Operation Christmas Child 2013

itsshoeboxtime_001Christmas is rapidly approaching and as you know, one way we celebrate the Savior’s birthday each year at Sunlight is by collecting shoe box gifts from our church family and community and sending them out to hurting children around the world in the Name of Jesus.

Operation Christmas Child has reached millions of children in over 140 countries. As we reach children with the power of the Gospel, they are becoming a generation of believers who are proclaiming Christ to their nation. Let me say that again, because this is HUGE:

As we reach children with the power of the Gospel, they are becoming a generation of believers who are proclaiming Christ to their nation.

Have you heard the good news in Haiti?

2011 was the first year that OCC was able to offer The Greatest Journey in Haiti. The Greatest Journey is the follow up discipleship program of OCC. Children can gather for 12 week classes with local church partners. The gathering may include sing-alongs, Bible Stories, verse memorization, and other activities.

The Greatest Journey curriculum equips children to store the truth of the Gospel in their hearts. Once a child completes the 12-lesson Bible study, they receive a special New Testament in their own language, oftentimes it is the first copy of God’s Word in their household. We know that one day the toys we send them will be gone, but the Gospel does not perish, spoil, or fade.

Through OCC, church partners in Haiti handed out shoe box gifts to 286,000 children.

Since that last distribution, over 60,000 girls and boys have completed the 12 Bible Lessons in The Greatest Journey program and received New Testaments in the Creole language. Of those children, 27,000 children made first-time professions of faith in Christ.

Sunlight doubled it’s box donations past years and many of them went to Haiti.

Never underestimate the power of a your gift in the hands of an Almighty God.

I pray you will pack a box for Operation Christmas Child this year. Boxes and booklets on how to pack a box are now available in the lobby.

I thank God for all of you who pray, pack shoe boxes, volunteer your time, or give financially in support of Operation Christmas Child.  May God richly bless you and your family this Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Decisions, Decisions

13Nov_widescreen_VerseNIrVOur upcoming Sunday School theme is Wisdom.

The Bible gives us one story from Jesus’ childhood, and in that story we find Him in the temple. Jesus spent several days sitting among the teachers listening and asking questions. Luke 2:47 tells us that everyone was amazed by His understanding. Jesus took time to understand God’s plan for His life. He knew that God was source of all wisdom. Jesus made discovering God’s wisdom a priority in His life.

Wisdom is finding out what you should do and doing it. When we seek wisdom and ask God for it, He will give it to us. He will help us figure out the wise choice when we need to make a decision. We can find God’s wisdom by reading the Bible and asking trusted Christ-followers.

When we don’t put wisdom into practice, we make foolish choices that have unwanted consequences. We also demonstrate that we don’t value God’s Word, since the Bible is full of wisdom. Making unwise choices makes us look foolish to others around us.

When we follow Jesus’ example, we will search for wisdom. We’ll learn what we should do, make choices that help us grow better relationships, and learn more about God. Working to apply wisdom to our lives shows that we believe God’s Word is true.

(1) Choosing wisdom is not always easy. God’s Word is full of truth we can apply to our lives.

(2) The Bible challenges us to respond to others with wisdom even when it costs us something.

(3) Showing wisdom proves that God is at work within us.

God wants to give you wisdom. Any time we have a decision to make or a situation we aren’t sure how to handle, we can ask God for wisdom. When you aren’t sure of the next step to take, seek out God’s wisdom for answers.

“Choose my teaching instead of silver. Choose knowledge rather than fine gold.” Proverbs 8:10

No matter how big or small the decision, God will help you make the wise choice.

(From 252 Basics Lesson on Wisdom – For Leaders)

Beach Baptism 2013

Beach Baptism 2013 65Every August we follow up our summer Profession of Faith Class for kids with a Beach Baptism. It is one of the blessings that south Florida living offers us and, our church family looks forward to the ceremony every year

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We had 15 Sunlight Kids take the plunge this weekend as well as youth and adults. Here’s a fish eye view of some of our friends in the water.

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Everyone left with sandy shoes and smile.

GEMS Leaders Prepare for “ACTS” Fall Workshop

GEMS Awards 2013 46THESE ladies are awesome! Our GEMS club is blessed to have outstanding leadership, some of whom are also Regional Coordinators who have been getting ready this week for the ACTS Fall Workshop scheduled to be held at Sunlight this weekend.

The Area Coordinator Training and Support workshop kicks off with The Higher Grounds Café at 7:30 PM tonight with coffee, tasty treats, prizes, and the sweetness of building relationships with fellow counselors and sharing ideas.

Karyn Dekker, GEMS Regional Leadership Trainer, (who also wears the hat of VBS Worship Leader) will be sharing powerful and playful ways to thread this season’s theme into every nook and cranny of club life.

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GEMS Awards 2013 09Lisa O’Hanlon, GEMS Area Coordinator, hopes Area 30 GEMS leaders leave the workshop this weekend “feeling equipped, encouraged, and inspired to build an effective, relational GEMS ministry in their churches.”

The workshop continues on Saturday with worship, and dives into this year’s “Who’s the Greatest?” theme based on John 3:30.

If you have a few minutes to look around, check out Sunlight’s GEMS club page on our website here.

and PS, our GEMS club wouldn’t shine as bright without this divine diva ; ) Stacy Knapp, Sunlight GEMS Club Coordinator extraordinaire!

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A Day in the Life

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It’s Friday! Today we have chapel for summer camp. So, this morning, I’m going over the memory verse and Bible story to teach the lesson to the gang this afternoon.

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I put some clues in the treasure box and will ask some kids to come up on stage to see what the Bible story will be about.

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I don’t think they will be expecting fish! Can you guess from the clues what the Bible story will be? Yep – Jesus feeds the Multitudes (Matthew 14:13.)

One thing I enjoy about teaching preschoolers is seeing their expressions when they hear Bible stories for the first time and watching the truth resonate in them.

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That and I get to see firetrucks ; )

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Jesus, fish, and firetrucks – just another day in the life!

Palm Sunday 2013

Peeking through the Palms

Peeking through the Palms

On Palm Sunday, Jesus entered through the city gates of Jerusalem riding on a donkey. On that day he fulfilled the prophesy in Zechariah 9:9.

The city welcomed him by spreading their cloaks and palm branches on the ground and waving palm branches in the air, shouting “Hosanna in the highest!”

Each year on Palm Sunday the kids get to participate in the worship service with a parade of palms. They bring to life the memory of that special day when Jesus rode into town. We can remember that on that day, he rode into town for us too.

I want to thank Kyle and Nicole for taking the time to cut the palm branches on Saturday afternoon from a bush out back in very windy weather!  We are fortunate to live in Florida where we have an abundance of palms to pick from.

You can sense the excitement in the air:

Palm Sunday 2013 Processional

Palms up high!

Thank you Laurie, Chris, Dave, Michelle, Jake, and JoAnn – our Sunday School Teachers,  for getting the gang in and out without putting any eyes out. I know we all had palms “waved” in our faces that day ; )

Andrew F. also helped hand out palms to the kids that morning and Eric T. helped clean a big pile of palms up at the end of the day.

All God's Children Singing...

All God’s Children Singing…

I also want to thank our praise team, especially vocalists Jen, Nicole, and Rich, for sharing the stage so graciously. I commend you for still remembering the lyrics from within the center of the palm pandemonium.

Handing out palms to the folks on the way out.

Handing out palms to the folks on the way out.

Thanks also to Marissa and Harley for helping out at the end of the service, distributing palms for our church family to take home.

(Got Fran in the purple dress in the background there.) Hi Fran! Many thanks to you as well. You’re the glue that keeps us all put together around here.

Thank you all for going the extra mile to make Palm Sunday meaningful.
Our palm provider...
Final thanks to the palm tree out back. All gave some, some gave all. : )

We don’t go to church, we are the church. – Blessings in Christ,  Holly