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Archive for the ‘Awana at Home’ Category

The theme of this lesson is God is always with us. Do we trust that God is with us, even when we can’t see Him?

Game Time:

For game time, the suggestion was to put several things in paper bags, then have each person come, blindfolded, and attempt to determine what was in each bag. It’s also recommended you have a small prize for the winner. My wife and I set up the following bags:

  • Popcorn (popped)
  • Pistachio nuts
  • Gummi worms
  • Hard boiled egg (with the shell taken off)
  • Nickelodeon slime
  • Beef stew dog food

The two older boys got two a piece. However, my five year-old daughter got 3 out of the first 4 (missing on the pistachio nuts). So we went ahead and declared her the winner. The object, of course, was for them to trust that there was nothing in the bags that would harm them. They put that trust in whichever adult led them over to put their hands in the bag.

Handbook Time:

For handbook time, the kids paired off (my youngest working with my wife). The idea was to pass a ball or hacky-sack around. When you had it, you were supposed to say a verse. This trading back and forth approach seemed to work well with the older boys. Both got to practice their verses and it seemed better than when one says them all and then the other goes. I think it helps break up the monotony.

Bible Time:

The episode this time centered around one boy’s fears of speaking in public: Called on in Class. Trent has to give a speech based on a project he has done. Initially he is scared to death to do it, and looks for every delay possible to postpone the inevitable. However, during the episode, he learns about his great-great-grandfather, who had similar fears, yet overcame them to become mayor of Odyssey. Trent actually begins his speech with a joke that goes over well, but then the bell rings. Over the weekend he decides instead to do his speech on his great-great-grandfather, showing that he has overcome his fear.

After the story we talked about the fear Trent had and other things that we are afraid of. We also talked about how even though we may be scared, God is with us. He is never away from us. This led us to discuss Philipians 4:6-7, which states the following (ESV):

do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

It’s easy for us to forget that God is with us, but we can, through prayer, remember, and feel His strength. It grants us peace, a peace we can find in no other way. We talked a little bit about that before closing out our Awana at Home time.

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Week 9’s theme is God’s Word is Worth Memorizing. This makes sense, as one of the main facets of the Awana program is Bible memorization. But why do memorize Scriptures from the Bible? That’s the whole point of this lesson.

Game Time:

The game time suggestion was to play hide and seek or sardines. Normally, I would be all for this, but when we did week 9, my wife was very pregnant. That meant those kinds of games were out. However, my wife was doing a review on Wits and Wagers Family, which is about trying to guess on things you likely don’t know. This seemed like the perfect game to reinforce the message of the lesson. One really doesn’t want to be in the position of guessing what God wants from us. Bible memorization helps with that. We played a couple of times and had a blast. It’s a fun game which even the little ones can play.

Handbook Time:

The recommendation is to write each word of the verses the children are trying to memorize on individual index cards and then hiding the cards around the house. This is a great technique that our Games Director used at the Awana club. Basically, the teams participated in a relay to go and retrieve one card at a time. Then once they had all the cards, they had to assemble the cards into the correct verse. It was challenging for the kids, but they had fun with this game. If your children are having a little difficulty memorizing a verse, this is a good way to mix things up in a way that is fun.

Bible Time:

The Adventures in Odyssey episode for this lesson is Hidden in My Heart. In this episode, David faces a situation that while exaggerated, reveals the danger of not knowing God’s Word. The main character, David, faces a challenge that he doesn’t know how to answer. However, he has the ability to call the “119 operator” in order to help locate a verse which refutes the situation he has found himself in. We don’t have access to any such thing (wouldn’t that be neat?) so we must rely on memorizing God’s Word to protect ourselves from situations where we may have a choice to go against God. We can’t always have our Bibles with us and even if we do, we might not remember exactly where the Scripture is.

Now, as a matter of personal commentary, I realize that with Internet-enabled phones, Bible Gateway is but a search away. But what if you don’t have signal? And if you’ve ever considered trying to witness to someone, it can be perceived as rude to constantly being typing away on your phone to look up verses. There is simply no substitute to committing key verses from Scripture to memory.

 

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When we first started doing Awana at Home, the Awana year had not begun yet at our church. All of our kids had completed their books up to the point they were allowed, so the question was, what to do for Handbook Time? The solution was to use the TruthScripts verses that Awana provides. The TruthScripts aren’t anything fancy. They are basically passages of Scripture which can be memorized over a few weeks by taking 1-2 verses at a time. The nice thing about using TruthScripts is some of the resources are already available for use. For instance, here’s what’s available on the resource page:

  • PowerPoint slides of the verses
  • Printable bookmarks of the verses
  • Family devotionals around the verses (which you could for Bible Time if you’re not using one of the other curricula)
  • MP3 audio files of the verses
  • Flash cards of the verses

In our case, all we needed were the PowerPoint slides. We went at a pace of 2 verses a week and attacked Psalm 1, which was very doable. In fact, our five year-old was able to handle the verses and still remembers them months later. We will likely refresh over the next week, but it’s definitely doable as a family, even down to Sparks level. If you want to do another set of verses, you can riff off of what they have done and make your own slides and printable bookmarks.

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This week focuses on the core message of Awana, being a worker approved by God. Awana is actually an acronym which means:

Approved
Workmen
Are
Not
Ashamed


Game Time:

For this game time, the recommendation is to play a Bible trivial game. You can go out and buy one of the various ones out there, you can grab flash cards of Bible trivia from your local Christian store, or, if you’re like me, you have a stock of questions. Over the years of children’s and youth ministry, I’ve collected good questions that help teach Scripture in a catechism type of format (question and answer).  I also intermix trick and intentionally false questions to keep players and actively thinking instead of just answering as a reaction. Some of my favorites:

Q: How many of each type of animal did Moses take on the ark?
A: None. Noah took animals on to the ark, not Moses.

Q: After what book of the Bible is the book of Hezekiah found?
A: None. Hezekiah was a king in the Bible, who ruled during the time of Isaiah. However, there is no book of Hezekiah.

In our case we split into teams. The first team was team boys consisting of my 12 and 11 year-old sons. The second team was team girls consisting of my wife and my 5 year-old daughter. The boys used to be in Children’s Church at a previous church where I served, Southeast Community Church. We would frequently have Bible Trivia Championship competitions as the game to end Children’s Church. We even went so far as to buy one of the wrestling championship belts and re-title it. Whoever won the last competition would find me before Sunday School and they carried that belt around until it was time for Children’s Church. All the adults knew what the belt meant and congratulated the current champion. This kind of recognition was amazing at spurring on the kids to want to learn and do well. Even the four and five year-olds were ready and willing to compete with the fifth and sixth graders.

But back to this game, the girls pulled it out by one at the end. It was a good introduction into the Bible Time.

Bible Time:

Because we had just come from a game that emphasized Bible knowledge so much, we went immediately into Bible Time. The episode for this week is A Worker Approved when one of the youth is shocked and dismayed at the fact that someone who has been a Christian a far shorter time is farther along in her Bible knowledge. The reality was the second youth was putting time into studying and was actively asking questions and reading and studying to find the answers. This caused the first youth to finally come to an understanding that such a practice was necessary in her own life.

The fact of the matter is that when tempted by Satan in the desert, Christ repeatedly responded to the temptations with Scripture. This is what we should arm ourselves with, too. This is where the discussion leads to after the episode: Scripture isn’t just “homework,” but our guidance and our protection. As a result, it is important for us to study it, learn it, and memorize it, so that we can use it and have it available to us when we are challenged by life.

Handbook Time:

The recommendation this week isn’t just to learn the Bible verses, but to turn them into prayers, too. This is an effective way to study Scripture. When we read a promise, we can turn it back around and thank God for the promise. When we read a correction, we can repent and then turn around and ask forgiveness according to that correction and then thank God for redeeming us from that sin. It’s something that not only helps us learn the Scripture, but it also helps children (and adults) better learn how to actively pray to the Lord.

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Week 07’s lesson is  a reminder that everyone is a sinner. However, just because everyone sins, that doesn’t give us the license to do it. This is a central theme during Bible Time for this week.

Game Time:

The game recommended is a kids’ version of Trivial Pursuit. I looked for it at various stores and on-line, but couldn’t find the children’s version available any longer, except as a used (and now treated as a collectible) copy. There are some copies that refer back to “classic times” for us adults, but that’s not the same thing as an easier version for the younger children. What we did find is that Hasbro has made a Trivial Pursuit Family Edition version of the game. It’s great because there are two sets of questions. The harder ones are obviously for the adults. The easier ones are for the children. Some of the questions were easy enough that our five year-old was also able to play. However, even the children’s questions weren’t all so easy that the older kids sweep right through. So we found the game perfect, especially considering the idea of a quiz show being used as the central theme for the Bible time. For us, it was a hard fought game with the eleven year-old prevailing in the quick version of the game. He deserved it. We tested him with every question on the last card and he knew the answers to all of them.

Handbook Time:

The recommendation was to combine handbook time with game time. Before a piece was able to successfully be moved, the child or parent would have to recite one of the memory verses to be tested on this week. While this was a good idea, we are pretty comfortable with how our children are learning their verses and completing their sections. So we just set aside a bit of time for everyone to work on their handbooks.

Bible Time:

This episode of Adventures in Odyssey deal with Dwayne getting on to a game show. He’s fed the questions and answers ahead of time so he can do well. He at first accepts the questions/answers, but eventually the knowledge of what is right convinces him to come clean and explain that he had the answers beforehand. The follow-on questions deal with the fact that Dwayne was told be an adult it was okay for him to have the answers. This, of course, is not true. It’s good to have an episode that deals on this subject because it gave us a chance to remind our children that we can be wrong and that we will be wrong from time-to-time. It’s always proper to go back and check what God’s Word has to say if you aren’t sure than it is to assume the adult is right and therefore do something which God says not to.

A second story concerns Liz telling everyone a secret about her friend Jared because she thought Jared had shared one of her secrets. That, of course, wasn’t the case and the situation blew up in her face. This opens the door to talk about how to respond when someone has done something wrong against us. The absolute incorrect thing is to respond in kind. A friend of mine back in junior high school lived by a philosophy, “I don’t get even. I don’t get mad. I get ahead.” That sounds good, except when you consider what life is like if we’re always trying to stay one-up on everyone with how we hurt them or embarrass them. No wonder Christ asked us to forgive!

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Week 06 picks up where week 05 ended: looking at Saul. These two weeks together are a good set of lessons on how God can change us from the people we are to the people He wants us to be.

Game Time:

The game time was for the children to have a race to completely change outfits every time a parent says go. We tried this a couple of times and what we found was that both boys were able to complete change clothes in less than a minute. “Hmmm,” we thought. That led us to remind the boys that now we knew how fast they could get dressed when they wanted to, so they had no more excuses. Overall it was a good game. We gave a slight handicap to our five year-old, because her brothers were older, and it was a reasonable competition. This is a game you definitely want to do, because it leads well into the Bible titme.

Handbook Time:

The recommendation for this week was to try and use hand motions to remember verses. With my children, they aren’t super expressive with their hands, so we allowed them to use their normal techniques for memorizing their sections. However, if you have a child who is a kinesthetic learner, this may be a good approach for anything like memorization. It allows them to move in a way that is not considered detrimental or distracting and it helps them learn what it is they need to learn. If you aren’t familiar with the way your child learns best, check out the book The Way They Learn by Cynthia Tobias. It is an excellent and easy read to help you work with your child better in a way that they can process the information quicker and easier. After reading it, it changed the way I worked with children and youth. In addition, whenever I begin a new Sunday school year with the junior high youth group, I very briefly cover the way folks tend to learn so they can understand and look for what works best for them.

Bible Time:

This week’s episode from Adventures in Odyssey is Saint Paul: Set Apart by God. As I mentioned earlier, it is a follow-on to last week. What is revealed in this episode is how different Paul, formerly Saul, became from how he was previously. Where before he was hunting Christians, after meeting Jesus on the road to Damascus, he became a great missionary and evangelist for the Gospel. He truly learned how he must suffer for Christ’s sake, as promised by Jesus in that first encounter.

Of course, this is where a conversation about what happened last week and about the game from this week applied to the lesson. Paul had effectively shed his old clothes, the old Saul, and put on new clothes and become the new Paul. This was done by the power of the Holy Spirit, for He guided Paul through that change. This is a great time to ask questions about how we can change and the lesson material leads into that.

 

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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.

Game Time:

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.

Bible Time:

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.

Handbook Time:

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.

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