Because of the game time recommendation, we decided to do this session at the Columbia Riverfront Park in downtown Columbia.It’s a great place for a picnic, so that’s exactly what we did. We grabbed some fried chicken for dinner, enjoyed that as a family, then went and did game time at the park.
The suggested game time was to skip rocks along the water. The tie in to rocks is the episode during Bible Time is the first part of a two-part series on Saul of Tarsus. In this one we hear about the stoning of Stephen. We were up a little high to be able to skip rocks, so instead we changed it into a distance throwing contest. We used it as a time to reinforce the lessons one of my sons learned at STARBASE, a program put on by the Department of Defense to increase the knowledge and interest in science and engineering among youth. We applied Newton’s three laws of motions to describe why heavier rocks could go farther then the lighter rocks and talked about air resistance.
For Bible time we got back into the minivan and headed home. It was getting dark, so it was time to leave the park and the time it would take to get home was perfect for listening to the episode of Adventures in Odyssey that went along with the lesson. This one was Saint Paul: The Man from Tarsus. In this episode we learn about the Saul we see in the opening of Acts, through Acts 9 where he is blinded on the road to Damascus and finally reaches his destination in the city, albeit still without his sight. Of course, this means that the stoning of Stephen is covered.
We talked about how Saul did some egregious things. He gave approval for the stoning of Stephen. He received papers and approval from the council in Jerusalem to go after other Christians in Damascus. The question of whether he is a good man or bad man is difficult to answer from one perspective, but no so difficult to answer from another. From the first perspective, yes, he did some horrible things. However, he was a very learned man, very advanced compared to his peers. He was driven to excel. Those are qualities we generally consider good. His pursuit to excel, especially when it came to matters of faith, however, led him to the crimes we remember him for, such as the stoning of Stephen. And that’s why in the first perspective you can see some good amidst the bad. But in the second perspective, the one from which God looks, we can find no good in him. We see this in the example of the rich, young ruler (Mark 10:17-29) who approaches Jesus and calls him “good teacher” to which Jesus responds that there is no one good except God alone.
And this led back to a discussion of grace and how none of us are deserving of it. Just as John Newton did not deserve it, neither did Saul. Nor do we. Yet God, in His mercy, offers grace through His Son Jesus Christ. While we may not understand why He offers it to each of us, Scripture reveals that He does. Men like John Newton and Saul also remind us that none of us are so bad that we cannot be saved, for in God’s eyes, none of us were any good to begin with. And that is the reason we need His Son.
The suggestion used was to gather smooth rocks and put words from the memory verses on those rocks. We chose not to do this. Rather, we all simply took the time to study our respective sections as one big family. For my wife, she used the book corresponding with the first year of Sparks. Awana has taken the time to put together Bible studies corresponding with Sparks (K-2nd grade) all the way through Senior High. My oldest is in Trek and we’re using the Roadsign series this year, and there are Bible studies you can download and use. The Trek series corresponds well, giving the parents suggestions on how to encourage and help their Trek clubber with their books in addition to allowing the parents to study right along side of them. So that’s what I worked on during Handbook Time.