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Mission: Difficult

The following was excerpted from Nick Lannon’s fantastic new book Life Is Impossible: And That’s Good News—a fundamental distillation of the law and the gospel in everyday life. This comes from the third chapter “Mission: Difficult.” I have heard the Christian life described in many different ways. Some have compared it to a race, or […]

NOW AVAILABLE: StoryMakers – Adventure One: Creation

Pleased to announce that StoryMakers’ first kidzine has landed and is available through our online shop and StoryMakersNYC.com!

When we give kids stories that spark the imagination, we aren’t giving them distractions to tide them over until they can handle “the big stuff.” Stories ARE the big stuff. And the story of our rescue by God is the biggest story of all and for all. StoryMakers offers a new approach to drawing kids into this ultimate story—and helping them find their own stories within it.

Many of us remember getting a heaping dose of LAW as the first part of our early spiritual formation as children. In fact, the church has confused generations of children by leading them to believe that Christianity is all about following the golden rules of life in order to earn God’s favor. When young people come out of their church experience associating the Christian faith solely with moralism, two types of adults emerge—pharisees or burnouts.

At StoryMakers, we recognize that kids (and their grown-ups) need GRACE first and foundationally. So how do we help young people connect to this grace? We tell them the stories of the Bible, all of which are ultimately the love story of Jesus, the one who created us, loves us, and is actively redeeming us! We introduce them to a person, not a list of rules.

And by giving our kids the chance to engage the stories of the Bible through imaginative creation and play, we tap into their developmental forte. Kids don’t need to take a giant leap of faith to envision the stories of the Bible, so we use their natural curiosity, creativity, and imagination as the pathway into a lifetime of being known and loved by God.

Our first Adventure is an immersive experience all about Creation. Children will discover that God is the Creator of all, the ultimate StoryMaker, and faithfully shows mercy to us from the very beginning. Through our visuals and activities, StoryMakers will experience the progression of Genesis and will be given a glimpse into God’s promises to Creation.

  • The zine explores a story of the Bible over 12 weeks and includes art, fun facts, interactive play, and thoughts to ponder. Every chapter includes a 6-page spread, so there is plenty of detail to dig deep. ($20, or save 25% on 5 or more)
  • The teacher’s guide helps grown-ups use the kidzine with their children and students. Sometimes it is hard for adults even to know where to begin teaching the old stories with our little ones. Our Creation guide is available to support our StoryMakers along the way. It includes: Fun Facts, Deeper Thoughts, and Activity Instruction. The guide is perfect for any grown-up hoping to connect and discover God’s love and mercy alongside children. ($15)
  • The memory cards use visual prompts to turn memorization into a fun game. Order this set of memory cards and get to know Creation and God’s words of hope in the midst of the Fall. Each card is visually compelling with cues to help your StoryMaker internalize God’s story. ($12)
  • The playbook is tailored to help children enjoy Creation by playing all the characters in the story. You can use your puppets, or jump into costumes and play all the parts, to get to know Genesis in a new way. ($10)
  • You can purchase the entire creation zine set together. Each kit includes a zine, a teacher’s guide, our memory cards, and the playbook. Every piece enhances the StoryMaker experience and will bring Creation to life. ($50)
  • Last but not least, you can also download 12 printable posters, drawn from the beautiful zine illustrations. ($5 each)

ORDER YOUR FIRST ADVENTURE TODAY!

Through Him All Things Were Made: Mercy in John Chapter One

Grateful to share this sermon by author Francis Spufford, delivered this February at St. Mary the Virgin in Oxford. The full passage is John 1:1-14. And without him not one thing came into being. May I speak in the name of God; Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen. I’ve been hearing the first chapter of […]

The Science of Miracles

This one comes to us from Tim Burbery. Passover is upon us, providing a superb opportunity for reflecting on the original event as well as the miracle of the Exodus. A number of scientific theories have attempted to explain how the plagues and the Red Sea crossing could be accounted for by natural causes, and […]

Rejoice: The Absurd Command, Part 3

The conclusion of a three-part series. Read the others here. Beloved, we are always in the wrong, Handling so clumsily our stupid lives, Suffering too little or too long, Too careful even in our selfish loves: The decorative manias we obey Die in grimaces round us every day, Yet through their tohu-bohu comes a voice […]

Hopelessly Devoted: The Conviction of Things Not Seen (Hebrews Chapter Eleven Verse One)

This morning’s devotion was written by David Zahl for The Mockingbird Devotional. Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1, NASB) When you look at your career, your marriage, your health—do you spend more time thinking about what you don’t have than what you do? Even […]

The Failure of Best Intentions (Mark 14:27-31)

This timely excerpt is taken from Larry Parsley’s devotional, An Easy Stroll Through a Short Gospel: Meditations on Mark.  Peter declared, “Even if all fall away, I will not.” “Truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “today—yes, tonight—before the rooster crows twice you yourself will disown me three times.” (14:29–30) If you have read the gospels […]

I Love You, But I’m Not Gonna Wash Your Feet

Sometimes I’m asked after our Maundy Thursday service why we don’t hold a foot washing like some other churches do on that night. They’re never quite prepared for my answer. The reason I don’t do foot washings is that I’m not sure about the theology communicated in that act, namely that we are at all […]

The Top Ten Reasons the Lectionary Sucks and Five Half-Assed Solutions

This one comes to us from Sarah Hinlicky Wilson: A lectionary is a collection of readings for Sunday worship, ordered according to the seasons of the church year. The version most widely used by mainline Protestants is the Revised Common Lectionary, though others such as the earlier Common Lectionary and the Roman Catholic Lectionary for […]

How Does the Gospel Work?

“Here I felt that I was altogether born again and had entered paradise itself through open gates…” – Martin Luther “About a quarter before nine, while [Luther’s commentary] was describing the change which God works in the heart through faith in Christ, I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ, […]

Adam Smith and the Nature of Heaven

This one comes to us from David Clay. Adam Smith, widely acknowledged as the father of modern economics, was first and foremost a moral philosopher by trade. Nearly two decades before Wealth of Nations (1776) revolutionized the world’s understanding of economics, Smith had established his philosophical reputation throughout Europe with The Theory of Moral Sentiments […]

Hopelessly Devoted: Psalm Chapter Thirty-Four Verse Eighteen

This morning’s devotion was written by David Zahl in The Mockingbird Devotional. (Note, if you haven’t read David’s guest column in The Washington Post from this past weekend, visit here to do so.)

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. (Psalm 34:18, NIV)

There are many, many great songs about broken hearts. One of the greatest has to be Jimmy Ruffin’s 1966 hit, “What Becomes of the Broken Hearted?” The record is as close to perfection as pop music can get: a powerful lyric married to an irresistible melody, delivered with feeling in just under three minutes. Pure Motown gold.

The song captures something powerful in its vivid description of brokenheartedness: “I walk in shadows, searching for light, cold and alone, no comfort in sight, hoping and praying for someone to care, always moving and going nowhere”. Most of us can point to a time when these words felt true for us, when we were hurt so badly that we thought we would never heal. The end of a romantic relationship is the most common culprit, but there are plenty of others. The death of a loved one, the disappointment of a dream, even the wrong candidate winning an election—and the list goes on.

Sadly, heartbreaking experiences tend to be definitive. They leave their mark whether we like it or not. I am reminded of a friend who broke up with his college sweetheart almost ten years ago. He confessed to me recently that he still thinks about it every day and wonders if the majority of his subsequent relationships have been an attempt to mitigate that pain. He can’t seem to “get over it” because he cannot mend his own heart.

A broken heart is characterized by need. The psalmist reminds us here that God meets us in that place of need. He does not shun people who have been hurt. He does not reject those who have been rejected or disappoint those who have been disappointed. Thanks be to God, He is close to them and saves them.