Monday, September 10, 2012

Bricks

As I've said before, I love working with the elementary aged kids at our church! It's only been two months, and it's been wonderful. God has been speaking to me through this, and I have been experiencing such fulfillment.

The first month, I was a part of things, I observed. I helped out where needed, but mostly I hung back and watched. I learned what would be expected of me, and how others were accomplishing things. I shadowed a couple adults, and got to know the kids more. I've almost learned every kid's name now, after two months!

The second month, I was assigned as a teacher on my own. I knew this was something I really wanted to be doing, but I still had that tiny part of me that was afraid of whether or not I would be good at what I was doing. I have since decided that God can use me regardless of how I feel. Feelings can lie to you. All He's looking for is people to be willing to let Him work through them.

My first lesson I was in charge of was a project center on a Sunday morning. When the kids arrive in KidZone, we all worship together with plenty of actions to the songs. DJ, our children's pastor, gets up and shares a Bible story or lesson. Then the kids break into their teams and rotate between centers. There's always a project center, a game center, sometimes a snack center, and when there are lots of help there is a surprise center. My official job on a Sunday morning is to be in charge of the project center. I'm known for my creativity so this was a perfect for me. I really love the job!

Each Monday our children's pastor will email us the topic or chapter we will be working on that next week, for both Sunday and Wednesday. Wednesday night's lesson will go into a little more detail.

My first assignment was Exodus chapter 5. The Israelites receive cruel treatment. I needed to come up with some kind of craft to fit the theme. If you're not familiar with the chapter, it's when Moses approaches Pharaoh and asks if he will release the Israelites to go into the wilderness to worship God. Pharaoh says no, and makes the slaves work even more difficult. He stops providing the straw, but expects them to make just as many bricks as before. All the Israelites are angry at Moses because now things are much worse!

After much preparation and study, I finally came up with a short craft/lesson. This was not an easy topic to cover. There are tons of ideas out there for Moses; you have Moses and the Burning Bush, Moses as a baby, Moses and the Plagues, Moses parts the Red Sea, the list goes on. But Moses and the Bricks... not so much. It's not one of those classic children's Bible stories.

The best way to find a lesson that is God inspired is to ask God. Sounds so simple, doesn't it? For some reason, I always rely on myself first. I use God as a last resort when I can't figure things out. How much easier of a time would I have had if I went to Him first?

I started the kids out with a sheet of bricks. Each brick represents a problem. The Israelites had numerous issues; I mean really, they were slaves. It doesn't get much worse than that.

I wanted the kids to write on each brick some problem that they had. It could be huge or it could be small. It didn't matter the size, it just represents troubles. We all have things that we are dealing with. For a kid, it might be things that aren't their fault, things that are done to them. And it could be things that are their fault, areas in their life where they're falling short. To name a few examples: too much homework, bullies, cheating, lying, fighting, hurtful words, lonely, afraid, angry... the list goes on.

Once we figured out all our problems, we glued the bricks onto a house. We then traced a large cross on another sheet of paper, and cut it out. I had the kids glue the cross on top of their bricks, not worrying if the cross was covering some. I had the kids write JESUS across the cross, and the verse Philippians 4:13 down the middle. "I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength."

Israelites make bricks bible lesson
When the Israelites had their straw taken away from them, this made their work practically impossible. The straw is what helped the bricks to dry quickly. Without straw, the clay would take days to dry, thus making it hard for them to meet their daily quote of bricks. They were now expected to gather their own straw, and make the same amount. Impossible!

We know how unhappy this made the Israelites. They complained and whined about how hard it was for them. They wanted someone to blame, so it all rested at Moses feet. He was the cause of their trouble. It was all his fault! Or so the Israelites thought.

Moses faced problem after problem, and he didn't know what was coming next or how it was all going to work out. When we see the story of Moses, we know how it ends. If we were there with him we could tell him to wait just a little longer. God was going to take care of things. God was going to free everyone! Don't be mad or afraid, God will work everything out.

Just like Moses can't see how things will work out for his good, we can only see our problem that's right in front of our nose. We see a pile of bricks. Our trouble is overwhelming us, and we are constantly making more bricks. The troubles are growing more and more instead of going away.

God knew how Moses' story would end, and He knows every page of our story. He doesn't see a pile of bricks sitting there with no meaning at all. He sees the beautiful building that's going to eventually be built. Each and every brick has a reason. If you take one of them away, the walls would weaken and the foundation might crumble. God has a reason and a plan for everything in our life. He puts it all together to make something beautiful.

I think this lesson is for more than young children. I think all of us have our own set of bricks in our lives. They just have different names. God is perfectly able to transform our bricks into a masterpiece, no matter what brick it is, or where that brick has come from. God is a miracle God, and a master architect.

"I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength!" Philippians 4:13

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