Easter Scavenger Hunt


Easter egg hunts were one of my favorite church memories as a child. Plastic eggs filled with chocolate and other treasures dotted the church lawn like they came down with the rain overnight. Hard boiled eggs were dyed by someone’s loving hands and then hid near bushes and trees. Let’s be honest, though, these were the slightly less desirable bounty, left by the big kids for wide eyed preschoolers and toddlers slowed down by wonderment.

Easter egg hunts meant our parents didn’t have to drag us out of bed bleary eyed for Sunrise service. All they had to say was “Happy Easter!” followed by that blessed phrase, “He is Risen!”

We knew what that meant- grace, joy, Easter Breakfast, and you’ve got it- the Egg Hunt.

Stuff like this matters for kids at church.

While the message may not be as overt as the Sunday School lesson or the Children’s Sermon, it does share grace with them in a way that I don’t think our adult brains can comprehend. Eggs-schmeggs, sure, but to a child’s heart this speaks something different –

“I matter in this place.”

“I am seen in the Body of Christ.”

“My presence is not just tolerated, but welcomed and invited here.”

“These people speak my language, and I want to be a part of it.”

This layer of care for our church kids guides hearts to be open. Those little ears (and big ears) hear the message of Christ from your lips and then see the love of the Savior in action. They connect the dots between real life, real truth, real action, real faith and His real Word.

Once I was involved in children’s ministry, as an adult, and then bringing my own kids to church on Easter morning, I found the Great Egg Hunt fun, but lacking. It was special, great for photos and joy-filled church memories, but not quite what I was going for as a teaching moment. There had to be, not a better way, but something different to help direct the kids to the Word in a fun way, with treats, because, you know, Easter. 😉

So, I googled and pinterested the topic to death. I found lots of great ideas and alternatives. Praises to the Lord for creating many ideas, minds, and a zealous Spirit!

I would reference blog posts and idea makers here, but I really scanned about 47 different ideas and decided to create my own.For my own children’s ministry I decided to write my own Easter Scavenger Hunt. I do encourage you to look through Pinterest and search engines for similar blogs and ideas, however, since the origin of the idea for an Easter Scavenger Hunt isn’t mine.

This is an easy and fun alternative to help kids and families connect the treats they receive from your church or family gathering on Easter morning to the Word of Life. Each item in the Hunt is chosen for a specific reason that is linked to a Bible verse, for instance…

Betrayed with a kiss – Hershey kisses
Judas’s payment- silver coins
Romans 5:8 – chocolate cross

And more!

You hide the items for the Hunt around the church or lawn, your house, a park, anywhere, and give families the list of verses to read with the corresponding items.

 

I have attached the PDF of my own Easter Scavenger Hunt to make it easy for you- just print and duplicate!

Easter Scavenger Hunt PDF

If parents are still eating Easter breakfast, ask for volunteers or members of your youth group to help little hands find their treats. I wouldn’t necessarily disclude the youth from this hunt, though. I guarantee those bigger hands are going to want to get in on these treats, and they are an often forgotten age group who like fun and creative ways to learn the Scriptures as well. You could make them work harder to figure out the items by only giving them the verse list. This is especially fun if you’re feeling ornery. You could also give the kids an extra bag of the goodies and tell them to give it to a friend who didn’t get to go to church on Easter morning. You can trim your own hunt to make it smaller, or you could add to it.

Now I want to show up at all your churches and family events to see how you all used the hunt! Please share pictures or stories in the comments section so we can all share in the fun!

Easter joy to you all!

It is by His grace-filled death and resurrection that we are Saved, Redeemed, Set Free, Restored, and Made New. Let’s go share that message with big and little ones everywhere!

Who’s up for an Advent Photo Challenge?!

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I Love My Shepherd and GraftedHeart are teaming up this Advent season to offer you a photo challenge! This is a fun way to express your faith, get into the Word, and be creative this holiday season.

There are several ways you can participate.

First, download the Advent 2016 Devotions, found at the end of this post, or receive them each day in your inbox by subscribing to the blog. (If you are already subscribed, you are good to go!)  The devotion for each day is about 3-5 sentences long. Short and sweet!

Next, post your Advent 2016 Photo Challenge pictures on social media using #Advent2016, #ilovemyshepherd, and #graftedheart. Here’s some examples of photos you might post on any given day.

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a hot beverage or a mug #Advent2016 #ilovemyshepherd #graftedheart
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someone you love spending the holidays with #Advent2016 #ilovemyshepherd #graftedheart
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wrapping paper #Advent2016 #ilovemyshepherd #graftedheart

Participate as much or as little as you can. If you do decide to participate by posting photos for every day of the challenge and use the hashtags above, you will be entered to win our New Year’s Eve Prize Pack! Check it out…

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Do the challenge by yourself, as a couple, as a family, or offer it through your church or group!

More than anything, we want this to be a stress-free activity to enrich your Advent.

We pray this Advent resource helps you to reflect on the heart of the season and the love of Jesus Christ in your lives and families, as you Make Ready for His coming!

Here’s the link! Looking forward to sharing together  –

Free and downloadable Advent Photo Challenge – Make Ready!

Promises to Keep


My children are promise trackers. If you tell them that we “might” go to visit a friend, it’s as good as complete to them. If you suggest there “may be” dessert in the cupboard, you better have checked the status of the Oreo package before throwing haphazard statements around. Children misunderstand the difference between promises and basic conversation. They often believe that something stated is something as sure and certain as the sun rising each day. Adults should always be cautious about making promises they can’t keep, but it’s also an important skill for children to learn that promises are meant for big things, not Oreos; life happens, and forgiveness reigns where there is trust.

God makes promises to us in the book of Isaiah, over and over again. These are not maybe-there-will-be-Oreo promises. These are big promises.

The virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call His name Immanuel… 

But He was pierced for our transgressions…

With righteousness He shall judge the poor…

My servant shall be exalted… 

God tells us clearly in Isaiah that not one thing is missing, not one promise is left out or abandon.

Not one promise is broken.

Hear it for yourself by reading Isaiah 34:14-16 –

And wild animals shall meet with hyenas;
    the wild goat shall cry to his fellow;
indeed, there the night bird settles
    and finds for herself a resting place.

15 There the owl nests and lays
    and hatches and gathers her young in her shadow;
indeed, there the hawks are gathered,
    each one with her mate.
16 Seek and read from the book of the Lord:
    Not one of these shall be missing;
    none shall be without her mate.
For the mouth of the Lord has commanded,
    and his Spirit has gathered them.

While goats and fellows, owls and nests may seem obscure, they couple up. This is how God’s promises work. Verse 16 above brings the obscurity together, reminding us that as we seek and read, our eyes are opened and every promise meets its rightful destination – fulfillment in Christ Jesus.

God does indeed keep His promises…because He gathers.

He gathers prophecies up in His Word and fulfills them all like puzzle pieces clicking together over the course of time. This match here, that match there. We are given the privilege of studying them, finding a promise, seeking its fulfillment in the Word and lifting the pieces up in praise to His name.

We may as parents misspeak. Life may happen and promises might fall by the wayside, but God is completely in control. He reigns over the universe, so life doesn’t get in the way for Him. He is also perfect, so not one promise falls. He is ever-present in all time. He sees the whole of eternity before Him and He plans accordingly.

How often, however, are we like children and try to hold God to promises He never made? How often do we claim He promised worldly treasures, when He really promised just what we need? How often do we rail at Him for our suffering, when He promised to be there with us in it, rather than to give us a life called perfect by our own standards? How often do we demand control in life, when He promised to lead rather than leave us in the white-knuckle life of fear, fighting for control?

God’s message in Isaiah through the gathering of prophecy and fulfillment is this –

He gathers up His promises and holds them tightly for just the proper time. Every Word will be fulfilled. When we can’t see what He’s doing, we lean into His promises that never change.

Not one promise broken. Not one.

Because He gathers.


Exploration:

What kind of plans disappoint children when they are broken? What kind of plans disappoint us, as adults, when they are broken?

How do you differentiate between a plan that is able to be shifted and a promise that can not be broken?

Do you think God differentiates in His word between plans and promises?

What promises of God do you cling to?

Planners and Pencils…I am His Child

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I’m a list maker. I love to-do lists and plotting and planning. I still use a paper planner. I tried the iPhone version and it just never took. I like to see things laid out in ink, nice and clear. Well, pencil. I only write in my planner in pencil because guess what…plans change, right?

As much as I’d like my plans to work out the first time, I would say that 75% of the time, I find myself applying eraser to said planner and going for plan B. Sometimes plan C, sometimes plan D, E, F, G, or Z.

Isaiah has something to say about planning also.

Open your Bibles to Isaiah 30:1-11, or read below.

“Ah, stubborn children,” declares the Lord,
“who carry out a plan, but not mine,
and who make an alliance, but not of my Spirit,
    that they may add sin to sin;
who set out to go down to Egypt,
    without asking for my direction,
to take refuge in the protection of Pharaoh
    and to seek shelter in the shadow of Egypt!
Therefore shall the protection of Pharaoh turn to your shame,
    and the shelter in the shadow of Egypt to your humiliation.
For though his officials are at Zoan
    and his envoys reach Hanes,
everyone comes to shame
    through a people that cannot profit them,
that brings neither help nor profit,
    but shame and disgrace.”

An oracle on the beasts of the Negeb.

Through a land of trouble and anguish,
    from where come the lioness and the lion,
    the adder and the flying fiery serpent,
they carry their riches on the backs of donkeys,
    and their treasures on the humps of camels,
    to a people that cannot profit them.
Egypt’s help is worthless and empty;
    therefore I have called her
    “Rahab who sits still.”

And now, go, write it before them on a tablet
    and inscribe it in a book,
that it may be for the time to come
    as a witness forever.
For they are a rebellious people,
    lying children,
children unwilling to hear
    the instruction of the Lord;
10 who say to the seers, “Do not see,”
    and to the prophets, “Do not prophesy to us what is right;
speak to us smooth things,
    prophesy illusions,
11 leave the way, turn aside from the path,
    let us hear no more about the Holy One of Israel.”

Well, that’s eye opening. How’s that mirror of sin for ya?

I would say that two segments really stick out to me, in light of our study of the word “Child.”

Verse 1 –

“Ah, stubborn children,” declares the Lord,
“who carry out a plan, but not mine,
and who make an alliance, but not of my Spirit,
    that they may add sin to sin;

Plans, yep. How often do I carry out, or more accurately, attempt to carry out plans of my own, rather than the Lord’s. I’m actually in a situation right now, as I type, that makes me want to go one direction, when I know the Lord is calling me to wait on His direction.

Have you ever been in a situation where you avoid hearing God’s Truth because you have a better idea? No, no, it’s just me? Say it isn’t so!

I don’t think it is. God’s Word in Isaiah simply points out the path of original sin. The Old Adam in us wants to plan and plot and follow our own way. In Christ, and only in Christ, can we tell Old Adam to talk to the hand. In our baptisms, Christ Jesus raises us as believers that can do a new thing. We can turn a new direction.

Verse 9 –

For they are a rebellious people,
    lying children,
children unwilling to hear
    the instruction of the Lord;

We are no longer these lying children. We are no longer “children unwilling to hear”.

We are sons.

Look up the following verses and share with me the joy of sonship. (The first is written in to get you started.)

John 1:12-13

But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

Ephesians 1:3-6

Galatians 4:4-5

We are adopted into a better plan.

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How’s that for life changing?

Bring on Your plans, Lord. Erase mine all you want. I give it to you.

 

Exploration:

Are you a planner person? How important is planning to you?

What area of your life could you use more flexibility?

Pray with me.

Oh Lord God, help us to wait on You, to watch for Your plans, to study Your word, to see your direction. Let our ears be ever open to Your instruction, Your voice, Your Truth. In Jesus, always and only, we pray. Amen.

The value of children

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My little Zeke. He’s adorable. When he was about 18 months he went through the developmental stage of find-Mom’s-Bible-and-do-weird-stuff-to-it. You can not fault the kid for thinking that the Word of the Lord is interesting. He ripped up most of Psalm 139 into itty bitty, almost unsalvageable pieces. There is a large hole in verses 22 through the end that I still have been unable to find. He highlighted all of Matthew 19 and some of 20, so he’s not bent on destruction, just discovery. I value my children growing up with Bibles sitting around, so I invested in my first Bible cover, which is faithful to this day.

Children are special, no doubt. In Isaiah, we learn a little more of the value God places on children and why we are called to value then. Even if you translate this passage in the broader sense of children as all of God’s people of any age, you can see why the application to the tiniest child of God is not off.

Please read Isaiah 29:22-24. This is the Gospel at the end of a passage reminding Israel that unfaithfulness hurts.

 Therefore thus says the Lord, who redeemed Abraham, concerning the house of Jacob:

“Jacob shall no more be ashamed,
    no more shall his face grow pale.
23 For when he sees his children,
    the work of my hands, in his midst,
    they will sanctify my name;
they will sanctify the Holy One of Jacob
    and will stand in awe of the God of Israel.
24 And those who go astray in spirit will come to understanding,
    and those who murmur will accept instruction.”

God tells the people that when they look to the future, look past their present circumstances, He has a long term plan. What turns the tide of shame in this passage? God working through children.

Children give us hope.

Their very presence in this world is a message of endurance from an unchanging God. The next generation reminds us that life will continue, despite the heartache and pain, a fresh new day, a new birth, will dawn.

Let’s bullet point some things we can learn as God’s children looking at actual little children.

  • Children cause us to honor God. We praise God for the next generation, we recognize the miracle of life He has created, and we desire some kind of stability and morality for them. It spurs us on to consider and continue in the Faith.
  • Children make us talk about God. In wanting to bring our children, or the children of the world, to a loving God, we talk about the Faith, we grow ourselves, we open our hearts in ways we may not have otherwise. If we don’t bring it up, they have questions and it never dawned on them to keep their mouths closed, particularly on “politically incorrect” topics. Let us help them to feel comfortable enough to keep asking those questions. Let’s spur on the next generation by talking about Him.
  • Children are a mirror of our rebellion. As much as I struggle with each of my children’s rebellious spirits, I acutely feel the need for them to understand the reality of grace and forgiveness in their lives. When I look at my children, I see my own painful rebellion. I go my own way. I have my own ideas, when My Father in Heaven clearly knows best. Thank goodness for the family of God for me to fall against when I need mercy. Thank goodness that I can be that living mercy to my children, even when we both have to endure the consequences for our painful actions.
  • Children mirror trust and faith. Children get it when we don’t. They can smell inauthenticity a mile away, but they also are willing to be all-in despite our weaknesses and flaws. They lean on God in simple prayers and don’t need all the bells and whistles to bring them to meet with the Savior; a conversation, a small craft to hang in their room, simple relationship is enough to keep them coming back to church and learning about God again and again.

Read Isaiah 29:24 again. Write it out if you can. It holds a promise for when we travel our own ways, when our children travel their own paths, away from God.

“And those who go astray in spirit will come to understanding,
    and those who murmur will accept instruction.”

He knows the prodigal. He sees their struggle. He hears the grumbles and the moans, the ranting, and the hiding. He brings us back to Him. The lost are found in Him. (Luke 15)

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Malachi 2:10 reminds us that all God’s children, faithful, unfaithful, believer, unbeliever, infant, adult, male, female, are to be treasured, because of that very title – Child of God.

Have we not all one Father? Has not one God created us? Why then are we faithless to one another, profaning the covenant of our fathers?

Abortion, not ok. Pouring judgment out on our unbelieving neighbor, not ok. Placing less value on the high schooler’s opinion in church, than the middle-aged leader, not ok. Leaving the elderly in loneliness, not ok.

Today, look at a child. Let them know that they are seen. Let them know that their very presences sanctifies the name of the Living God. Embrace that childlike-faith part of yourself. Sing a round of Jesus loves me, pray before bedtime, and thank the Lord for being faithful to each and every generation.

 

Exploration:

What do you remember about your faith walk as a child? What or who spoke God’s love over you as you were growing?

Commit to one way of sharing the faith with the next generation today. It need not be something complicated. Just find one way to share God’s Word and Grace with someone under the age of 18. Share your idea with us!