Family Time: God’s Amazing World: And it was GOOD!

Welcome to the Laurel Wood

Home of EE Otter and Friends

God’s world is a wondrous and miraculous place!  He created everything in it, both the things we see and the things we cannot see and His Word, the Bible tells us the story of creation.  Here’s an invitation to  you and your family join me and EE Otter here in this corner of the Laurel Wood as we discover the amazing treasure of truths in God’s Word and how we can apply those truths to our lives everyday!

As we travel along learning about God’s love, you might find having a copy of my children’s book EE Otter and the Bullfrog Bullies would be helpful as we will be using it as a resource for our exciting journey.  However, you can adventure along with us regardless since our compass will be the unfailing Word of God himself.  Let’s get started!

God’s Amazing World: And it was GOOD!

Scripture References: Genesis 1:1-20; Colossians 1:16

EE Otter and the Bullfrog Bullies: Chapter One: Meeting EE

Grown Up Preparation

     Take some time to re-read the Genesis account of creation and the verse from Colossians.  You may also know of a few other verses, such as Acts 17:24-31, that can help as you prepare your heart and mind for this family devotional time.  Think about the amazing world God created, about the truth that Christ was there with Him, about the fact that we were created for Him and spend a few minutes just praising Him for these things. Decide, depending upon the ages of your children, which verses you will read and if there are other verses that you might want to use to support the fact that God designed and created this world. You may want to make a list and have your children look up verses on their own throughout the week and use these as talking points during car rides, dinner, or bedtime.

Let the Adventure Begin:

Things you will need:

  • Bible (your Compass for our adventures)
  • a timer
  • slips of paper with categories on them: flying creatures, swimming creatures, land creatures, insects, flowers, fruit…………
  • copy of EE Otter and the Bullfrog Bullies (optional)
  • 3×5 cards, one for each family member
  • Play the game: “Take-A-Moment”

Decide who will go first and have that person draw a category slip.  Now set the timer for 30 seconds and see how many creatures he/she can name from the category drawn.  You can decide if you will have a winner and award a prize.

Begin by asking what they think of the how many different creatures that exist.  Where did they all come from?  How could they all be so different?  Why are there so many types and kinds?  Which is their favorite?

Next, open God’s word, and then pray together for His wisdom and revelation as you learn more about what an awesome God we serve.  Read from Genesis 1.  As you read about what was created on each day, you can ask the family to recall some of the creatures they named during the game.  Ask them what God had to say about His creation. “It was good” It had to be good because God is only and always good and His creation reflected His character.

How did God define days in the Genesis account? Some Christian teachers and pastors teach that it is possible for God to have used evolution as a way to make the world; that each day could have been a million years since God exists outside of time.  This is not Truth!  What does God say?  He says “and the evening and the morning were the…….day”  Once God set the sun and moon into their orbits, He then created a timetable for His creation that was a 24 hour period.  For further proof of God’s definition of days and how He used 24 hour periods to create our amazing world, see what He said to Moses in Deuteronomy  20:4.

The very beginning of the Bible tells us God created the world, what does the New Testament have to say about that?  Since the Bible, from its’ first word to its’ last word is all about God’s love for us and His plan of redemption for us through Christ, He must tell us something of creation in the New Testament too!  Read Colossians 1:16, and/or Acts 17:24-31.  Talk about how these verses reinforce what God said 2000 years before in the Genesis account.

If you are using EE Otter and the Bullfrog Bullies, read chapter one and then let the kids tell you some of the things mentioned that God created.  Also, have them repeat Opaah’s saying, “Seasons will come and go.  The river’s water will rise and fall, but the Word of God stays true through it all!”

Finally, get out your compass!  Write the bible verse that your family will be meditating on and memorizing this week on a 3×5 card.  Then let all of the adventurers find a place to “post” their compass.  It should be somewhere that everyone will be able to see it throughout the week.  It will serve as your weekly Compass point to keep everyone headed in the right direction.

Perhaps a snack of animal crackers would be a great treat for everyone after their adventure today in the Laurel Wood!   And come back here on Monday for a list of fun activities, quotes and discussion ideas that will reinforce today’s devotional.

Bullies and Easter? Freedom from the Grip of Sin

EE Otter and The Bullfrog Bullies

What a wonderful and busy weekend our family had as we traveled to gorgeous Greenville, SC for some great PR related to my book!  It was a fun-filled learning adventure and I was glad to have my friend and fellow author Maria Bostian to share it with as well!

Bullying is such a hot topic these days!  Just about every day on news channels, in newspapers, magazines or the web you’ll find a story about bullying.  While it seems so much more prevalent these days, it is certainly not a new thing!  Bullies have been around since man decided that he knew better than God and was going to do things his own way.  Thus, the heart with the potential to bully was born.  And, I am sure most of us have a tale or two of our own to tell about bullies.  And, if you’ve ever been the victim of bullying, even if the experience is years old, the remembrance of it can bring back strong and painful emotions.

This Easter weekend all we have to do is look at the cross to see bullies in their cruelest hour beating, scourging, mocking Jesus.  An innocent man, accused by covert bullies under the guise of religion, tried by cowards who refused to stand on what was right,  betrayed and denied by those who claimed to be his friends.  In a short period of time, less than 24 hours Jesus experiences mental, emotional, spiritual and physical bullying to the most extreme measures!  How is it that I still doubt that He “gets it” when my heart is broken and my spirit crushed by the bullies that I encounter?

Enter the cross where Jesus laid down His life, spilled His innocent blood so that those who repent of their sins and accept His gift of salvation can have their accounts wiped clean by a Holy God!  And the song that has been playing in my heart and head: In Christ Alone (by Stuart Townend) . His death became my freedom from the curse of sin that separated me from a holy and righteous God.  He is my Righteousness.  His death has made me free as Galatians 5:1 says “It was for freedom that Christ has set us free”

And I come back to the song playing in my head; to this phrase that has got me thinking about sin’s curse and the collateral damage that we feel from sin’s curse when someone chooses to bully us: “And as He stands in victory, sin’s curse has lost its’ grip on me” .  Reality is this: many people use their “freedom” to inflict pain upon others;  bullies choose to sin and their choice inflicts a hefty price for anyone on the receiving end of their ugliness.

We hear this truth preached: that Christ died for our sins, once and for all, and that anyone that receives Him is no longer separated from the Father by their sin.  In essence, the curse of sin, which is separation from a Holy God, no longer has its’ grip on us!  Hallelujah! “And as He stands in victory sins’ curse has lost its’ grip on me!”  But, what if there is more?

What about the devastation that can grip us when we have been victimized by bullying?  The residual effects of that pain can hold us fast in its death grip and slowly choke all life right out of us.  Please hear this truth: the horrible effects of the sins someone else commits against us were also dealt with when Christ arose!  No power could hold Him down!  There was nothing that was going to stop Him from defeating the curse of sin; nothing that was going to stop Him from rising to power over the effects of sin (our own sin or the sins committed against us) and raising us up with Him to victory!

Will we feel pain when someone hurts us with their words or their actions? Unfortunately, we will.  I’m not suggesting that we shouldn’t or won’t feel the pain of it.  What I am saying is that this Easter celebration just gives emphasis to the fact that we can choose to live Easter everyday when we stand in the rightful power of our Savior Jesus Christ and in His love!  Maybe that is the mystery behind why He told the people on that hillside centuries ago in the book of Matthew chapter 5 to love our enemies and to pray for those who persecute us.  Perhaps this is where true power to overcome lies?

He gives us very simple instructions here.  Not easy, but simple and straightforward.  When He rose again, He provided the power to make these simple, but sometimes difficult instructions completely possible to follow.  We do not have to live in the grip of the curse of sins committed against us!

Not only saving us from our own sins, but giving us a power to live free from the vice-grip of the pain and bitterness caused by those who bully and hurt us.  The beauty and the power of Easter is meant to be an everyday thing for the children of God, for the church of Christ!  We celebrate and live in the power of Christ Resurrected!

What the apostle Paul prayed for his brothers and sisters in Ephesus is my prayer, also, for all of you:   Ephesians 1:15-23

For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love[a] toward all the saints, I do not cease to give thanks for you,remembering you in my prayers,  that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places,  far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.  And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church,  which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.” Amen!

HAPPY (everyday) EASTER!

Enjoy the link to the song: In Christ Alone