Jesus is Crucified

Greeting Brothers and Sisters. Peace to you in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ!

What a sad title for this post. “Jesus is Crucified.” What a sad day.

The Crucifixion of Jesus can be a difficult subject to discuss with children, particularly in the age range of our class but it is time. Tomorrow we will discuss the Crucifixion. Over and over in my head I imagine their faces as we discuss the torment Jesus went through. Jesus, who was perfect, sinless, and The Son of God was beaten as a criminal. Even as an adult it is hard for me to imagine! What hatred against my Savior! I know that next week we will talk of the Resurrection and we will rejoice…but this week our hearts will be heavy with our story. It would be easy to gloss over but there is a reason His suffering is detailed in the Bible. It is an important part of the story and we must share it. Jesus SUFFERED for my sins and by His stripes I am healed. What a sad thought that my sins (and yours) pinned the perfect Son of God to the cross.

So we come to the question: How can we explain this to our children?

First, it is important to gauge where your child is developmentally. If we are explaining in a way children cannot understand we might as well not explain at all. That being said, your child can probably grasp deeper topics than you may think.

Second, know it is OK for your child to be sad. The Crucifixion is a devastating event. Let them be sad and talk about why the story made them sad. Emphasize that it makes you sad, too.

Third, explain why Jesus had to die. This is where the meaning lies. Jesus died because the punishment for sin is death. We have all sinned. If you feel your child will be able to think about a time when they have sinned (without being overwhelmed,) talk about that time. Was your child punished when they did something wrong? If so ask what your child would have thought if their brother or sister…or even YOU had taken their punishment instead. That is what Jesus did for us.

Finally, be ready with the story of the Resurrection. The Crucifixion, though sorrowful, has a joyous ending!

It may also be helpful to do a craft as you discuss the story. Try the ideas here

Your Brother and Sister in Christ,
Chris and Jessica

The Lord is My Helper

Peace to You in the name of our Lord, Jesus Christ!

It’s been a while since you heard from the Children’s Ministry and we would love if you could share some time for an update as we close out our current unit!
Our focus for this unit has been on why we worship God; of course, there are MANY reasons. We have been learning we worship God because He helps people. On our journey through Exodus we have learned about some very scary situations people were in. Each time God made a way for them to succeed.

We started back with baby Moses in his basket. God protected him but He also had a plan. God made Moses into a great leader. Now, Moses was not always confident he could do what God asked of him (if we were honest with ourselves that might sound like many of us, right?) but God never failed Moses. At the burning bush He gave Moses his charge and armed him with the tools he would need to succeed. Then God sent Moses on what may have seemed like an impossible task. Armed with a staff and supported by Aaron, Moses faced off against one of the most powerful leaders in the world: Pharaoh. God did not fail Moses. Challenge after challenge came and each time God used Moses to show His power and might. Finally, after the death of his son, Pharaoh released the Israelites.

Pharaoh’s surrender was short lived and as the Egyptian army pressed God’s people against the sea, they lamented their escape and their certain death. But God did not fail. A strong wind blew all night and as the sun rose Israel began to cross the sea. As the last person crossed they turned to see God defeat their enemy. Israel sang and danced in honor of God then they set out on their journey to the Promised Land.

The celebration of victory was not long lived. Israel became hungry and thirsty as they traveled. Again, they lamented their escape and doubted God but God did not fail. Manna fell from the sky, quail covered the camp, and water poured out of a rock to sustain God’s people. What did they have to fear? God was with them!

“The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.” Hebrews 13:6 NIV

-Your Brother and Sister in Christ, Chris and Jessica Cortez

God’s Top 10

Our last post recounted Moses journey from the burning bush back to Egypt and out again. This time with Israel in tow! We followed them across the sea where God rescued them and into the wilderness where God provided food and water for His people.

Finally, we come to “The Rules.” While Moses spoke with God on the mountain, Israel ran amok. They were certain they had been abandoned and they created an idol with the treasure God had provided them when they left Egypt. They proclaimed, “This is the god that brought us out of Egypt!” but saying it certainly doesn’t make it true. In a camp of misguided people who had rejected Him, God did not fail. He delivered to the people a set of rules (The 10 Commandments) to guide them. These rules helped the people know how to please God.

As it says later in Romans 7:7, how can we know what is sin unless the law tells us?

Thanks to God for giving us the law so we can know what sin is. By knowing our sin we can see our need for forgiveness and salvation through Jesus Christ.

-Your Brother and Sister in Christ, Chris and Jessica Cortez

So Exciting!

Peace to you Brothers and Sisters

We are so excited to have started a new curriculum in our Children’s Class and we would like to share a little bit about it. The book is from Standard Publishing and is titled, “Follow the Bible.” This will be a 50 week study that is designed to give children ages 6-8 a chronological overview of the Bible. It is centered around young readers and encourages skills that will help the children as they grow in their study capacity, such as finding specific scriptures, understanding the structure of the Bible, and building Bible-related vocabulary. This study is divided into 10, five week units that are centered around three ideas: Worship, Obey and Tell. In each unit we will discover a Bible based reason to do one of these three things and we will commit a related verse to Memory.

We also have a new resource for our Bible stories! Previously we have read our lessons straight from the New International Readers Version of the Bible but because each lesson in this curriculum may cover several chapters we have opted to use the Day by Day Kid’s Bible for class. Children are still taught and encouraged to find the scriptures our lesson is based on in their own Bibles so they can read at home with their parents.

As always there will be fun crafts and snacks but we are also adding journaling to our activities. After each lesson the children will receive their writing prompt and be given a few minutes to write their thoughts on the lesson or a topic related to the lesson. The prompts are individualized and based on each student’s needs and capabilities. It is our hope journaling will help the children think of the lesson in a current, personal, and concrete way. Parents are welcomed to view their child’s journal at any time; we would love for you to see what your child has been learning!

Please continue to pray for our class as we begin this new curriculum.

You can find links to our lesson book HERE and our Day by Day Bible HERE

Your Brother and Sister in Christ,
Chris and Jessica

The 12 Spies

Peace to you, Brothers and Sisters!

This week we are continuing our journey with Moses and the Israelites as they camp in the Desert of Paran, near Canaan.
Since we began our study with the 12 plagues we have seen God work miracles over and over in the lives of His people. He has rescued them from slavery and fed them with manna and quail. He has given them water from rocks and has purified water in streams that were unclean. He has given them protection and He has even dwelt among them.

In our story this week he declares they will have Canaan: the land of milk and honey! Moses follows God’s instructions to send men from each tribe to the land of Canaan. Twelve men journey into Canaan and spend 40 days exploring the land God will give them. Ten men saw the land as challenge after challenge. They saw tall walls and they saw tall men, all capable of defeating the soldiers of Israel; but, two men, Joshua and Caleb saw opportunity and promise. They viewed the land not as something they could attain but as something that had already been given to them through God’s promise.

It is true the Canaanites were capable of defeating Israel but they were NOT capable of defeating God. In Numbers 14:9 Joshua and Caleb warned the community not to disobey God and encouraged them by reminding them that the Lord was with them and there was nothing the Canaanites could do to stop God from delivering the land to the Israelites.

The Israelites stayed true to form. They believed only the bad reports from the 10 spies and cried out again, “You should have just left us in Egypt to die!” Over and over through their journey they have cried out in defeat…even in the face of God’s promise for victory.
In the end, the 10 spies who brought back a bad report died as a result of their sin against God and all of Israel was forced to wander. They would have another 40 years in the wilderness to practice trusting God and no one but Caleb and Joshua would be rewarded with arrival into the Promised Land…but they WOULD be rewarded. God stayed true to His promise and brought the people back.

In journey of the Israelites we see such a wonderful picture of God. He is a rescuer, provider, judge and jury. He rewards those who do not deserve reward and punishes those who have sinned. In the end, He always forgives those who cry out for mercy.
What can we learn from this story?

It is easy to look at the Israelites and say, “How could you doubt God after He has proven Himself to you over and over?! Look at the miracles! How can you not believe?!” The truth is we are all like the Israelites. Probably more often than we would like to admit.

God wakes us each morning and lays us safely to bed each night. He gives us each breath and the strength for each step. He provides our food. He provides water for our thirst and he has rescued us from the slavery of sin. He no longer dwells in a tabernacle, accessible only to a few, but asks to dwell in our hearts!
Still we doubt, sometimes in word and sometimes in action. Are you crying out in defeat, even in the face of God’s promise for victory? Do you have a “Canaanite-sized” situation you are facing? Take heart, friend. God is with you and His promises are true.

In closing, we would like to leave you with the following verse. Take it with you and find victory and peace in the name of our Almighty Lord and Savior.

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
Isaiah 41:10

Until next time, be strong and courageous in the Lord!
Your Brother and Sister in Christ, Chris and Jessica Cortez

What’s Going on Back There?

We are happy to share how we are keeping your children engaged during Sabbath School!

Class structure:

10:30-11:00 Sharing & Lesson Introduction
During this time the children are provided with an introduction to the day’s lesson. This is usually done with a coloring page as many of the children enjoy the opportunity to be creative. We also engage the children in conversation about their week and listen to any stories they may have to share. In doing this we believe we help the children to feel valued by being heard. It also opens opportunities to discuss Christian values and lessons that relate to each student’s current situation.

11:00-11:30 Story Time!
Story time is when the lesson for the day is presented (and when the children get cozy in beanbags and blankets.) We begin with a recap of last week’s lesson and the events that have lead us to where we are in the scriptures. The lesson (or story) is usually read directly from the scriptures (NIrV version). We talk about the meaning or lesson to be learned from the story and answer any of the children’s questions.

11:30-12:00 Snacks and Crafts
The last 30 minutes of our class provides a creative opportunity to reinforce the lesson in a memorable, hands-on way. During this time we make a lesson-themed craft or play a game related to the lesson. We also have a light snack to help the kid’s make it to lunch time! While this time may seem like fun and games it is actually a time to solidify the lesson in the children’s minds. It also encourages sharing, cooperation, and learning to follow instructions.

Want to see for yourself?
Parents are always welcome to join us for class but we do ask that you do not enter or exit the room during the story. This can be a distraction to the children during our most important time.

Running a little late?
Everybody has those days. Please feel free to bring your child to class ANYTIME (even during the scheduled story time.) We would much rather help a student get caught up than miss the opportunity to share God’s word with them altogether.

We hope this answers any questions you may have about the Children’s Ministry.
See you and your child soon!

Your brother and sister in Christ,
Chris and Jessica Cortez

Pleased to Meet You!

Hello and peace to you in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!

We are Chris and Jessica Cortez and we are blessed to lead the Children’s Ministry at Willard COG7. We are very excited to be able to reach out to you through blog-type posts such as this one and we would like to use our FIRST POST EVER to let you know what you can expect for your child when they are entrusted to our care.

Currently, the Children’s Ministry consists of Sabbath School every Saturday morning from 10:00AM to noon. This class is for children ages 5-8 and is focused on providing a scriptural foundation for spiritual growth and discovery. Our class size ranges from 4-12 but we usually have 7-8 children in attendance. Lessons come straight from the Bible and are intended not only to provide knowledge of the scriptures but also an understanding of how to apply the Living Word of God to everyday situations.

It is our hope the children will begin to see God, not as someone to be visited on the Sabbath, but as the Extraordinary God of everyday life!

Please keep this ministry and its children in your prayers and follow us from week to week to see what the children are learning.

Your brother and sister in Christ,

Christ and Jessica Cortez