The Lord my Rock

Ancient fortress

Ancient fortress

David’s Rock, Fortress, and Deliverer

Scripture reference: Psalm 18

Can you tell me what this is? [a fort] Yes, a fort – very old, but still a very strong fort.

Ever since Noah and his family spread over the earth, people in all parts of the world have built forts.

They would build a wall out of the strongest thing they could find – logs, or big stones, or bricks, or concrete. Some of the walls were as high as the ceilings of this church – or even higher! – and lots of times the walls were so thick and so wide that you could build a house right on top of the wall – like Rahab’s house on the wall of the city of Jericho!

Those walls had to be very, very strong – because the walls stood around the houses and the streets where the people lived; they kept the people safe from all kinds of awful things: wild animals, grass fires, and especially from the attacks of enemy warriors who wanted to hurt them and steal their animals and their food, even their children. The big, heavy gates in the walls were shut and locked at night, and whenever there was trouble; and if you happened to be outside the gate, perhaps hunting on the land, you always ran as fast as you could to get inside.

The city inside the walls of the fort had everything the people needed to live and be happy – there was water to drink and food to eat. The people felt safe. They were protected; they could sing and play and go about their daily work and not be afraid. And even when they knew there was danger on the other side, they could look up at the big strong walls around their city and be thankful.

Now King David was a very powerful king with many soldiers and many horses. He knew all about walls and forts and warriors. He knew how hard enemy warriors would try to get through the walls of a city to kill and steal from the people inside.

And so that’s why King David made a song to God about forts. He called God his fortress – God was the place where he could be safe, the place where he always go and stop being afraid, no matter what happened. The time a bear tried to steal a baby lamb from his flock; the time the Anakite giant Goliath came tramping down into the valley; the time King Saul threw a spear straight at his head; and all the times his enemies had chased him through the land to kill him, God had taken care of him and made him strong. And even when he let Satan get into his heart and he forgot God – when he took Uriah’s beautiful Bethsheba; and when he tried to kill selfish Nabal after he and his men had sheared all those sheep for him, God loved David even then, and pulled him away from Satan, and made him strong again.

And that’s why David said, “The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my deliverer,” and he loved God with all his heart.


Listen to David’s Song of Prayer by Clint Brown performing at the Judah Music Conference.

Do not be anxious

God, I sure wish you were here …

Scripture reference: Philippians 4:6-7


As a mother stills her child…

Today I’m going to tell you about a little girl. Josie was her middle name. Now Josie was a worrier. She worried about all kinds of things: if her shoes were on the right feet; if she was going to have a birthday party; if she could find her way home after school; she sometimes even worried if her big sister had divided up the cookies at the tea party so it would be fair!

BUT, Josie’s biggest worry was storms at bedtime.

If she was brushing her teeth and putting on her pj’s to get ready for bed, and the sky was cloudy and angry-looking, Josie would zip over to the window, toothbrush still in her mouth, to see what the sky was doing. And into her stomach came something that went flip-flop with every thunder-banger.

Josie would quick, quick, dive into her bed and say her prayers with one ear listening to the thunder and rain, and with her eyes squeezed tight. Then she’d pull up the bedsheets as far they would go, and she’d crawl into her bed as far as she could go! And with every flash of lightning flip-flop went her stomach! She couldn’t even think about her baby brother who might be anxious, too! Josie would say to herself: “I don’t want to be scared; I don’t want to be scared.”

One stormy summer night Josie brushed her teeth, dived into bed and said her prayers and curled up into an anxious little ball under the covers, while the lightning flashed and the thunder crashed. “I sure wish Mommy were here,” she whispered softly. “Mommy, I want you to be here.”

The thunder crashed. The rain poured down. Then Josie, deep under the covers, felt the bed creak as though …..   she pulled down the bedsheet and peeked into the darkness.

There was Mommy, not saying a word, just sitting quietly at the foot of her bed, keeping company, while lightning fingers poked at the sky.

But – how could Mommy have known? After all, she’d only whispered very softly, “Mommy, I want you to be here.” And Josie’s stomach stopped flip-flopping; and she wrapped her arms around her raggedy bear and went to sleep. And when she woke up the storm was over!

The little girl grew up, and became a woman; and there was a different kind of storm; she became very sick. And when she was so very sick and lying in her bed, anxious about her family and her life; God was there even though she hadn’t called for Him out loud.

And he kept her company during the sickness storm, so that she could go to sleep and wake up to a new day.

Paul, the great Apostle, l knew what he was talking about. Paul had plenty of experience with pain; he knew about the fear that makes us unable to put everything into the care of the Lord, unwilling to accept totally that God is the captain. Indeed, fear robs the joy and meaning of life.

So what then? …. how can we be released from care? Ah, yes, the everlasting promise of peace if we take all to the Lord in prayer. “It no longer storms in my heart, even though all the burdens aren’t all gone.”

In the storms of life: The Lord speaks; the storm at life; the storms of life, of deep anxiety.

As a mother stills her child…

Listen to Stand By Me by David Lennard

You’re Invited!

A Story about a King, a Wedding Dinner, and Yeses and Nos

Scripture reference: Matthew 22:1-14


Excuses, excuses, excuses…!

This is a story about a king, a wedding dinner, and yeses and nos.

Once upon a time there was a king whose beloved son was going to be married. Ahhh …. a wedding! This made the king very happy. “I’ll have a delicious wedding dinner for my son – and invite the rulers of the cities to come and rejoice with me!”

So the king’s kitchen servants bustled about, slaughtering and roasting a whole ox and several especially fat calves, and preparing all kinds of marvellous foods. Fine white coats were hung in the hallway – one for each guest to put on. The king’s messenger servants ran from house to house with invitations for the important rulers of the cities in the kingdom. “Please honour my son; come eat at my table and share in my joy.”

One by one, the servants returned, to tell the king: “My lord, he does not wish to come”; “My lord, he says he has fieldwork to do”; “My lord, he does not want to come”; “My lord, he says he’s too busy!”

What!? not want to come? Did all those important people the king had invited not think it was a special honour to share in the king’s happiness? Didn’t they even appreciate the invitation?

The king was a patient king. Once more, he sent out his servants. “Tell them,” he said, “about the huge dishes full of good food that my servants are preparing, just for them” “Perhaps,” he thought, “they’ll come now.” They didn’t. They didn’t care about the invitation. They weren’t interested in sharing the king’s joy. Some of them even grabbed and killed the messenger servants who had been sent by the king to repeat the invitation.

The king was no longer patient. He was angry. Those murderers!! How dare they first say they didn’t want to come to this very special day, and then kill his faithful servants!! And so the king sent his army to kill the murderers and burn their cities.

But …. There was the king’s feast, delicious and ready to serve…. But TO WHOM? “I am determined to find others who can share in my joy,” said the king, and once more servants were sent out to with the same invitation. BUT not to the privileged and important people. THIS TIME the invitation was for anyone at all – rich and poor, proud  and meek, good and bad.

The white wedding coats still hung in the hallway, ready for the guests, and the king’s table was filled with fine food.

And these guests all came – eagerly, hesitantly, carefully, fearfully, – one by one – into the king’s palace, until at last the hall was full.

“Have we really been invited to sit in the presence of the king? To share in his joy? To eat with him? “ And all those who had come put on one of the fine white coats, ate at the king’s table, and shared in his joy.

This story has been told many, many times since Jesus told it first of all. Jesus, the great Teacher, told this story to the important rulers of the Jews because they thought they could say “no” to Jesus, and they thought it wouldn’t matter.


Listen to two great versions of “Come and Go With Me to My Father’s House”:

And here’s a great little video of the parable presented by Hand to Mouth Puppets.

Say YES!

Letting Go

You Lack One Thing

Scripture reference: Mark 10:13-31

[You will need to have available a set of child’s “water wings”]
The rich young ruler

Jesus responds to the rich young ruler. Illustration: The Bowker Bible.Mortier

Can you tell me what I have in my hand? [Water wings]

What are they for?

When your mom or dad think you’re ready to learn to swim, off you go, maybe to the beach or to a big swimming pool. You wriggle into your swimsuit, and if you have water wings, you slip them on next—and then—a big person shows you how to do all kinds of things that help you get ready for real swimming: blowing bubbles, ducking your head under the water and counting your teacher’s fingers, floating, pretending you’re a jellyfish or a frog, and kicking your legs…

And, for a while, your water wings are so important—so is holding on to your teacher’s hand. Soon, you can do so many things in the water—PERHAPS!—you’re ready to swim!!

But—you won’t know for sure that you’re really ready until you take off your water wings and let go of your teacher’s hand and dive in! You just have to let go!


A rich young man came to see Jesus. He thought he was ready to follow Jesus. He was sure he was ready to follow him. “Teacher,” he said, “I’ve done everything I need to do! I’ve been a good person since I was a boy; I never say bad words, I love my neighbours; I don’t steal; I love my mom and my dad; I never cheat; and I’ve never killed anybody. Now, how do I get into heaven?”

Jesus looked at the young man, and he looked right into his heart. “Are you really ready?” he asked. “Good, sell everything you have and give it to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

The young man looked at Jesus. What? – Give away his money, the most important thing he owned? SELL EVERYTHING? Oh, no! He needed his money; he couldn’t let go of his riches – not yet!! He wasn’t really ready to let go, after all. And so he went away sadly and did not follow Jesus.

Note: in the context of the times, the young ruler had, in fact, done everything that was required of him  (by Sanhedrin law) to enter heaven and achieve eternal life. He felt, somehow, that it wasn’t enough, and felt the need to take another step – but even after Jesus spoke to him, could not release the most important thing in his life. (In his case, it was wealth) to let go completely and follow Jesus. Even the disciples who, too, had been brought up in that culture and tradition were amazed that this good man who had done it all since he was a boy, had not yet “qualified” for eternal reward.

Watch International Media Ministries’ mini-video of  ” The Rich Young Ruler.”

And… a 3.5 minute modern-day look at what could have happened after the rich young ruler left Jesus’ presence.

Face to Face

Belief Beyond Barriers

Scripture reference: Mark 5:25-34

Seeking Jesus for healing

“Just a touch of his robe”

When I was a little girl, the Queen of England came to visit the people of Canada. She travelled from place to place, from city to city in this big land. One day the news came that the Queen planned to visit a beautiful park not far from where my family lived. What a marvellous chance to see her! So off we went, my sisters and I, to catch a glimpse of the Queen of England!  There were so many people in the park, crowding close together, all hoping  to come a little closer to the place where the Queen was going to be. At last, there she was, but so far away!!! She was sitting on a platform higher than our heads, surrounded by important people, all dressed up! A thick rope fence was stretched around the platform where she sat, so that no none could come near. Special guards said over and over: “Please stay back… please stay back…” The Queen was so far away, and so small, I could barely see her smile.

When Jesus was doing his Father’s work on earth, he walked with his helpers from place to place, from city to city in the land of Palestine. And many time, large crowds of people followed. “Jesus is coming to our village! Come… let’s go and listen to him! Hurry!” the people would say to one another. And they’d pack a lunch – if they remembered – and hurry to follow Jesus. The healthy people went to listen, and the sick people went mostly because they knew that Jesus could make them well.

On one of those days, there was a particular woman in the crowd. She was by herself,  just like always; most of her neighbors wouldn’t even visit her because of her sickness. For twelve years the doctors had tried to cure her, but not one could help. BUT… here was this Jesus, and hadn’t he cured the man with the evil spirit? She’d ask Jesus to heal her too!!

Oh dear, what a crowd! Everybody wanted to be first – pushing and shoving …! She’d never be able to talk to Jesus in this mob. But… Jesus could make her well: she was SURE of it! … What if she could come just a little closer, and touch his clothes. That would be enough. Yes…., she would just touch him!

Through the crowd she squirmed… and squeezed… and pushed. There he was! She stretched out her thin arm and touched Jesus’ dusty robe. In that instant she knew that her sickness was gone!

Jesus knew it, too, in that same instant. He stopped. He turned. “Who touched my clothes?” he asked. What a question, thought the disciples. Everybody was touching him, pushing and shoving and calling his name. It could be anyone… But Jesus knew it was someone special.

And the woman knelt at Jesus’ feet and said, “I touched your robe because I believed that you could make me better.” And Jesus said to her, “Because you believed, your sickness is gone. Go home, and be happy and well…”

Maybe we can’t reach out and grab Jesus’ robe to get his attention, but when we really believe, we can reach him with our prayers and that puts us right in front of him, face to face

Listen to the gospel version of ” Touch the Hem of His garment” by Sam Cooke & the Gospel Stirrers.

Denial: The Ultimate Indifference

Peter denies his Lord

Scripture reference: Mark 14:53-54, 66-72

Peter's denial of his Lord

“The Denial of St Peter” c. 1610 Oil on canvas, by Caravaggio

First I’d like you to help sing a song, and then I’m going to tell you about Peter and his light.

Who knows a song that starts with the words “This little light…”? Can you help me sing it?

This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine, (2x)
Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.

Hide it under a bushel, NO! I’m gonna let it shine, (2x)
Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.

Won’t let Satan blow it out, I’m gonna let it shine, (2x)
Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.

It was very dark and it was very late at night in the city of Jerusalem. But no-one was asleep at the house of Caiaphas, the high priest. They were waiting … waiting … There he came, our Jesus, tied up between two soldiers. That’s who they were waiting for – Jesus! “AT LAST,” said the rulers of the Pharisees. “Now we’ve got him! Now we can get rid of him!” And they rubbed their hands together, and they took Jesus upstairs. Then they spit on Jesus and blindfolded Jesus and hit him.

Where were Jesus’ disciples? Didn’t Peter say he would always, always stay with Jesus, no matter what? Maybe they all ran away when the soldiers tied up Jesus in the garden….

But, wait, there was Peter, hiding in the yard. Peter ran away , all right, but he came back because he loved Jesus. Peter followed the solders, all the way to the house of the high priest. Peter could see Jesus upstairs. But Peter was so afraid. He didn’t want anyone to know he was one of Jesus’ helpers! What if they caught him, too, and tied him up just like Jesus, and spit on him, and hit him? Peter was so scared that he hid his love for Jesus, and he kept his love for Jesus a secret. Peter hid his light three times in a row.

There was a fire burning in the yard, and the night was cold, so Peter went to warm his hands by the fire. A servant girl looked at Peter’s face and said,

“Weren’t you with that man Jesus?”

Peter’s heart pounded. He was terrified. “No, no, I don’t know what you’re talking about.” And Peter’s light flickered for the first time.

A little later, another servant girl said, “I’m sure this man is one of Jesus’ disciples.” Again Peter lied. “NO I don’t know him.” And Peter’s light flickered for the second time.

Once more, one of the men looked at Peter’s face and said, “You must be one of Jesus’ disciples. You talk just like one of them. And… didn’t I see you in the garden with him?” That’s when Peter’s face became pale and Peter began to curse and swear again:”I DON”T KNOW what you’re talking about.” And Peter’s light flickered for the third time that night.

Then Peter looked up. He saw Jesus looking at him very sadly, and Peter ran away into the darkness, crying, because he had lied about the Jesus he loved so much.

Listen to Denise Hewitt’s version of “This Little Light of Mine.”

If you’re partial to Odetta’s rendition…

Sold for the Price of a Slave

Judas Betrays Jesus

Scripture reference: Zechariah 11:4-12 Luke 22:1-6


I need a helper today. [Choose a child and ask …. What’s your name?]

Now I need one more helper who doesn’t mind wearing this on their eyes. (Choose a second child and ask … What’s your name?]) Come and sit down here beside me. [Tie blindfold on the second child].

Today we’re going to talk about choosing. And I’ve brought some things along for ______ and _____ to use. Let me show them to you first.

With the first child:

[Hold up items: a banana: big, yellow  and another banana: black, mushy, and rotten]

Now: It’s your turn. Look carefully. Can you choose one that you’d like to share with your family?  [the child will generally choose the appropriate response]  That was a good choice!

[Hold up items again: an orange: big, heavy and another orange, somewhat wrinkled, small]

With the second child:

Now, It’s your turn. [Check to make sure the blindfold is still on, and don’t have the child touch the fruit]

Are you ready to choose one you’d like to share with your family? —– hmmm  —- wait —- this looks hard! How can you choose like this? Oh, oh,  what shall we do? [some child will respond – She/he can’t see!]. O.K. let’s take off the blindfold. Now you can make a good choice, can’t you!

Thank you for helping,  ___ and ___

Jesus had helpers, too. One of them was called Judas. At first Judas loved Jesus and wanted to be near him. That was a good choice.

But then Satan came along—just like a big blindfold—and covered up Judas’ eyes and his heart. And Judas let Satan stay there and didn’t push Satan away.

Soon, Judas stopped loving Jesus. He chose a very evil thing. He went to visit some bad men who wanted to kill Jesus and said “I choose to help you catch Jesus. What will you give me if I help you?” The bad men said, “We will give you some money” and so Judas chose the worst thing of all: he took the money and put it in his pocket – to help them kill Jesus.

Now you may keep your good choices—off you go to church school.

Jesus’ Resurrection

The Wrong Place to Look

Scripture reference: Luke 24:1-12; 24:5,6

tombThe day of Sabbath rest was over in Jerusalem. It was the start of a new week. The rosy sun was just beginning to push the darkness out of the night sky; the birds were fluffing their feathers and chirping their songs.

Mary Magdalene and the other women were up early, too, but they weren’t singing.

There was something they wanted to do for Jesus. On that terrible day at Golgotha they had watched Jesus die on the cross and they had cried and cried. The women had followed when Rabbi Joseph had taken Jesus’ body gently down from the cross and brought it to his own empty cave in the small garden. Rabbi Joseph had wrapped Jesus’ body in a soft white cloth and put him on a bed of sweet-smelling spices. So the women knew where to find the Master they loved so much. Mary Magdalene and her friends wanted to do something for Jesus, so they prepared more spices and sweet-smelling perfumes. They would bring them to the cave and cry together.

Everything was so sad, and so mixed up!

How could Jesus be dead? He’d promised them a kingdom; how could he be king of a kingdom, lying in a cave all wrapped up and covered with spices, with a guard of Roman soldiers standing in front of the big stone?

He’d promised them treasures in heaven; how could he give them anything when those greedy soldiers at the cross had taken away all his clothes?

He’d promised them that he would destroy God’s temple and raise it back up in three days; how could he fix the temple when the curtain had ripped into two pieces and he wasn’t even there to fix it?

He’d promised to set the prisoners free, but how could he? Nobody was even listening to him anymore!

He’d said he was king, but why did the soldiers spit on him and make fun of him, and give him a pretending crown? And why would he let that crook on the cross beside him say those awful things?

And what about that great parade into Jerusalem when the people threw their coats on the ground and made a beautiful carpet for Jesus to ride on, and waved palm branches and shouted: “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!”?

What happened to all the promises? Jesus was dead. All the promises were lost.


But wait …. The most important promise of all – what was it?  “In three days I shall be raised again…” Had they forgotten?

Mary Magdalene and the women didn’t understand. All they could do was cry and go to the garden with the spices they had ready. “How are we going to roll away that big stone?” they worried. “Maybe we’re not strong enough to push it out of the slot….”

There was the cave: the soldiers were gone, and the big stone had been rolled away!!!

The women had forgotten! Into the cool, quiet rock space they tiptoed, carrying their spices, looking for the body of Jesus. There was the soft white cloth; there were the sweet-smelling spices; but where was Jesus?

Then suddenly, two shining angels! “Have you forgotten?” said one angel. “Have you forgotten Jesus’ promise? You’re looking for him in the wrong place: he is not here; he is not dead – he is alive, just as he said he would be! Come, and look!”

And the women came, and they looked.

And then they remembered Jesus’ promise – bigger than their small hearts and their small imaginations: big enough for YOU and for ME!

Jesus is not dead: HE IS RISEN! Hallelujah.

The Great Commission

Inside the Apple  

Scripture reference: John 17:17-21 

1-appleToday I’m going to ask you a very easy question:

Can you tell me what this is? An apple! Just one apple! Simple, isn’t it! A very shiny, a very red apple. It’s looks good and healthy, too, doesn’t it.

Yes, one beautiful red apple…..

Perhaps this one good apple, could be ten good apples, and then 100, and then 1000, even a whole church full, right up to the ceiling!

Now I want you to watch me carefully. [Cut open the apple… ] Look inside – What do you see? Seeds! Little pockets with seeds inside. And seeds can make more apples.

So, if you wanted more good apples like this one,

  • You would take the seeds,
    • Plant them in good earth, and water them, and feed them, and take good care of them
  • Until—one day—there will be apple trees with apples of their own—hundreds and thousands of them! – maybe even a whole church full!

Jesus’ helpers on earth were just like the seeds in this apple.

When it was time for Jesus to go back to his home in heaven, he sent his helpers into the land to do his work. But first he asked his heavenly Father: “Please look after my helpers and take care of them, plant them in good earth, and make them strong while they’re walking through the land teaching about me.”

  • so that more and more people would grow to love Jesus,
  • and someday the whole world can be full of grownups and children who love Jesus and believe in Him.

Jesus comforts his disciples and promises to return

The Promise Peppermints

Scripture reference: John 14:1-4 

[You will need to have available two peppermints]

peppermintsToday I’m going to tell you about Jeremy. Jeremy was three years old, and he was going to nursery school for the first time! He was so excited! He was even wearing a new sweatshirt just for the special day! He gulped his orange juice and hurried through his bowl of cereal. He zipped up his brand new backpack and jumped into the van behind his mom. Off they went. Jeremy’s mother parked the van in the parking lot and unbuckled Jeremy’s seat belt.

In they went. Jeremy’s mother helped him hang up his jacket, on a special hanger just for him. But … Jeremy’s mom wasn’t taking off her jacket. And, what was she saying? “See you later” ?? Jeremy didn’t understand this one bit. And he didn’t like it! “But, Mommy, I want you here. Stay here! I’m scared if you go away and leave me. You never leave me! I don’t want you to go away!” He plopped on the floor, as sad as sad.

Then Jeremy’s mom sat right down on the floor beside Jeremy. She gave him a big hug to make him feel better. Then she said, “Don’t be sad. It won’t be for long. I have work to do, so I have to go away now, but I’ll come back to take you home with me. I promise! And she reached into her pocket, and out came two peppermints. “Jeremy,” she said, “Look. These are for you. Promise peppermints.” She put one peppermint in Jeremy’s hand and said, “I promise.” She put the second peppermint in Jeremy’s other hand and said again, “I promise.” Then she got up, blew Jeremy a kiss with a smile, and off she went, out the door, away from Jeremy.

Jeremy was still a little sad, but he went to the toy corner anyway, holding his two peppermints. He sat down on the rug and watched the other kids. After a while he looked at the promise peppermints in his hand. He popped one into his mouth and whispered, “Mommy promised.” Then he rode around on the toy tractor until he started to feel sad again, and squished down in the toy corner. After a while he looked at the second promise peppermint in his hand. He popped it into his mouth and whispered, “Mommy promised.” Then he made a very big fort out of blocks  —–

Before he could get sad again, there was his mother to take him home.

And when Jeremy got bigger and heard about Jesus going away from his disciples to get ready for heaven, he remembered the promise peppermints and understood Jesus’ promise: “Don’t be sad; I will come back to take you home. I promise.”