Resurrection Cookies – A Great Easter object lesson

Have you ever tried making Resurrection cookies? They make a fun project for your children’s class or even a wonderful devotional for a women’s meeting.

Here is the basic recipe with  the accompanying scriptures:

About 15 minutes before you begin, preheat the oven to 300 degrees to give it time to heat properly.

Place 1 cup of pecans in a baggie and crush them with a wooden spoon  then set aside – Jesus was beaten by the soldiers in the early hours of his crucifixion ordeal. John 19:1-3.

In a small mixing bowl, place 1 teaspoon of vinegar – Jesus was offered vinegar to drink on the cross when he said he was thirsty. John 19:28-30.

Add 3 egg whites to the vinegar. Eggs are used in the Seder feast at Passover to represent life.  Jesus gave his life for us. John 10:10-11.

Add a pinch of salt to represent the salty tears of grief shed when Jesus died, Luke 23:27.

Add 1 cup of sugar to the bowl and begin mixing on high speed for 12-15 minutes or until soft peaks form like a meringue. In spite of the sadness, Jesus death is sweet because it shows His love for us.  Psalm 34:8 and John 3:16.

The mixture will be light and fluffy white, similar to melted marshmallows. The white color in the Gospel story shows the purity of Jesus and how He washes our sinful hearts white as snow. Isaiah 1:18 and John 3: 1-3

We are now ready to make Jesus’ tomb. Carefully fold the crushed nuts into the fluffy sugar mixture. Drop by teaspoonful onto a cookie sheet which has been covered with waxed or parchment paper. The mounds will look like little white-washed tombs.  Matthew 27: 57-60.

Place the cookie sheet in the oven, shut the door and turn the oven off. The cookies must dry in the oven all night. If you are doing this with children, you may want to give them each a piece of tape to “seal” the oven door shut, just as the tomb was sealed by the Roman officials. Then send them to bed.  Matthew 27:65-66.

The next morning, take the cookies out of the oven. They will be firm, but fragile. Carefully remove them from the waxed paper and allow each child to have one.  They will notice that the cookies are firm on the outside and may have a cracked surface, but they are hollow inside! Jesus rose from the grave, leaving behind an empty tomb. Matthew 28:1-9.100_0290

Although this recipe has been around for years, the original author is not known. I found it while working on a devotional for our local Christian Women’s Prayer Connection and presented it as a witnessing tool for the ladies to use with their children, grandchildren, friends and neighbors. I suggested making a batch and wrapping them with the Easter story narrative to give out to  everyone.

Certainly, if you are making them as an object lesson in church you will want to go through all the steps and have a second batch already pre-made  so the children can see and taste the finished cookie.

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The heart of the matter

Valentine’s Day has come and gone, but hopefully you haven’t gotten rid of all the trappings just yet…

One of my favorite gifts on Valentine’s Day is my box of chocolates. Yum – I love the chocolate, BUT… the box is what I really want. I love those little heart shaped boxes because they are good for so many great things like object lessons.  So after you eat the candy, SAVE THE BOX!

One year I covered my box with all sorts of ribbon trim, creating this darling heart-shaped box. I happened to have a lot of the lace and ribbon trims  that I purchased from a ribbon outlet store so it only cost pennies to make.

What a great object lesson it made as I showed the kids how we think we’re okay on the outside, but we really have sin in our hearts. I invited them to each take a little baggie of dirt out of the box when I opened it up. You can also do the reverse of that idea by roughing up the outside of the box and then showing them what a difference it makes when Jesus comes into our hearts – the inside is white and clean.

I also used it for a devotional talk  about how God loves us  by filling it with Hershey kisses. Each kiss had a scripture attached to it with words of Love from the Lord. As it was passed around the room, each lady took one kiss and read the verse, sharing how that verse was meaningful to her. Oh taste and see that the Lord is good!

How about using the heart box as a prayer reminder. Have each person write down a person they want to pray for and place the name in the box. Let them know that these people are now close to God’s heart as we remember them in prayer.

I’m sure you can come up with some great ideas to use your heart boxes too! E-mail me and let me know what you do with your boxes. I’d love to hear your ideas.

Hmmm – now how can I use that neat Christmas tree candy box I got last year…..

Looking Forward to a successful New Year

There’s something special – almost magical – about a new beginning in a new year.”This year, I’m going to do it!” We say to ourselves as we make our resolutions for the New Year. . But our good intentions are quickly followed by, “Oh well, maybe next year,” as we throw up our hands in surrender when we fail.

To illustrate this concept to my children’s church group, i asked one of the younger boys to stand in front of the group. Giving him two buttons, I instructed him to toss the buttons into a cereal bowl about 3 feet away on the floor.

He almost made it with the first button, bouncing it off the bowl. The second one missed completely.

Then I explained to the children that when we make resolutions or promises to ourselves to change our lifestyles, we often have difficulty keeping those promises. We miss the mark far more often than we hit it.

But with the Lord’s help, we can be successful in making changes in our lives. He wants us to change and to grow. Having goals  to reach those changes is important along with trusting Him for the help we need to achieve those goals as we see in Philippians 3:12-14.

The Bible has much to say about “newness” and “renewing” our lives – a great start to develop our goals for the New Year..

Christ gives us new life – 2 Corinthians 5:17

He renews our spirits – Psalm 51:10-12

He renews our strength – Isaiah 40:31

Christ renews our minds – Romans 12:2

With His “renewing” power, He can help us to set realistic goals for life-changes and He can give us the motivation and help to keep working toward those changes.

To drive that home, I gave each child a button and asked them to think of a change (or resolution) they wanted to make in the next year. Then we prayed for the “renewing power” of Christ to help them achieve those changes. As each one spoke their promise out loud, they dropped their button in the bowl.

As expected some of the buttons bounced out, allowing me to remind them that it is Jesus’s power that helps them pick up their button and keep trying as they work toward changing their lives.

Of course there’s always a joker in the bunch as one young boy promised to “hit his brother every day” – one he would have no trouble keeping! Thankfully he did change it to a promise to clean his room. LOL!

What do you want to see changed in your life this year? Rely on the renewing power of Christ to help you achieve it!

How To Hook Your Children’s Church Class

“What do a strawberry and a tomato have in common?” I held up a juicy red strawberry and a ripe red tomato for my class to see.

“They’re both red. ” “They both have seeds.” “They both have green stems.”

“Yes, they have all those things in common. But you haven’t guessed the one thing I’m thinking about.” I love to lead them on! They get all excited and sit there on the edge of their seats, waiting to find out what’s on my mind.

I grinned,  held the fruits up high and squeezed them both as hard as I could. Seeds spurted from the tomato all over the podium and the children in front of me. Juice dribbled down my arm. Strawberry juice stained my hand. “They both squish!” I  yelled, laughing at them as the girls screamed, “Eeeeewwww!” The boys sat there grinning, “All right!”

From that moment, the class was hooked and listened to the rest of the story as we discussed the meaning of the last two fruit of the spirit –  gentleness and self-control.

It’s a little trick I learned from being a writer. You have one or two sentences to hook your readers before they will turn the page or move on to another article or blog. A catchy title and great hook will usually cause them to read on for a few more paragraphs until they can begin to see what’s in the article for them.

It’s the same way with the children’s church class. They’re so used to the challenge of fast paced video games with flashing scenes on the screen or high adventure of kid’s TV programming. It’s almost impossible to  catch their attention to make them listen to a story  (especially when told without props or illustrations) on a Sunday morning in Children’s church.

So how can you draw them in to the lesson? 

1. Use Object lessons with  pizzazz,  a science experiment, a magic trick –  an opening illustration with props which will lead into your story. One of my favorites is the bottle rocket made with an empty pop bottle, baking soda, apple cider vinegar and a balloon.  If you put several tablespoons of vinegar in the balloon and  some baking soda in the pop bottle, it will keep them separate until you stretch the lip of the balloon over the opening of the pop bottle. Then as the vinegar drains out of the balloon into the bottle, it will mix with the baking soda blow up the balloon and launch it  into the air. I’ve used this to illustrate the dynamic power of the Holy Spirit in the believer’s life.

2. Do something shocking as you start your lesson. Today’s squashed tomato and strawberry  fit that category. They weren’t expecting me to do that so it took them completely by surprise and was enough to hold their attention to see what I was going to do next.

3. Start your lesson with a question and draw them into the lesson with the discussion. This may not be as exciting as the first two “hooks” but can be effective if you promise them an answer to the question later in the lesson. Trivia type questions work well. It can also be made into a contest – whoever is paying attention in the story and hears the answer first; or perhaps allow a few guesses and announce the answer at the end.

4. Lead into your lesson with drama, a video or puppets. Many of the prepared curriculums include a DVD with a drama which can be shown on a large screen s or short skits for the children or puppets to lead into the story. This is good if you can afford those fancy  curriculums, but if not, you might find a video clip on YouTube or God Tube. You might use some of the teens from your church to present a short puppet skit – but make sure they practice ahead of time or it will flop, causing you to lose your class and not hook them!

These are a few suggestions of how to add a hook to your lessons – if you’ve found a great hook, I’d love to hear from you!

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