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December 15, 2013–A Step Forward or Backward?

Contributed by Brian Hiortdahl, Overland, KS


Warm-up Question

What are you hoping for this Christmas?  What are you expecting?  Are your hopes and expectations the same, or are they different?

A Step Forward or Backward?


photo by marco rubino /shutterstock

Last month, a coalition of powerful world nations struck an initial deal with Iran, setting limits on its nuclear program while easing economic sanctions against the country.  Reaction to this breakthrough step has been mixed, with some praising it as a step forward toward stability, transparency, and peace, and others condemning it as a step backward that allows Iran to become more volatile, establishes a worrisome negotiating precedent, and makes the world more dangerous:


Discussion Questions

  • Do you think this historic deal is a step forward or backward?  Why?
  • What do you think Jesus would have to say about this development?
  • Is there a comparable situation in your local community?  Who or what threatens peace and safety in your school or your neighborhood or your church?  What should be done about it, and who needs to talk together to work on a just solution?


Scripture Texts (NRSV) for Sunday, December 15, 2013 (Third Sunday of Advent)

Isaiah 35:1-10

James 5:7-10

Matthew 11:2-11

(Text links are to Oremus Bible Browser. Oremus Bible Browser is not affiliated with or supported by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. You can find the calendar of readings for Year C at Lectionary Readings.)

For lectionary humor and insight, check the weekly comic Agnus Day.


Gospel Reflection

John the Baptist wasn’t sure whether he could trust Jesus or not.  John held high ethical standards of righteousness and high expectations of a purifying Messiah who would clean house, clearly and decisively separating good from evil.  John’s undiplomatic clarity helped land him in prison when he preached against the adulterous shenanigans of the royal family, so he was unable to experience Jesus’ ministry firsthand.  He did get rumors and reports, however, of Jesus’ teaching and healing, which were full of power but not punishment.  John focused on an ax lying at the root of the trees; Jesus preached about sowing seeds.  John warned about a winnowing fork and a consuming fire; Jesus blessed the humble and warmed the heart.  John’s preaching was direct and confronted political power brokers; Jesus told strange stories that invited people without power into mysterious hope.

John sent his students to Jesus, therefore, with a typically direct question: “Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?”  Jesus sent back a typically indirect, what-do-you-think reply:  “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news brought to themAnd blessed is anyone who takes no offense at me.”  He then praised John to the crowds and pointed to a new reality, “the kingdom of heaven,” which would surpass anything John could imagine, even though he was the greatest prophet ever to prepare its way.

John is left to wonder:  Is Jesus a step forward, or a step backward?  Is his bottom up, lift the lowly approach the surprising way that God has chosen to right the world, or is it an exercise in naive futility?  Is he bringing peace or being too soft?

Discussion Questions

  •  Read Matthew 3:1-17 and 4:12-23.  What do the preaching of John and Jesus have in common?  How do they differ?  What does each preacher teach us about God?
  • Would you rather have Jesus or John at the negotiating table with Iran?  Why?
  • How is Jesus portrayed in media and popular culture?  What are our present day expectations of him, and are they realistic?
  • If someone asked you about Jesus, what would you tell them?
  • Traditionally, the season of Advent stresses the second coming of Jesus.  What do you think Jesus will look like when it happens?


Activity Suggestions

  • As a group, make a list of typical holiday expectations.  Do these lead to hope and joy or to disappointment?
  • Write a letter to your senator expressing your opinion about the deal with Iran, grounding your position in your Christian faith.

Closing Prayer

Come, thou long expected Jesus.  Prepare us for the kingdom of heaven, set us free from misguided expectations, and open our eyes to see the surprising gifts of grace you bring to us and to all the world.  Amen.

November 3, 2013–Forgiveness is a Journey

Contributed by David Delaney, Salem, VA


Warm-up Question

What famous person or celebrity would you most like to meet?   Would it be a current music star or movie star or model?   A public leader like the president or the pope?   A sports hero from one of the teams in the World Series or the upcoming football season?  A TV personality?  A character from a reality show?  Or the star of the latest viral video on Youtube?

Whoever that would be, imagine that this person came to your town and decided to have an open air parade where she would just ride down the street and wave to people with no one holding the crowds back;  people could just come up to her and say hello or climb up on the car or anything.  Keep in mind that this is someone who is probably very, very popular, so the crowd is going to be huge. What do you think your chances would be of getting close enough even to say hello, let alone have a conversation?  That is how a lot of people felt when Jesus came riding through Jericho that day on his way up to Jerusalem.  Because of his miracles and teaching, common people were fascinated with him and religious and political authorities distrusted him, so he was someone a lot of people wanted to see.

Let’s make the situation harder:  The morning of the parade where you are going to see your celebrity, you just sprained your ankle and you’re on crutches, so you can’t even walk up to the parade.  You have to watch from a distance.  Don’t forget:  this is someone you *really* admire and would give anything to meet.  Right when the parade is passing and hundreds or even thousands of people are crowded around, your celebrity looks right at you and points and says, “I have to meet *that* person!”  You – along with everyone else – would be stunned.  How did she even know you?

Let’s make the situation even more complicated yet:  Let’s say you’ve done something – at school or in your community – to make everyone despise you, like you won the lottery by cheating or something like that.  No one can prove it, but everyone knows that it’s true, so they basically hate you.  Now, when the celebrity looks at you and calls your name, the crowd is not only stunned, they’re angry and resentful.  This is very much what the scene would have looked and felt like to Zacchaeus when he saw Jesus pass through Jericho.

Forgiveness is a Journey

Many people have not heard of a small but committed movement called “Theshutterstock_157483391edit Forgiveness Project.”  The aim of this movement is to collect and share stories where people have found peace and renewed relationships by forgiving someone who has harmed or deceived them.  In some cases, the harm that had been done was quite significant – murder of a loved one, permanent injury, spousal unfaithfulness, squandering all of a family’s resources, and other things like that.

In August of this year a prominent friend of The Forgiveness Project named Anne Gallagher died suddenly, and her death inspired a lot of renewed sharing about her unique ability to bring about reconciliation through forgiveness.  Anne was from Northern Ireland, where she had started her own organization, “Seeds of Hope,” as a way of helping people who have either been victims of the long and violent conflict in Northern Ireland (what the Irish call “The Troubles”) or have been perpetrators of that violence, especially if they have been imprisoned.  Its primary vehicle for forgiveness and healing is shared story-telling.

Anne Gallagher’s gift was somehow to inspire people to see the humanity in every single person, regardless of what terrible things they might have done.  Yet her death has also allowed her friends and followers to recall the importance she attached to forgiveness when reconciliation was the goal.  People could not just start to get along again or pretend that the past did not matter– they had to acknowledge the harm they had done or the harm that had been done to them, and only then, when faced with another person who did not really deserve to be forgiven, could true forgiveness occur and reconciliation follow.

“Forgiveness … is needed to bring closure to the pain and suffering experienced in Northern Ireland,” Anne said. “You can’t contemplate hope unless you address despair. To heal the wounds of Northern Ireland I believe you have to see humanity in the face of the enemy. But forgiveness is a journey. Today you can forgive and tomorrow you can feel pain all over again … for me forgiveness is about grace. To be able to forgive someone who has hurt you is a moment of grace.”

 Discussion Questions

  • We do not know how the conversation between Jesus and Zacchaeus started, but somehow it ended up with Zacchaeus admitting to Jesus what he had done and vowing to make the same admission to those he had cheated, so that there could be both forgiveness and reconciliation.  Can you see any similarity between Jesus actions and the vision which inspired Anne Gallagher’s work?
  • What gives people the courage to forgive when as in the case of Northern Ireland, there is long tradition of distrust, violence, and pain?


Scripture Texts (NRSV) for Sunday, November 3, 2013 (Twenty-fourth Sunday after Pentecost)

Isaiah 1:10-18

2 Thessalonians 1:1-4, 11-12

Luke 19:1-10

(Text links are to Oremus Bible Browser. Oremus Bible Browser is not affiliated with or supported by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. You can find the calendar of readings for Year C at Lectionary Readings.)

For lectionary humor and insight, check the weekly comic Agnus Day.


Gospel Reflection

This passage allows us to take up one of several roles, depending on our life circumstance.  For some of us, it is possible to look at things we have done and presume that we are no longer able to be on friendly terms with the “decent” people we know because of our guilt.  Others of us are content to let people who are obviously bad stay out of our lives.  Others of us are – like Jesus – strongly motivated to overcome the divisions we see between people around us.

What a gift Jesus gives us here to pass on, especially if we are someone who is not always on the receiving end of hatred and rejection. We can reach out to those who are. It is possible that they have earned the negative reputation they have, but – like Jesus – we can go to them, not out of moral superiority or in order to demand justice, but just because we want the relationship to be restored.

Who knows what might come of that if it is tried?  And if we are the ones who have been rejected – with or without justification – imagine the joy and gratitude we would experience at being encountered by those who we thought would never have anything to do with us!

Discussion Questions

  •  It is difficult to overestimate the dislike that the Jews of Jericho would have had for a tax collector in Jesus’ day.  First of all, the Jews generally despised the Roman Empire because Rome continued to occupy the territory that the Jews considered to be their ancestral promised land, so anyone who worked for or collaborated with the Romans – such as tax collectors – would have been considered a traitor to the Jewish cause and also “unclean” for worship because of the tax collector’s frequent contact with the Romans who were pagans.  Furthermore, tax collectors were on their own to determine what amounts to charge, as long as they gave the correct amount to the Roman authorities.  Jericho was a border town, which meant that anyone who crossed either way had to pay a customs tax and was at the mercy of the tax collector.  An ambitious tax collector might very well charge as much as four times a normal amount to someone who was obviously anxious to get across the border.  Shortly after Jesus’ day the law among Jews was that if a tax-collector came into your house, the entire house and everything in it would become religiously unclean.  How does this inform or change your view of what a serious matter it must have been when Jesus invited himself to Zacchaeus’s house for a meal?  Look back in the previous chapter of Luke and see if this helps make sense of passages like 18:31-34.
  • Note the placement of this story.  If you look at the rest of chapter 19 and through to chapter 22, what is getting ready to happen to Jesus?  Is it surprising that Jesus takes this kind of risk, knowing that he already has enemies in the Jerusalem area?  What other kinds of risky and surprising things do we see Jesus doing in this gospel and in the other gospels?
  • What does it mean when Jesus says “Salvation has come to this house” ?  What do we think when we hear the word “salvation,” and does a passage like this inform or change our ideas at all?  If we think of salvation only in terms of what happens to us after we die, this passage doesn’t make much sense, but if salvation is as much what happens to us now, in terms of growing close to God, is that a better understanding of salvation, especially here?
  • The overall story in Luke’s gospel is full of criss-cross patterns.  This passage actually has a kind of parallel to the instructions given by John the Baptist to both Jews and Romans back in chapter 3:7-14.  Note even the parallel reference to children of Abraham.   What is this passage teaching us about our own possessions, our own honesty, our own tendencies to be greedy, and our own relationship to the poor and needy around us?  Let’s imagine what our own reactions would be if Jesus himself showed up in the flesh to one of our homes for a meal.  What would we find ourselves admitting to him?  What would we promise to do to be faithful to the call to gospel living that is in both chapter 3 and chapter 19?

Activity Suggestions

  •  Invitations to meals are always a good way to build relationships.  Are there people in the school or neighborhood – or even the congregation – who would welcome an invitation to a meal with the youth of your church?  Plan a meal and then ask them if they would like to come join you!
  • Use the various online and other tools that are available to you to find places in the world where unjust economic practices have created a rift of hatred between the wealthy and the poor or between those who have power to extort money from the population and those who are victimized by that.  Keep these people – perpetrators as well as victims – in your prayers throughout the rest of the fall.

Closing Prayer

Lord Jesus, in your love you have reached out to the lonely, the rejected, and the guilty in every generation, and you have reached out to us as well to announce to us that you intend to come and make your home in our lives and our hearts.  Give us, we pray, the strength to welcome you with repentance and gratitude and courage, so that we may in turn welcome others into the family of Abraham’s children.  In your holy name we pray, Amen.

February 24, 2013–Daring Danger

Contributed by Erik Ulstead, West Des Moines, IA


Warm-up Question

What’s the most heroic thing you’ve seen someone do?

Daring Danger

shutterstock_90565891editFirefighters are often called into dangerous circumstances.  Typically, they are asked to rescue people from burning buildings and fiery explosions.  Earlier this month, local firefighters in Kokomo, Indiana found themselves trying to extract a dog from a partially frozen creek.

Like most dogs, Chancellor (or Chance, for short) loved to chase squirrels.  “He’ll chase anything with fur or feathers, but he always comes back,” remarked owner Jimmy Prestler.  Chance pursued the squirrel to a nearby park and onto a patch of ice.  “I’m guessing the squirrel made it across the creek, but the dog didn’t,” said Dave King, battalion chief with the fire department.  A person driving through the park saw the dog fall through the ice and stopped to help, but he was unable to save Chance and called the fire department.

Firefighter Derek Pounds was given the chilly task of rescuing Chance.  After a few minutes Pounds was able to slide across the creek pull the dog out of the water, with the aid of a cold-water rescue suit and an ice sled.  Chance was shaking violently and had icicles frozen to his face.  Pounds wrapped him in a blanket to warm and dry the dog.  King said the dog likely would have died if he’d been in the creek much longer.  “It’s lucky someone saw what happened and called,” he said. “Had he not seen him, the dog would have frozen to death.”

Prestler expressed gratitude to everyone involved in the rescue.  “I think I would have to get therapy if he didn’t survive,” Prestler said.  “Whenever I come home, it’s like seeing my brother after five years.  Chance just goes nuts every time.  They not only saved his life, they saved mine, too.”


Discussion Questions

  • When have you seen public servants (firefighters, police officers, road construction workers, etc.) in action?
  • What do you think about the owner’s comments about his dog?
  • Have you ever been asked to help someone in need? How did you respond?

Scripture Texts (NRSV) for Sunday, February 24, 2013 (Second Sunday of Lent)


Genesis 15:1-12, 17-18

Philippians 3:17-4:1

Luke 13:31-35

(Text links are to Oremus Bible Browser. Oremus Bible Browser is not affiliated with or supported by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. You can find the calendar of readings for Year C at Lectionary Readings.)

For lectionary humor and insight, check the weekly comic Agnus Day.


Gospel Reflection

There’s a lot going on in these few verses in Luke 13.  Jesus had just wrapped up a teaching and healing spree in various communities outside of Jerusalem.  With each stop along the way, the crowds grew larger.  Everyone wanted to see this Jesus they had heard so much about.  However, not everyone was a fan of Jesus.

Herod, the ruler of that region, recently beheaded John the Baptist, Jesus’ friend and mentor.  Many Pharisees (the nice ones, not the mean ones) were concerned that Herod would come after Jesus next.  They told Jesus to leave Jerusalem and go into hiding.  However, Jesus was defiant, insisting that the work of casting out demons and performing cures was too important for him to hide.

He also pauses for a moment to express his dismay for the whole city of Jerusalem.  Jesus is sad for the way Jerusalem has treated the people God has sent there as prophets and ministers.  Furthermore, he knows that he will suffer a similar fate when he returns (for what we now know as Palm Sunday).

We learn a lot about Jesus in this passage.  First, it’s clear that Jesus is one who protects and heals people who are sick or broken.  Second, we see that Jesus is committed to complete the tasks to which he was called.  Finally, we discover that, regardless of their past, Jesus still has concern for the well-being of the entire community.  Through all of this, Jesus reveals that God has a heart for particular places and times.  God cares about your town…your school…your family…your church.  Like a mother hen covering her chicks, or a firefighter rescuing a dog,  Jesus seeks to protect us – and calls us to shelter others in need.

Discussion Questions

  • Why do you think the Pharisees are warning Jesus about Herod’s plot?
  • Did Jesus make the right choice to stay in Jerusalem?
  • Who are some people God is calling you to protect and care for this week?

Activity Suggestions

  • Grab some craft sticks and glue.  Attempt to build a building that can’t be knocked over by someone blowing on it.  Talk about how different structures are used to protect people from bad weather or evil people.
  • Contact a local animal shelter.  Offer to bring your group to learn about the work they do.  Consider volunteering some time to care for animals or do repairs around their facility.

Closing Prayer

God, we thank you for sending your Son to care for us.  May we provide comfort, hope, and peace to the people we encounter this week.  In Jesus name, amen.

November 25, 2012–Leader of the Free World

Contributed by Dave Dodson, Shalimar, FL


Warm-up Question

Who do you consider to be a good leader?

Leader of the Free World

Three weeks ago, the longest election cycle in United States history ended with the re-election of President Barack Obama.  The race received a great deal of media attention, not only within the United States, but worldwide.  Even citizens of European, Asian, African, and South American nations often favored one candidate over another and followed the race from their own countries.

This seems a little much, doesn’t it?  After all, the President does not have absolute power, even in the United States.  His power is balanced by powers given to Congress and the Supreme Court.  The President cannot pass laws on his own; he can only ratify or reject laws approved by Congress.  Why, then, were so many people, both inside and outside of the United States, so very invested in the result of the Presidential election?

To a large degree, the Presidential race matters because it represents the United States as a whole: what the majority of our citizens believe, what values we hold to be most important, and what we’re willing to fight for.  Since the Cold War, the President of the United States has often been given the nickname “Leader of the Free World”, suggesting that his leadership defined the values and actions of democratic countries around the world.

Certainly, the President has a very important political position.  To the rest of the world, though, he is also a very powerful symbol of the will of the citizens of the United States.

Discussion Questions

  • Can you think of any other leaders, political or otherwise, in recent world history who have exemplified the values of their followers?  (Prompt your students to “think outside the box” if need be!  Examples could be political figures, such as Nelson Mandela or another US President.  They might be ideological, like Martin Luther King or the Dalai Lama)
  • Should we hold political leaders to a high ethical standard?  What about leaders in other fields, like music, sports, and business?

Scripture Texts (NRSV) for Sunday, November 25, 2012 (Christ the King Sunday)

Daniel 7:9-10, 13-14

Revelation 1:4b-8

John 18:33-37

(Text links are to Oremus Bible Browser. Oremus Bible Browser is not affiliated with or supported by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. You can find the calendar of readings for Year C at Lectionary Readings.)

For lectionary humor and insight, check the weekly comic Agnus Day.


Gospel Reflection

When Pilate stands before Jesus to question him, we can tell that he desperately wants to put some sort of label on him.  Jesus has been accused of no specific crime against the Roman Empire at this point.  The Pharisees and their followers have simply dragged Jesus before Pilate, insisting that he be put to death, without giving a reason.  Pilate isn’t concerned with Jesus or the Pharisees.  All he wants out of Jesus is a quick answer so he can label him, pass judgment, and dismiss him.

“Are you the King of the Jews?”  Pilate wants Jesus to simply confirm that he is on some power trip, trying to gain control of the nation of Israel.  If Jesus says “Yes”, he can probably be dismissed as a crazy person, found guilty of no crime against the Roman Empire, and released.  If he says “No”, he can be written off as a victim and, again, probably released.

Instead, Jesus’ answers to Pilate’s questions indicate that he is not the “King of the Jews”, but is a king in a far greater way. Jesus is much more than a worldly king.  His kingship extends to more than just the nation of Israel.  His power passes far beyond that of a political ruler.  And most of all, his message of peace and love is for absolutely all people everywhere.  Jesus is clear about this when he answers Pilate: “For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth.”

Sometimes, Christians and non-Christians alike have been guilty of the same mistake that Pilate makes.  We want to put a single label on Jesus so that we can dismiss the fullness of his mission and ministry.  We want to limit Jesus’ message to just the parts that make us comfortable or help us win an argument.  We want Jesus’ words to make us feel good all the time, and we ignore the parts of Jesus’ teachings that challenge us.  Sometimes, we even seem to forget that it isn’t just Christians who are part of God’s people — that Jesus’ message is for all people everywhere.

Let’s learn from Pilate’s mistake.  Rather than trying to make Jesus fit our expectations, let’s open our minds up to hear his teachings again, and let him tell us about his kingdom!

Discussion Questions

  • Jesus is the ultimate example of a faithful leader.  What sort of traits did Jesus have that we should emulate?  How does this differ from the values of secular culture?
  • How do leaders in your church follow Jesus’ example in their actions and ministries?

Activity Suggestion

Create crowns from posterboard (or gather cardboard crowns from a local fast food restaurant).  On the crowns, write the attributes and attitudes that Jesus modeled through his words and guidance (peace, forgiveness, love, faith, etc).  Decorate the crowns.  (If you wish, invite students to make a gift of the paper crowns to church members who exhibit these traits in their congregational leadership.)

Closing Prayer

Almighty God, you gave us a magnificent world and abundant blessings.  Help us to be good leaders in your world and spread your love and blessings to all people.  Let us be your hands in a world that longs to feel your touch.  Amen.

October 14, 2012–Where Does Our Money Go?

Contributed by Jay Gamelin, Lexington, S. C.


Warm-up Question

Have you ever received a large financial gift?  What did you do with it?

Where Does Our Money Go”

Quadriga Art helped several non-profit companies raise millions of dollars to support their work with poor and marginalized populations from Native American children to disabled veterans.  So why are these non-profits in debt to Quadriga?  Can this possibly be okay?

It’s hard to say.

On one side, the company raises money for programs that are meant to help others but have a high cost to run.  When these projects fail it is not the fault of the fundraiser but the management of the projects.  If the project uses all the money raised without paying the fundraising company, the project owes a debt to the fundraising company. The fundraising company cannot be held accountable of poor management in the nonprofits.

On the other hand, it is the fundraiser’s job to raise this money. The projects these non-profits create are dependent on the support of the fundraisers and it is their work to make sure the goals are achieved. If they do not reach their goals, can this be the fault of the nonprofits?

This issue raises questions about how we give and support projects we believe are worthy. When we give to something, are we sure that the money is going where we think it is?  How much of the money we give goes to the project and how much goes to administration, support, advertising, and yes, the fundraising effort itself?

As this issue is resolved through investigations, it is clear that the greater lesson to be learned is this- know where you are giving and be sure your dollar is doing what you think it is doing.


Discussion Questions

  • Who is at fault in this case?  Do you find yourself supporting the non-profits or the fundraiser?  Why?
  • When was the last time you gave to a charity (outside of church)?  How much research did you put into the charity and how they use their income?  What do you think your money is doing?
  • How do you balance your own giving?  How much of your own money do you give to causes you think are worthy?  What is a goal you have for your own giving?

Scripture Texts (NRSV) for Sunday, October 14, 2012 (Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost

Amos 5:6-7

Hebrews 4:12-16

Mark 10:17-31

(Text links are to Oremus Bible Browser. Oremus Bible Browser is not affiliated with or supported by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. You can find the calendar of readings for Year C at Lectionary Readings.)

For lectionary humor and insight, check the weekly comic Agnus Day.


Gospel Reflection

What do we make of the rich young ruler in our gospel?  Is this a man troubled by the evils of wealth?  Is love for money the root of all evil?  It seems so, if we are to take this text at face value.  Perhaps it is easier to pass a camel through a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom.  Why?

Jesus holds up for the rich young ruler the laws of Moses and the ruler says he has followed “these.”  But what is to be noticed is not what is listed but what is not: “You shall have no other God before me” “Observe the Sabbath” and “Do not covet” are missing.  This is a remez style of rabbinical teaching, where what we are notice is not what is quoted but what is around it and we pay attention to what is not said.  By removing these commands, we look at the reality that this is not about money but rather that he has another God and it is his own wealth, that he has not honored the Sabbath (perhaps working instead!) and that this has led to him wanting more and more. Jesus recommends expelling this from his life, to get rid of this idol. Seems so easy, right?

We cannot simply remove wealth from our lives as if it were cancer.   In today’s culture, we need it for food, clothing, shelter, etc.  The issue is not the money, it’s what happens when we serve it as our god.  When wealth and accumulation becomes our goal we lose what is more important, justice and mercy. Amos says that we are to seek good, and this can be done with wealth. It has great power to do good things.  But we also need to be wise with our wealth. We need to be sure we give generously, so that it does not control us, but also wisely, so that it is being used for holy purposes. Seek the wisdom to use your monies for good so that you may control it rather than have it control you.

Discussion Questions

  • What are some things you think money is good for?  How has it been a help?  What are ways you have seen money used poorly?
  • What are projects you have been interested in giving a hand to?  What needs are in the world you would be interested in supporting financially?  Have you done this?  Why or why not?
  • Do you know of examples in your life, people or other entities, you look up to when it comes to money and giving? Does their faith affect them in their decisions?
  • What are some other things you think are great gifts of God but can quickly become idols?  (i.e. image problems, overindulgence of food, over-exercise, etc.)

Activity Suggestions

Charity Watch:

For this activity, you will need a computer connection.   Let’s take a look at some non-profits and how they use their money. Visit a site such as  Think of some non-profit organizations that you may want to consider giving to.  If you are looking for some direction, try these:  Lutheran World Relief, Compassion International, YWCA, World Vision, Kare Youth League, and Blood:water mission. How do you think they are doing? Hint: Don’t just look at the score!  Take a close look at the information such as the number of dollars that go to program as opposed to administration. Perhaps some are better than they may appear on the surface! Which might you be interested in helping?

There are many worthy places to support. It is our job to seek where our heart meets the needs of the world. No one can give to every worthy place, instead decide where your heart is called and get determined to give what you can to support this call.

Closing Prayer

The earth is yours and everything in it, Lord, ourselves, our time, and our possessions. Help us to use what you have given us to be signs of life and good. Lead us to those places that need us. We turn over what we have to you, in the name of Jesus. AMEN.