really good at math, but you have your own special gift too.”
But really some kids are better at everything. You might know a kid like Marcus. He’s the best in his class in math, reading, and spelling. He’s the second fastest runner in the class, but he is still the best at basketball. And don’t try to beat him in art because even if you have a more creative idea, his neatness and detail will still impress the teacher more.
You might know a kid like Logan. He’s not the worst at math every day, because sometimes Liz and Rex don’t bring their homework. But there are plenty of days when Logan doesn’t have his homework, so that puts him back down at the bottom again. Math just isn’t Logan’s thing, but reading and spelling are not his thing either. He’s pretty bad at those too. At recess he would be the worst at basketball except that he doesn’t play that very often. And art is one of his favorites but his pictures never look much like the teacher’s example.
It’s not fair.
It’s not fair in my story, but it is not fair in real life either. God chose not to be fair. He gave some people a lot and some people a little. “When someone has been given much, much will be required in return; and when someone has been entrusted with much, even more will be required.” (Luke 12:48b)
Jesus told a story to explain this. In His story, a big boss guy was about to go on a long trip, so he gave money to three of his servants. He did not give the same amount of money to each one. When the boss came back, he rewarded the servants who used the money to get more money and he punished the one who did nothing with the money.
In Jesus’ story it was all about money. And that is real life. Some people have a lot of money and some people don’t have much. But God wants all of them to use their money the right way.
There are other ways that God gives gifts to people that are not money. God gives some people a lot of knowledge about Him and some not much at all. Some kids already know so much about the Bible and the Kingdom of God. Some kids have only heard the Christmas story one time. It is not fair. God expects the kid who knows a lot about God to do a lot more than the kid who knows little.
The other way you could have a lot or a little is in the things you can do. God makes some people good at a lot of stuff and some not so good at anything. God expects the one who is good at a lot to do a lot for God.
If you know a lot about God and you are really good at a lot of things, you have a super long list of assignments from God. You have a lot to do. Use all that you have. Have a great time and get busy.
If you are just beginning to learn about God and you are not very good at anything, you have a list of assignments from God too. God might have given you just one gift, but He still expects you to use that one gift for Him. But the amazing thing is, if you use the small ability for God, He will make it bigger. And then you can use your bigger gifts for God and He will make them bigger again. And again and again.
Stop trying to make it fair. Some people have a lot and some have a little. But God knows exactly what he gave you. And God is watching carefully to see how you will use it. If you do well with your gifts, you will get more. And when you get more, more is expected.


You can see a church where some people have a lot and some have little. But they are all pushing hard to use their gifts to make God’s Kingdom bigger.

Find more of Nathan’s writing at Amazon and Helium.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Before He Killed the Giant

A Quick Look: I Samuel 16: 13 & 18
Really Read It: I Samuel 16

Little David lived an easy, lazy life. All day every day, he sat in the soft, green, grass and watched his Dad’s sheep. He was just a boy, so if something went wrong he went to get his dad or one of his big brothers. One day this boy David had a little bit harder job. His dad gave him a bunch of food and told him to take it to his big brothers. But his big brothers were in the army. When David got to the army camp, a huge giant named Goliath was yelling out for someone to fight him. Even though David had never done anything he decided to fight the giant and he won.


David was not a do-nothing, lazy shepherd before he fought Goliath. I found at least five huge things that David did before his meeting with the nine-foot pagan. Not just five things like he washed the dishes, mowed the grass, went to church, passed a spelling test, and played soccer. The five things I found on David’s list were all big deals. If you did any one of these things, you would be known for it for all of your life. And David did all of these hard things before he ever heard Goliath yell out, “Am I a dog that you come at me with a stick? Come over here and I’ll give your flesh to the birds and wild animals.”

1. David was a shepherd. But as a shepherd, he did not rely on his dad if it got hard. His dad was an old man. David made sure that the sheep and goats were safe. If a bear or a lion came to get a sheep while the animals were in David’s care, he chased it down and took his sheep from the killer’s mouth. If the bear or lion turned on him, then he killed it with a club. A normal guy watching the sheep would not chase a lion. If a lion came and took a sheep, he would be glad that the lion didn’t eat him and run home to tell his mommy.
2. David was a harp player. Some would put this on the lazy shepherd list, but I think David worked hard at it and practiced like some of the world’s best players we have today. The reason I think that David worked so hard at the harp is that he was good. He was really good. When the king wanted a harp player, the king’s servants found David. The king could have hired anyone in the country, and he picked David. To me, that says that David was the best harp player in the country, and that would only come with a lot of hard work.
3. David was a song writer and a worshipper. David wrote most of the psalms that we read in the Bible. We don’t know when they were written. Most likely they were written after Goliath. But David must have been writing songs and worshipping God as a boy and a young man. His very first song did not become the number one worship tune in the whole country. But he started young. He worked hard. He kept writing songs. He kept singing. And his worship words lasted for 3,000 years.
4. David was a brave warrior, a man of war, and a man of good judgment. We have to guess about this one a little. If might be that Goliath was the first man David ever fought in real battle, but maybe David fought before that. When the servants of King Saul told him about David (before Goliath) they said that David was a great harp player, a brave warrior, a man of war, and a man of good judgment. The Bible does not say what made these men believed David was a man of war. They were right. The Bible has a ton of war stories about David after Goliath. But before David took the giant-killing stones from the stream, he was called a brave warrior and a man of war.
5. David was King Saul’s armor bearer. King Saul first hired David as his harp player. But Saul liked David so much that he gave him the job of armor bearer too. David was the man who carried Saul’s fighting tools. He was close to the king in battle. The king trusted him.

Those are the five. Each one could be a big life success, but David did so much that these five are easy to forget. Before David cut off Goliath’s head, he was also anointed as king, known as a fine-looking young man, and the Lord is with him. But those are things that happened to David. My list is just stuff that David did. And it is a big deal if you ever want to do a big thing for God. Killing Goliath was a big thing for God. God did it through David. But when God picked David, he picked a guy who was already doing a lot for God. Eight-year-old David didn’t think that harp practice would change the world for God. Ten-year-old David didn’t think that sling, club, sword practice would glorify God. David practiced the harp and he practiced war, and God used those skills in great, amazing, awesome, miracle ways. But David practice some bigger stuff too. He practiced worshipping God. He practiced loving and trusting God. And God looked down at David and picked him to change the world forever.
What does God see when He looks down at you? Does he see a doer or a waiter?

Here is a church where people find the presence or God and lives are changed: World Revival Church

Find more of Nathan’s writing on Amazon and Helium.

Monday, January 4, 2010

A Little More from Jonathan Edwards

Roller coaster.
Go Carts.
Sky diving.
There’s a thrill. There’s a rush. Kids try or want to try those things because of the thrill, the rush, the feelings of danger and intense excitement. But when it’s over, it’s just over. That thrill does nothing to help you in your life. It is just a thrill.
God does that too. There is a thrill, a rush in the presence of God. Very few people in very few churches have seen anything close to what I am talking about so you think I am just saying God is like skiing because they are both good and they are both fun. That is not it at all. I am really talking about a thrill in church. Most honest kids would say that God is really one of the most boring things in their lives. Sadly those kids want God, but they have never felt anything from God. Never any excitement, never any joy, passion, rush, thrill.
You can have that from God. You can have the presence of God that you can feel like a rush of excitement. But when it’s over, it’s not done. When you find God’s presence, you want it more and you love God more. But God’s presence also makes it easy to change your dirty life.
New Year’s is change time. Last week this page was about resolutions. Change for the better is a great idea but almost no one does it alone. If you get the presence of God, you could really make the change you want to make.
So as 2010 begins, a resolution is a great idea. If you want it to work, pray for the presence of God to hit you and pray for God to help you change. Last week I listed twelve resolutions from a dead guy named Jonathan Edwards. I am going to list a dozen more. But first here are a few facts about a great guy to copy.
· Jonathan Edwards was born on October 5, 1703. His birthday cake would have to have 306 candles. But to get more exact, he was born 111,856 days ago. He’s been dead for 91,944 of those days.
· Jonathan Edwards had four older sisters and six younger sisters. He had no brothers.
· Jonathan Edwards was super smart. I am almost sure he was smarter than the smartest kid in your class. At age 10 he wrote a paper about the human soul. At age 11 he wrote a paper about flying spiders.
· Jonathan Edwards started college when he was 12. When he finished college, he had the best grades in his whole class.
· Jonathan Edwards first worked as the pastor of a church when he was 19.
· Jonathan Edwards was a great pastor, preacher, and writer. In 1734 he wrote about the great revival in his church when almost 300 new people came to God.
· Jonathan Edwards most famous sermon is called, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.” This sermon and others like it helped a huge revival in the 1740’s.

Through all of his years as a pastor, a writer, a dad, a teacher, Jonathan Edwards practiced living for God all of the time. His 70 resolutions helped him. Here are some of my favorites written in my words.
1. Make everything I say, have some kindness in it.
2. Tell God the truth about me. Tell Him my sins, what’s hard, my fears, my hopes, my dreams.
3. Any time I hear something good about a person, try to copy it.
4. My personality, my mood will always be good, sweet, quiet, peaceable, giving, humble, forgiving, and honest.
5. No other way but God’s way will ever rule what I do.
6. Never from today until I die act like my life is my own. It is God’s.
7. Over and over again renew my love for God and my plan to serve God all the days of my life.
8. Ask myself at the end of every day, week, month and year how I could have done better.
9. Never think any little bad thought about my mom or dad. Never show a bad thought with my words, my body, or my eyes.
10. Check my soul to see if I care about Jesus Christ or not.
11. Always care about Jesus Christ.
12. Never stop or let up even a little bit in my fight against rottenness, sin, evil, selfishness.

Jonathan Edwards read his 70 resolutions every week and he prayed for God to help him keep them. You should copy a little of that. Pick at least one thing to change about you. Write it down. Read it every week. Pray for God to help you do it. But also pray and pray and pray that you could know the presence of God, because that is how lives are really changed.

Here is a church where people find the presence or God and lives are changed: World Revival Church

Find more of Nathan’s writing on Amazon and Helium.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

New Year's Day 2010

New Year’s Day 2010

New Year’s Day is the biggest day of the year for people to choose to change. Most of them don’t change at all. Ever. But they decide to change every year on New Year’s Day. New Year’s Day could be a party for you or just a night to stay up really late, but it is really not much different than all of the other days of your long life. You just have to start writing a different year, and you have to decide if you are going to call it two thousand ten or twenty ten. It is just a day, but writing a new year, starting a new year, the first day of a new decade is a good time to think about who you are, how you act and what you want to change.
A change on New Year’s Day is called a New Year’s Resolution. A resolution is a sure choice, something that you won’t change your mind about. I think a New Year’s Resolution is a good idea. You might even make a list of two or three or four things that you are for sure going to do this year that will make you better than you were last year.
Jonathan Edwards is a famous revival preacher who was born more than 300 years ago. It’s hard to believe that people way back then knew anything, but they did. Jonathan Edwards is a great man to study and you can start right here on this page. When Jonathan was 19 and 20 years old he made a list of resolutions. His list had 70 things on it. For normal people, that is too many. Also, he didn’t make his list just at New Year’s. He worked on it for a couple of years. But he had a lot of great ones and he had some great ideas about how to make them work. First he read his list every week. That helped him to remember what the list said and remember to do the stuff on the list. Also Jonathan Edwards knew that he could not follow the list all by himself, so he prayed for God’s help and God’s power to help him do the good things that he put on his list.
It would be great for you to do some of the same things that Jonathan Edwards did, but his list is sort of hard to read. I read his list and put some of my favorites into easier words for you to read. Read Jonathan’s list and pick a few for you to do.
1. Never lose time. Never waste time. Use every minute in the best way I can.
2. Live my life with all my strength, while I live.
3. Never do anything that I would be afraid to do if I knew I would die in one hour.
4. Any time I feel pain, think about two huge pains: first people who die for God and second hell.
5. Any time I think of a question about science or math or God, I need to find the answer.
6. If anything makes my pride bigger, makes me think that I am great, throw that thing away.
7. Never do anything for revenge. Never try to get back at someone.
8. Never be angry at something that can’t think like a dog or a toy or a baby or a snowflake.
9. Never say bad words about another person.
10. Be careful to eat right.
11. Find anything in me that doubts the love of God and fight against that doubt.
12. Read and study the Bible more and more so that every day of my life I know more of the Bible than I did the day before.

Just 12 of the 70 great resolutions of Jonathan Edwards. Pick something from this list or pick
something else, but remember to write it down and read it every week. And pray for God to help you do it.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Alien Invasion

A Quick Look: I Peter 2:9-12
Really Read It: I Peter 2
Memorize: I Peter 2:9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.

That little alien had a flawless plan. His one man ship was small enough to slip past the airplanes and the star watchers. He landed at night outside of town where no one would see. It all worked perfectly. He got to earth secretly. The next morning he went to school. That is when his plan failed. He could do nothing secretly. He didn't look normal in math class because he was the only one with green skin. He couldn't blend in during reading because he said, "veem, veer, veez," instead of "A, B, C." P.E. class went wrong when he jumped into the basketball hoop instead of throwing the ball in. After all that lunch was the worst part of his day. He ate the trash can instead of his food. He didn't look the same, he didn't act the same, and he didn't think the same as anyone else at school. He could not fit in. He could not blend in.

Peter told the Jesus followers to be aliens. Peter is famous for being one of the top guys with Jesus. He is known for some of the biggest mess-ups but also for some of the biggest hero moments of the Bible. After Jesus went up to heaven, Peter was the main leader of the church. One of the things he did to lead the church was to write down some important stuff. Some of Peter's words are in the Bible. In I Peter 2:11, Peter calls God's people aliens. I don't think that Peter had any ideas about little, green men from space. He used the word to mean a person from a different country. But the idea is the same. Peter was telling those people that they should be aliens. If you look at a regular person and then look at a God person, there should be big time differences that are easy to see. The way they act, the words they use, the way they think.

When Peter told those people 2,000 years ago to be aliens, it was really God telling them. And God has the same words for you today. If you are a child of God, then you should be an alien. It should be easy to tell that you are different from the normal kids of the world. If you want to learn how to be different, you can read the rest of I Peter 2 and the rest of 1 Peter really. Peter has a lot of ways for you to be an alien.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Ephraim's Tale

Read It in the Real Bible: Genesis 48:1-22

Grandpa Jacob was the grandpa that I hardly knew at all. He was my dad’s dad. My mom’s side grandpa I always saw a lot from when I was even a baby. Grandpa Jacob I only met when I was six and I only even saw him three times. But that last time I saw him was the best big-time day of my whole life and I know it’s gonna stay that even when I am grown up and then when I am old. That day will always matter more than all of my other days. I went to see him with my dad and my big brother. When Dad talked to us on the way he sounded sad, but also serious. I could tell he thought this was a big deal.
“Boys, I am taking you to see my dad, your grandfather, and… and I think he is dying.” Well that did not make me think it was a good day. I didn’t really want to watch a old guy die and like I said I didn’t really know him. But dad kept going and how he talked made me sort of scared but not only scared. “My dad is going to talk to you, and he is going to say important words. You see, God talks to my dad and God blesses my dad more than anybody else in the world. And God is going to tell him what to say about you. He is going to say God’s words to you.”
Wouldn’t that make you a little scared? Maybe you’re a wimp and it would make you a lot scared. You’d have to be a fool to not be at least a little scared by that. God is going to tell me all about my life. I’m just a kid. I’ve got a lot of life left. I hope.
When we got there Dad and Grandpa started talking to each other like we weren’t even in the room. And I started hoping they would forget about Grandpa telling me God’s words, but then I was scared they would forget about Grandpa telling me God’s words. I wanted him to but I didn’t. But I wanted it more than I didn’t.
And then Grandpa stopped right in the middle a story about when his wife died, looked right at us, and said, “Are these your sons?"
Dad said, "Yes."
"Bring them over here so I can bless them," Grandpa asked from his bed.
My whole body started tingling and I was more excited than ever and more scared than ever. My brain wanted to get God, but my brain was not my loudest talker. Inside of me there was something else that wanted what God was giving so bad.
Dad put me in front of him on one side and my big brother on the other. I found out that the side was a big deal. The little brother got a blessing from God, but the big brother got the best blessing. I had no idea when I stood there and Grandpa put his hands on us, but he blessed Dad first. Then Dad stopped him and said his hands were wrong. That was the whole thing about the oldest son gets the best blessing. And Dad was getting worked up about it.
"This one is the oldest. Put your right hand on him. Give him the best blessing."
Grandpa kept his hands crossed just like they were and spoke powerfully first to Dad and then to us. He talked about nations, and so many people that come from us, and big time money, and blessings. Most of the words made sense to my brain, but the greatest thing about those words was how they went deep down inside of me and I felt like my insides were alive for the first time ever. Sure I'd been breathing before. I did it since I was born. But when those words went inside of me, it felt like I was breathing better than I ever did before. It seemed like I could see better, colors were brighter, I could see more in things. More mattered. And was it because it of the words, or because it was Grandpa Jacob who said them, or was it because he crossed his arms and gave me the right hand, the better hand? I think all that stuff was good. But the real change was God. It wasn't really an old grandpa who crossed his arms. Really God crossed His arms and reached out to me with a better blessing than I was supposed to get. God gave me better than I ever should have had.
This is my guess about a great little story from the Bible. Grandpa is Jacob who tricked Esau, tricked his dad, and wrestled with God. Dad is Joseph who got a coat from his dad and was sold by his brothers. The kids are Manasseh, the oldest, and Ephraim, the youngest. But God and Jesus and you are in this story too. Over and over in the Bible, God put in stories to show what He is like and what he is going to do in Jesus. I think this is one of them. In this story God is like Jacob giving the blessing and speaking what will happen in your life. Jesus is the big brother. He is the first born of all the people ever made or ever born. And Jesus is the one who should get all of the greatest best stuff ever. You are the little brother, and you could maybe have the stuff that's left over after the big brother gets what he wants.
But God crossed His arms.
God reached out to you. God reaches out to you. And gives you the best blessing. He gives you the great things that only Jesus should really have. You get to have blessing, healing, power, wholeness, vision, peace, and fill-up-your-body life.