The Story Chapter 6 - Week Beginning 10 October

Chapter 6: Wandering

Timeless Truth: Faith in God’s promises will be rewarded. Doubt will be punished.

Bible Basis: Numbers 13-14, 20:1-13, Deuteronomy 34

Key Verse: [Joshua and Caleb] said, “If the Lord is pleased with us, he’ll lead us into that land. … He’ll give it to us” (Numbers 14:8).

Parent Tips:

Use the Table Talk questions to start a discussion around the dinner table during the week. The Living Faith activity is designed to help your family understand the importance of knowing and following God’s promises. The Extra Mile will build trust among your family.

Get the Point:

Preschool: Joshua and Caleb were confident in God's promise. I can be confident in God's promises, too.

Elementary: Joshua and Caleb were confident in God’s promise. I can be confident no matter what.

Middle School: God will always come through on His promises, but disobeying God’s plan leads to suffering.

High School: Stand up for God against the majority, like Joshua and Caleb did, and you will enjoy the fullness of God’s promises.

Table Talk

Preschool/Elementary

Say This week The Story tells us how 12 spies went in to look at God’s promised land and 10 came back scared. Only Caleb and Joshua were excited about going into the Promised Land. Ask:

- Why were Joshua and Caleb so confident they could defeat people who were bigger than they were and lived in strong cities? (They trusted God; they had faith in His promises.)

- Were the other 10 spies focused more on God or on the situations?

- By focusing on earthly things, the 10 spies were too scared to trust God. What are some things in your life that scare you?

- Does your fear ever keep you from doing something you want to?

- How can you overcome that fear? What are some of the benefits of overcoming that fear?

Middle/High School

- The Israelites chose to listen to the 10 fearful spies, instead of Joshua and Caleb—who trusted God. Because of that, they missed out on the fruits of God’s promises. Name a time that you followed worldly advice. What was the consequence? Talk about a time where you followed God despite strong opposition. What happened?

- What was God’s punishment to the people, because of their lack of faith? Do you think God’s punishment was too harsh?

- What are some of the punishments or judgments people face today because of an unwillingness to stand strong for God?

- How can you live more boldly for God? Name one way that you want to trust God more in your life.

Living Faith

Set up two obstacle courses in your living room, backyard or a park. Be creative in using items around your home. Make one course long and difficult. Keep the other course rather simple and short. Ideas include: doing a hula hoop 10 times, putting your forehead on a bat and spinning around 10 times, jumping rope, running around a trash can, crab walking, climbing over the couch or fence, crawling on your hands and knees, skipping, etc. Once the courses are set up, bring a Bible and ask the first racer a question based on this week’s reading from The Story.

Sample: Who buried Moses in Moab when he died? Answer: God.

Where did the Israelites want to go, instead of going into the Promised Land? Answer: Egypt.

God made water pour out of what object? Answer: A rock.

If the racer gets a question correct, allow them to race the short course. If he misses the question, have him run around the longer course. Let each family member try to answer a question and complete a course. Try to make the questions age appropriate using the chapters mentioned in the above “Bible Basis.”

When everybody’s finished, ask:

- Which course was faster to complete? (the short one)

- What allowed you to run that course? (Knowing God’s Word)

- In what ways do these obstacle courses compare to the Israelites in the desert? (God has a more direct plan for your life, but allows for you to choose. Sometimes those choices lead to a harder path and punishment. Knowing God’s plan and following it makes life better and results in fewer roadblocks.)

- Why is doing something God’s way the first time important?

Extra Mile

Do trust falls with your family (just make sure your children are big enough to catch you). Have one person stand facing away and with their arms crossed in front of them. Instruct them to close their eyes, remain stiff and fall backwards. Have another family member or two “catch” that person before they hit the ground. Take turns falling backwards and catching each other. Ask:

- What was the scariest part?

- Was it hard to trust that you’d be safe when you fell backward? Why?

- Why is it hard sometimes to trust God and His Word?

- Can you always trust your family to be there for you?

- Can you always trust God to be there for you?

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The Story Chapter 5 - Week Beginning 3 October

Chapter 5 - New Rules

Timeless Truth: Following God’s laws results in righteousness.

Bible Basis: Exodus 19-25:22

Key Verse: “[God's people] answered with one voice. They said, 'We will do everything the Lord has told us to do' " (Exodus 24:3).

Resource: The Story: Teen Edition, The Story for Kids/Children/Little Ones: Chapter 5

Parent Tips:

Use the Table Talk questions to start a discussion around the dinner table during the week. The Living Faith activity is designed to help your family discern what a lie is and always strive to tell the truth. The Extra Mile looks a current teen ethics trends and encourages your kids to be different. Plus, a fun game will help your family memorize the 10 Commandments.

Get the Point:

Preschool: God gave us rules so that we can know him. I can know God by learning his laws.

Elementary: God gave us rules so we can know him. I can know God by learning his laws.

Middle School: Following man’s ideas leads to selfishness and death. Following God’s laws leads to life.

High School: The 10 Commandments allow us to have true community with the one true God, instead of following our disobedient tendencies.

Table Talk

Preschool/Elementary

- Why did God’s people need rules?

- Those rules are pretty old now. Do they still apply today? Why?

- Which one of the 10 Commandments is the hardest for you to follow?

- What are some other important rules that the 10 Commandments don’t cover?

Middle/High School

- What do you think is the most important of the 10 Commandments? Why?

- When Jesus was asked that same question, what did He say? (Read Matthew 22:36-40) Why did He answer this way? Do you agree?

- The third commandment talks about not misusing God’s name. Does that apply to words such as “Gosh”, “Geez” and “OMG”?

- What do the 10 Commandments show us about God’s character? (He’s a jealous God; He cares about life; He wants us to look to Him for our needs.)

Living Faith

Play the “Two Truths and a Lie” game as a family. In this game, each family member has to think up two real things and one falsehood to say out loud. Then everybody guesses which thing is the lie. Try to make the lie sound believable. Parents will have an easier time stumping their children, but be aware about what you reveal about yourself. Also, try to have the true statements sound outrageous, then you can share the story behind your “truth.” (Example: “I never had detention in high school; I once hit a golf ball and broke a car’s windshield; I made my little brother drink pickle juice.” In this case, if the lie was about detention, then the truths could lead to interesting stories.

Ask:

- What was the hardest part about this game?

- Did you learn anything new about your family?

- Was it easy to disguise a lie in the truth?

- How come it’s easy for little lies to slip out in everyday life?

- What are some ways that we can always strive to be truthful?

Extra Mile

Use these ideas to drive home the importance of the 10 Commandments.

1. In the Cards—get a deck of cards and remove all the face cards (jacks, queens, kings and jokers). Shuffle the deck. Bring out a Bible and review the 10 Commandments in order. For younger children, you can paraphrase the Commandments like this: 1. God is the one true God; 2. Do not worship anyone or anything but God; 3. Do not misuse God's name; 4. Rest one day a week; 5. Respect your father and mother. 6. Do not kill; 7. Husbands and wives should keep their promises to each other; 8. Do not steal; 9. Do not lie; 10. Do not be jealous of others.

Put the deck on the table. Have the youngest family member start by drawing a card and trying to say the corresponding commandment (example: 8=Do not steal). If the person says the correct commandment, he gets to keep the card. If it’s incorrect, the card is put face up next to the deck. Go through the entire deck of cards. The person who ends up with the most cards gets a prize, such as being able to choose a special dessert the following night.

2. Teen Scene—Look up “The Ethics of American Youth—2008 summary” online. Based on a random survey of 30,000 high school students, this study found that 35 percent of boys and 26 percent of girls stole from a store in the past year. Twenty-three percent stole from a parent or relative, and 20 percent stole from a friend. Lying was an even bigger issue. Eighty-three percent admitted to lying to a parent about something significant. Cheating is also a problem that appears to be getting worse in that 64 percent of students cheated on a test in the last year. High schoolers couldn’t even be totally honest on this anonymous survey—26 percent said they lied on one or two questions.

Ask:

- Do these numbers on lying, cheating and stealing seem about right in your school and among your friends? Would you say the problem is larger?

- Why do you think so many students lie, cheat or steal?

- Have you ever cheated on a test or been tempted to cheat?

- Is cheating the same thing as lying? Why or why not?

- What’s one way that teenagers could be encouraged to lie, cheat and steal less?

- Can you think of the underlying cause of this behavior? (Selfishness, fear of getting bad grades, etc.)

- What can we do as parents to help you not lie, cheat or steal?

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Ideas to get under-5s chatting to God

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Intergenerational Worship – ideas for everyone to be able to share their gifts with the church

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Better questions than “How was school today?” (Big Life Journal)

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The Story Chapter 4 - Week Beginning 5 September

Chapter 4 - Out of Egypt

Timeless Truth: God is the ultimate Deliverer.

Bible Basis: Exodus 1—16:15

Key Verse: Moses answered the people. He said, “Don't be afraid. Stand firm. You will see how the Lord will save you today” (Exodus 14:13, nirv).

Resource: The Story: Teen Edition, The Story for Kids/Children/Little Ones: Chapter 4

Parent Tips:

Use the Table Talk questions to start a discussion around the dinner table during the week. The Living Faith activity is designed to help your family look to God during hard times and follow Him. The Extra Mile idea will help your family relate to the Israelites and benefit your church.

Get the Point:

Preschool: God sent Moses to bring his people out of Egypt. God will always help his people—including me.

Elementary: God watched over Moses and his people. God watches over me, too.

Middle School: God is the God over all gods. He sees and hears everything. He can overcome any power on earth to help me.

High School: Jesus is the new Passover sacrifice.

Table Talk

Preschool/Elementary

Say: God provided for Moses through his entire life, and He provides for our family today. Share a story of God’s provision in your life and then ask

• How did God care for Moses when he was a baby? (Pharaoh’s daughter finding him in Nile River; being raised by his own mother as an infant; growing up in the palace)

• How did God provide for Moses when he was asking Pharaoh to let the Israelite people go? (He protected Moses and gave him his brother Aaron to speak.)

• How did God provide for the Israelites when they left Egypt? (Guiding them with a pillar of fire or cloud; parting the Red Sea; manna in the morning.)

• How does God provide for you?

Middle/High School

Say: Pharaoh was very stubborn and hardened his heart against God. Share a story where God was working in your life or trying to get your attention, but you didn’t see it until later. Ask

• Do you know a friend, teacher or relative who’s hardened their heart against God and refuses to see Him?

• Why do you think people stubbornly refuse to see God when He makes himself known in creation and everyday circumstances?

• What can you do to open people’s eyes to the truth about God? (Share the good news about Jesus with them; pray for them; be their friend.)

• If somebody totally refuses to acknowledge God, what should you do? (Pray that the Holy Spirit softens their heart; continue to show them God’s love.)

Living Faith

Grab a flashlight and bring your family to a dark room or into the basement. This activity can also be done outside on a dark night. Explain that according to the Bible, God led the Israelites at night with a pillar of fire (Exodus 13:21). By following the pillar of fire at night and the pillar of cloud during the day, God’s people always knew exactly where to go. Tell your family that you’re going to play a game of “Reverse Hide and Seek.” Instead of one person counting and everybody hiding, the person holding the flashlight will hide and everybody else will count. Have a parent hide first. After everybody counts to 20, let them search for the person hiding. Once that person is found, let him hide again. This time after everybody has counted, wait a couple minutes and then turn on the flashlight before anybody finds you. With the flashlight on, allow every family member to get to you. Let other family members take turns hiding.

When you’re finished, ask:

• Were you ever scared being stuck in the dark and not knowing where to go?

• Was it easier to find the hidden person when the flashlight was on or off?

• How does God shine His “flashlight” today, so it’s easier for us to follow Him? (He gave us the Bible; instruction from parents; youth leaders at church.)

• How does God’s light deliver us and keep us safe?

• God’s “flashlight” is on all the time. How does it make you feel to know you can go to Him whenever you’re in need?

• The Bible says, “You are in the light because of what the Lord has done. Live like children of the light” (Ephesians 5:8). What are some ways we can live as children of the light?

Extra Mile

On a Sunday night (or early on a Monday morning if you wake up before your kids), tell your family that you’re going to eat breakfast like the Israelites did when they escaped Egypt. The Bible says that thin flakes of bread appeared on the ground every morning (Exodus 15:15-16). The Israelites would gather up enough for their family and eat it throughout the day. The next morning a whole new crop of manna, which comes from the Hebrew words “What is it?” would be waiting for them to eat. Instead of manna, explain that your family will eat oatmeal every morning. Calculate the cost savings of eating oatmeal instead of cereal, doughnuts or eggs (whatever is your family’s normal breakfast food) and have your children donate that money to the church the following Sunday to do God’s work.

At some point during the week, ask your family what the Israelites must’ve felt like after eating manna every day for years.

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The Story Chapter 3 - Week Beginning 29 August

Chapter 3 - Joseph, From Slave to Deputy Pharaoh

Bible Basis: Genesis 37–47:11

Key Verse: Joseph said to them, "Don't be afraid. … You planned to harm me. But God planned it for good.” —Genesis 50:19–20, nirv

Resource: The Story: Teen Edition, The Story for Kids/Children/Little Ones: Chapter 3

Parent Tips:

Use the Table Talk questions to start a discussion around the dinner table during the week. The Living Faith activity is designed to help your family discuss the pitfalls of favoritism. The Extra Mile idea will get your family into your neighborhood as you meet the needs of hungry people in your community.

Get the Point:

Preschool: God took care of Joseph. God also takes care of me.

Elementary: God worked things out for Joseph’s good. God knows what’s good for me.

Middle School: Through the difficult times in life, God is with me and has an ultimate purpose for my life.

High School: Joseph’s life shows that good decisions don’t always result in positive earthly consequences. Following God is it’s own reward—but sometimes these rewards are limited to spiritual rewards.

Table Talk

Preschool/Elementary

• Can anybody remember a funny or weird dream you’ve had recently? (If nobody remembers one, share one of your own to get the conversation started.)

• Do you think that dream has any chance of coming true? Would you like it to come true?

• What do you think is the difference between your dreams and Joseph’s dreams?

• What are your hopes and dreams for your life? (Let children share and then tell them some of your hopes: that they’ll always follow God; that you’ll always have a strong relationship and love them; that they’ll use their talents to serve God.)

Middle/High School

• Has anybody told lies about you and gotten you in trouble, like Potiphar’s wife did to Joseph?

• What did it feel like? Did you do anything to get even?

• Has anybody made promises to you and then not followed through, like the drink-tester did to Joseph?

• How did that make you feel?

• What can you learn from Joseph about patience and continuing to believe in God’s plan during difficult times?

Living Faith

Instruct each family member to bring his or her favorite possession to the living room. It must be only one thing, such as a toy, golf club, stuffed animal, photo, Wii gaming system or car (of course, this would require a trip outside). Once everybody has chosen something, start with the youngest family member and have her explain why that item is her favorite. Continue around the room until each person gets to share about his possession.

After everybody is finished explain that it’s natural to have a favorite thing. Some items just fit your personality and specific tastes better than others. Some things have more sentimental value and mean more to you. But when it comes to families, favoritism can cause some problems.

Ask:

• How did it make Joseph’s brothers feel that Jacob “loved Joseph more than any of his other sons” (Genesis 37:3)?

• Were Joseph’s brothers justified in selling him into slavery?

• Who was more at fault—Jacob or Joseph’s brothers—for what happened to Joseph?

• If Jacob would’ve acted differently, do you think Joseph’s life would’ve been different?

• Have you ever been in a group or team where somebody else was the favorite?

• Have you ever been treated as the favorite? How did that make you feel?

At the end, pray for God to give your family the wisdom and ability to love each other fully and unconditionally without showing favoritism.

Extra Mile

God gave Joseph wisdom to prepare for the coming famine. Through God’s provision, people were saved when there was no food. Take an evening as a family to go door-to-door in your neighborhood to gather nonperishable food for a community or church food bank. Have your children explain to the neighbors exactly where the food will go and who it will benefit. Make sure to visit the houses of people you don’t know. Bring a wagon or shopping bags to collect food donations. After delivering the items to the food bank, write a thank-you note to the neighbors that contributed and revisit those homes to let them know the results of your family food drive.

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The Story Chapter 2 - Week Beginning 22 August

Chapter 2 - God Builds a Nation

Parent Tips:

Use the Table Talk questions to start a discussion around the dinner table during the week. The Living Faith activity is designed to help your child understand the importance of listening to God’s voice even when he can’t see the next step. The Extra Mile idea will help you drive home the concept of authentic faith.

Get the Point:

Preschool: Abraham trusted and obeyed God. I can trust and obey him, too.

Elementary: Abraham trusted God and obeyed. I can trust God too.

Middle School/High School: God often encourages movement to follow His will. We have to be willing to make sacrifices to follow God.

Table Talk

Preschool/Elementary

• How do you see God working in your life? (Could be finding something that was lost, feeling better after being sick, answered prayer.)

• What are some of the ways God worked in Abraham’s life? (Giving him land, children, etc.)

• Would you have had the faith Abraham displayed by moving to a place you knew nothing about?

• Why is it so hard to move or adjust to new things? What does God do to help you feel better when things change? (Give you new friends, love of a family, etc.)

Middle/High School

• According to Genesis 18:12, Sarah laughed when she overheard that she would have a baby, because she was so old. What would you do if you believed God was leading you to do something and people laughed?

• Have you ever read something in the Bible and thought, That’s impossible! Is anything impossible for God?

• How does our faith play a role in God’s “impossible” plans for our life?

• After Abraham passed God’s test, did God give Abraham “descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand” (Genesis 22:17) right away?

• What can you learn from Abraham about waiting for God’s plan to come true?

• Why is it so hard to wait?

Living Faith

Gather your family outside or in the living room. For this activity you’ll need something to mark boundaries and items to set up an obstacle course. You can use pillows, empty 2-liter plastic bottles, stuffed animals, baseball bats, etc. Break family members into pairs. If there’s an odd number, have one person rotate in. Explain that one member from each team will stand on one side of the obstacle course wearing a bandana so he can’t see anything. The other team members will stand on the other side and call out verbal directions to guide her partner. Only verbal directions, such as “Two small steps forward,” “One step left” or “Lift your foot really high and take a big step” are allowed. All teams go through the obstacle course at the same time, so it can sound pretty chaotic. If the blindfolded person steps on an obstacle, knocks one down (you can lean two bats together to create a teepee) or goes outside the boundary, then he has to be guided back to the beginning and start again. Take turns being blindfolded and giving directions, and always rearrange the obstacle course once a person has made it through.

When you decide to stop playing, ask these questions:

• What was the hardest part about being blindfolded? (Couldn’t see; hard to hear directions from teammate because of all the noise.) Explain that the blindfolded person had to totally trust the directions to stay safe and make it to the destination.

• Do you think Abraham may have felt the same way when God called him to go to Canaan?

• Is it harder to obey when you can see the destination or when you’re walking blind?

• How does faith help you trust God in your life, even when you can’t see the next step?

• What was the hardest part of giving directions? (Had to shout; had to put yourself in other person’s shoes to guide left or right.)

• Does God ever mess up in the directions He gives us?

• Because we can always trust God, what should we do when we hear His leading?

Extra Mile

For added emphasis about living out a real faith, bring your family around a computer and do a search for “Stained Glass Masquerade video.” You can also search for the song's lyrics if you want to read along.

After watching the video, ask:

• What do you think the song means by “happy plastic people”?

• According to the song, is it OK to fail?

• How should the church treat people who fail?

Explain that the Bible is filled with people who fail and didn’t have the faith to fully trust God. But God forgives and gives us a second chance. He doesn’t want us to be plastic and pretend everything’s OK when it isn’t. We need to be real with God and each other. When we have faith in God, His love can help us live authentically as the person He’s created us to be.

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The Story Launch and Introduction - week beginning 8 August

The Story - Launch and Introduction

The Bible contains an Upper Story and a Lower Story. The Upper Story tells the big picture, the grand narrative of God seeking relationship with mankind as it unfolds throughout history. The Lower Story contains the details of particular people, and the episodes we’ve become familiar with: Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, the flood, etc. This Upper Story is really a framework around which we approach and apply any one part of the Bible. It unifies God’s whole message to us and helps guide us through the hard times in life by doing two things:

a) reminding us of God’s eternal, long-range plan and,

b) putting our experiences into a divine context formed by a perfect Creator.

For example, without the “Upper Story”, a lost job could be seen as an event without hope. But put into the context of the larger chronicle of our lives, and God’s perfect design, that lost job can be seen in a very different light, perhaps as an opportunity for God to reveal something better. So, by putting all we read into the larger picture, we can make modern-day application from the Bible that takes into account the grand, mysterious ways of God, and guards us from misapplications that can result from an isolated “what this verse says to me” approach. In other words, the Upper Story creates the context for the Lower Story.

At Emmanuel, we are using The Story to help everyone gain a better understanding of the big picture of the Bible and to better understand God’s redemptive plan for us today. As we journey together through The Story we will take note of both the temporal events and characters (Lower Story), as well as the eternal purpose of God: to restore and build a relationship with His creation.

We invite you to join us as we dig in and explore The Story.

If you would like to join an explore group, contact Nathan Robertson, or one of the group leaders listed in this week's newsletter.

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