Archives for March 2012

Fridays in March Madness: Giving a Sports-Themed Testimony



In their book The 10 Best Decisions Every Parent Can Make, Bill and Pam Farrel write the following:

"One of the best ways to train children to share their faith is to entertain evangelistically. Children have many opportunities to party with a purpose: Christmas, Easter, before or after children’s dramas, during a sports season, or in conjunction with a church event (p. 197)."

The authors go on to write out a few of the sports-related testimonies their sons have given at football events.

These testimonies vary from a one-minute tale of a well-known Christian athlete and what the testimony-giver has in common with that athlete to a challenge to the team based on a Scripture verse.

Have your sports-enthused child look up the story of Albert Pujols, David Robinson, Tim Tebow, or John Smoltz. They can use the figure to talk about Jesus to others.

Some Scriptures relating to athletics that your child might use in his or her testimony are:

Isaiah 40:29-31
“He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” (NIV)

1 Corinthians 9:25-27
“All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.” (NLT)

1 Timothy 4:8
“Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the life to come.” (NLT)

There are several other great verses as well. Search for the terms training, athlete, run, and body in your concordance or an online Bible search like

Playing team sports is one of the best metaphors for the Christian life. Teach your child how to use the metaphor and create a simple and effective testimony for witnessing to his friends and teammates.

Photo used from Flickr user krazydad and used with permission of Flickr Creative Commons.


Learning Scripture through Music by Mary Chase Breedlove

Every month, we "trade posts" with CentriKid. Here’s this month’s great post from writer Mary Chase Breedlove. 



My roommate is one of those people who seems to know every word to every song ever written. Do you know people like that? They’re the ones sitting with you in the restaurant singing along to the song you’ve never heard of playing in the background. When you try to impress them by knowing the lyrics of a not-so-popular genre, they still stump you with their thorough knowledge of the artist and album.

I wonder how many thousands of words I have memorized thanks to song lyrics. Even sitting here pondering this article, I cannot think of a concrete number of songs I have memorized—it seems infinite. I often wish I could put rules and formulas of trigonometry to a catchy melody.

It’s safe to say song memorization comes naturally, especially when it is a song we enjoy. It’s very encouraging to think that we can memorize Scripture through song; what a fantastic way for children to learn!

I have had the blessing and honor of working with CentriKid Camps for the past two summers. Last summer, Chris Wells was the worship leader for our team, and as we sang a song he wrote for the summer’s camp theme, “God Provides,” I had a sort of epiphany.

The lyrics were quite simple: God will provide everything that we need because His love comes to us though Jesus Christ. I was struck at both the power and simplicity of that phrase.

This experience opened my eyes to something about children’s ministry: music geared towards kids is incredibly powerful and effective. Children go home from camp and Vacation Bible School singing the songs—I am living proof. I learned one of my favorite Bible verses though VBS when I was a kid. A year or two later, I left Crosspoint at Carson Newman College after my first week of camp ever singing songs we learned the entire way home.

Aside from memorizing Scripture, children’s music taught me something else: it was during that time that I began to understand what worship meant. I first understood the concept of how to praise God through singing songs. I was taught at an early age that we are to worship God, but the “why” and “how” sank in through the context of kid-friendly worship music.

We can help kids learn Scripture through music at home, too! Play those VBS CDs from years past. A popular album when I was a kid was “Hide Em in Your Heart” by Steve Green. Sing every song you can think of that teaches biblical concepts. ParentLife’s friend Amanda at Impress Your Kids loves the Seeds Worship albums.

It doesn’t matter whether you can carry a tune. Your kids don’t care. They just want you to sing with them, do funny motions, and be with them. Helping them learn Scripture is a big takeaway from these things.


mary chase breedlove pic for centrikidblog.jpgMary Chase Breedlove is a Camp Director for CentriKid Camps.  She is graduating from Mississippi State and will be getting married soon!  Mary Chase wrote about her earliest experience with scripture memory on




Photo used with permission of Flickr Creative Commons. Click on photo for source.

A Preschooler’s Easter Dictionary

This is an extra bit that expands on the article “Easter & Your Preschooler” in the April 2012 issue.

Águas de Lindóia - Cross
source: Deni Williams via Flickr Creative Commons

Focus on what the Bible says as you talk to your child. Think about some unfamiliar words that your child will hear at Easter. Use these brief definitions:


  • cross — a wooden structure where Jesus died
  • dead — Jesus was dead when they took His body off the cross
  • tomb — Jesus’ body was put in a tomb. A tomb was a place to bury people, usually a cave with a big stone door.
  • alive — God made Jesus alive again to show how much He loves people. God can do things no one else can do.
  • Savior — someone who saves people from danger; the name Jesus means “Savior.”

You may also want to tell your child that even though she cannot see Jesus, she can know He is alive and in heaven because the Bible tells us so.

How do you help your small children understand Easter?

6 Ideas for Family Devotions by Kristy Williams


Having family devotions does not have to be scary. Teach your child about God throughout your daily routines.

  • Begin your day with a Bible verse. Show your child the verse in the Bible and read it aloud, encouraging her to repeat it. Say it together several times throughout the day.
  • Pray often. If you pass an ambulance while driving, say a prayer aloud together. If your child tells you about a friend’s lost cat, say a prayer together. Demonstrate for your child that prayers can be said anytime anywhere!
  • Cook with your child, talking about how God made food. Share the creation story about the garden of Eden. Discuss how God made your body to be His temple. Together, decide healthy ways to take care of your bodies.
  • Create skits from Bible stories. Play dress-up and perform your Bible skit for grandparents.
  • Plan a time of family worship each week. Let each family member choose a favorite worship song. Enjoy creating hand motions together!
  • Walk through your neighborhood, praying for your neighbors as you pass by each house.

Kristy Williams is a stay-at-home mom to two boys, Christian, 3, and Jameson, 18 months. She and her husband Gary attend Sarasota Baptist Church in Sarasota, Florida.

Photo from Flickr user linneberg and used with permission of Flickr Creative Commons. 

What’s in a Name? by Becky Suggs

Becky's Journal


27 weeks pregnant

Names. They are given to us at the beginning of our lives, and, for the most part, they stick with us for its entirety. How do you decide what name to give your newborn child? Do you choose a family name or try something completely out of the box? Do you spend hours pouring over meanings of names, seeking just the right one? Or, do you wait until your baby is born and see what name suits her best?

My husband and I waited until we found out we were having a girl to choose names. It really wasn’t an agonizing process. For us, we wanted to incorporate family names from both sides.

Meaning of names wasn’t something we dwelt on. After all, my name is Rebecca, and through research, I’ve seen it mean everything from “beautiful” to “snare” to “bovine”! (I think I’ll stick with the first meaning.) I was, however, pretty insistent it be a name that would go well with children’s rhymes and that her initials could be put on anything!

For us, using family names is something that brings both of our worlds together in a very tangible way. For me, it’s a way to honor both of our parents as we bring new life into this world. 

When our little one makes her debut in a few short months, she will be given the name Anderson Taylor Suggs. Anderson is my mother-in-law’s maiden name. Taylor is my father and grandfather’s middle name. 

Our daughter may not ever find her name on a set of pre-printed pencils. She may not have a name on the top 100 list of baby names. The meaning may not be exactly what she would have chosen. However, her name is one I pray brings honor to our families and God as she carries it with her throughout her life. 

Can you remember naming your children? Was it a tough decision? What processes did you go through as you named your children?

greatest picture.jpg


Becky Suggs and her husband, Robert, live in the mountains of Glorieta, New Mexico, with their pug, Sadie. They are expecting their first child in April. In her spare time, you can find Becky reading, enjoying the great outdoors, filling in squares to the latest crossword puzzle, and spending time with family. She has a passion for both kids and camping ministries.

Friday Links 3/23

Did you read or write something you’d like our readers to see? Leave a link in the comments, on our Facebook page, or send us a Tweet!

Creation Science by Jennifer Holt

Jennifer Holt wrote the article "In the Beginning: Teaching Kids about Creation" in our April issue. Here is a little more from Jennifer.


Mother Earth

Creation scientists attempt to explain with scientific evidence what many Christians already accept and believe – God is the Author and Creator of the universe and all living things in it.

In a world of confusing messages about what can and cannot be proven to be true, children are being told that the biblical account of the six days when God created the Earth is just a myth or a fairy tale used to explain the unexplainable. As a parent, you are challenged to provide your child with truth. If you do not believe the very first book of the Bible is true, where do you draw the line? Teach your child that all Scripture is true and trustworthy. His faith depends on it.

Consider using the great resources [listed in the article] to help answer the tough questions your child is asking. Take every opportunity to bring glory to God and praise Him for the creation you see around you. Remind your child “the heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky proclaims the work of His hands” (Psalm 19:1). Evidence of His awesome power surrounds you every day. You must only open your eyes and heart to recognize it.


creatorforkids.jpgOne of the recommended resources from the magazine is Lee Strobel’s Case for a Creator for Kids. The publisher says: "You meet skeptics every day. They ask questions like: Are your science teachers wrong? Did God create the universe? Is the Big Bang theory true? Here’s a book written in kid-friendly language that gives you all the answers. Packed full of well-researched, reliable, and eye-opening investigations of some of the biggest questions, Case for a Creator for Kids uses up-to-date scientific research to strengthen your faith in God’s creation."

Case for a Creator for Kids is best for ages 9 through 12 and retails for $7.99, with bulk pricing available if your children’s ministry wishes to purchase a larger quantity.

How do you teach your kids about creation?


Pausing for Passover by Michelle Lippincott

In our April 2012 issue, Michelle Lippinscott talks about spending Easter really reflecting on Jesus using the Jewish celebration Passover as a tool. Here, she outlines the aspects and traditions of Passover, so you might intregrate them into your own little seder.




Some of the elements that are present with a traditional Passover meal include the following:


  • A Seder Plate: This special plate holds a lamb shank bone, unleavened bread, and bitter herbs. Some families add fresh greens, a boiled egg, and Haroset, a mixture of apples, nuts, and grape juice, which represents the mortar used to build Egyptian buildings.
  • Four Cups: Each of four cups of juice or wine represents one of the expressions of redemption mentioned in Exodus 6:6-7. They are the cups of Sanctification, Judgment, Redemption and the Kingdom.
  • Washing of the Hands: Jesus washed His disciples’ feet the night He ate the Last Supper. Washing is an act of humility and illustrates one’s desire to live a pure life before God.
  • Three Pieces of Matzah: Leaven represents sin in the Bible. Jesus is the “Bread of Life” and is without sin. The three pieces symbolize the Trinity — God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The middle piece (representing Jesus) is broken and wrapped in cloth. It is hidden/buried and later the children look for this and return it for a reward. This is the Afikoman game.
  • The Four Questions: Children play an important part of traditional Passover celebrations. Typically the youngest child asks four questions that lead to the retelling of the Passover story (Ex. 12:3-49).*
  • The Passover Story: This can be read from the Bible or an illustrated picture book for young children.
  • Psalms/Songs: Passover is a celebration. Traditionally a Seder includes reciting, reading or singing some or all of Psalms 113–118 followed by Psalm 136. This concludes the Seder.

Your family may choose to use some or all of the elements from a traditional Passover. Don’t get so caught up in “doing it right” that you lose the meaning of this feast. You might start with a simple celebration and add traditional elements as your family becomes more familiar with Passover. Although there are many traditions, Scripture is largely silent on the details. Ask God how you can best honor him and invite Jesus to be a part of your family’s celebration.

*The Four Questions

  1. Why do we eat unleavened bread on this night when all other nights we eat either leavened bread or matzah?
  2. Why do we eat only bitter herbs on this night when all other nights we eat all kinds of vegetables?
  3. Why do we dip our vegetables twice on this night when we do not dip our vegetables even once all other nights?
  4. Why do we eat our meals reclining on this night when on all other nights we eat our meals sitting or reclining?

Have you ever celebrated a seder or considered it? In college, I attended an interfaith seder. It was very beautiful and so interesting to participate in.  – Jessie

Photo used with permission of Flickr Creative Commons. Click on photo for source.

Fridays in March Madness: Basketball Party

Why not find a reason to celebrate in this almost-Spring, not-quite-Easter time? In our family, we really enjoy March Madness time simply because it gives us something to do together without our planning.

If you’re into a little planning, however, throw a basketball party! You can go big and invite friends or extended family or simply make it a casual family gathering over dinner and a game.

Either way, here are some fun ideas for a basketball-themed event.

  • Make basketball cookies or a basketball cake. The cookie recipe calls for royal icing, but I won’t tell anyone if you tint store-bought icing. I love that the cake uses black licorice for laces!




  • Decorating in orange and black screams basketball! Hang orange and black streamers.
  • Have a chalkboard or whiteboard with a bracket on it so you can follow the games.
  • During halftime, play a game of two-on-two or HORSE outside if you have a hoop. Or, improvise: have someone hold a hula hoop or a large bowl and try to get the ball in it!
  • Wear team gear. Who cares if it’s the team playing? It lends atmosphere.
  • Hang a banner with this Scripture: Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever (1 Corinthians 9:25). Play a game to help kids (and parents!) memorize it during commercial breaks.
  • Have younger children decorate a crown to help them memorize the verse. Spend some time explaining what "a crown that will last forever" means.

Enjoy the game, and see you next Friday for more Fridays in March Madness!

Post-Diagnosis by Michael Kelley

We hope you read the excellent article by Michael Kelley in our March issue. In his new book Wednesdays Were Pretty Normal, Kelley talks about the questions of faith that followed his 2-year-old son’s diagnosis with leukemia.

Here is an excerpt from the first chapter, immediately after Joshua receives his diagnosis.

In a span of moments that seemed like months, we had become “those people.” You know those people— the ones with the sick kid. The ones with the terminal disease. The ones with “issues.” The ones you don’t get too close to, not because you don’t care but because you don’t want to think about what life would be like if that happened to you. You know, those people.

The worst part is that we were not those people—we were the people who were supposed to “be there” for those people. I went to seminary for crying out loud! I was a professional Christian! We were a family of faith who believed in Jesus and His way of life, and as such we prepared ourselves to counsel those people. We filled our spiritual tool bag with Bible verses and theological sayings. We practiced good eye contact and carried tissues in our pockets to give to someone else. In all of our preparation to be with those people, we never prepared to be those people ourselves.

But I guess nobody ever really does. Nobody is ever prepared for the weight of the words, for the suddenness of this diagnosis. And maybe that’s why nobody really knows the right way to act when you become those people. But when you become those people, some things have to be done. Like, for example, making the phone calls.

Talk about being unequipped. I did not have the skill set to talk to the grandparents. The aunts and uncles. The friends. I didn’t have the emotional equipment. Heck, I didn’t even have the informational equipment. I certainly didn’t have the spiritual equipment, but the calls had to be made, and made they were. At great length I was able to articulate the diagnosis to both sets of our parents. The effort of squeezing those thousand-pound words out of my mouth made me gag several times, but after a long time in the courtyard of the hospital, I walked back inside to join my wife.



I found her eating pizza. Can you believe it? Freaking pizza! But here’s the thing—she had to eat pizza; when Joshua was diagnosed, Jana was two months pregnant with our second child. I don’t think either one of us realized how hungry we were until the sweet nectar of pork and cheese hit our lips, and we devoured what was in front of us. And then, in the middle of the feast, we started to laugh.

Truth be told, I’m not sure what it was that we laughed about, but something was funny and we laughed. And we laughed. Then we laughed more. I quoted a line from Steel Magnolias about laughter through tears; then we laughed at how ridiculous it was that I quoted Steel Magnolias. She made fun of me for my knowledge of chick flicks. I made fun of her for her inability to stop eating pizza.

The pizza helped a lot for some reason. Maybe it was a reminder that some things in life would still be stable and regular, like our need for food that’s bad for us. We would still sleep, still work, still live. And as we settled down a little bit and the initial shock of how life had just changed started to sink in, I had time to start processing some of those questions we were just beginning to have.

What does one do—one who believes in the gospel of Jesus Christ and gets paid for speaking and writing to others about how to do so better—what does someone like that do with news like this? At least in part, I think the right answer is to believe. Have faith. But what I began to realize is that up to that point in my life, faith had largely just been a noun.

Used by permission   Excerpt taken from Wednesdays Were Pretty Normal; A boy, cancer and God /Michael Kelley/c. 2012/B&H Publishing Group


michaelkelley.jpgMichael Kelley is a Bible study editor for LifeWay Christian Resources as well as a writer of several books and Bible studies. He is father to Joshua (5), Andi (3), and baby Christian and husband to Jana.