Free Baptism Gifts: Pocketcard Download Instructions

You and I both know it would be a whole lot easier if we could just send you a disk with the Pocketcard digital files on it.  However, that would cost something and take a whole bunch more time.

Instead, you have to put up with being a bit more of a computer user than you probably wished for.  But hopefully, the following screenshots will give you a guide that makes the process a little less painful. 

1.  So, here goes…

When you first click on the photo of the Pocketcard you want, you will get a screen that looks like the one to the left. 

This is the home screen of the free-of-charge file storage website – 4Shared.com –  that we chose to store the Pocketcard files.

Please note:  You can click on the screenshots to the left to view a larger image of each one, if needed.

2.  After you click on the download link in the 1st screen, you’ll get a “thank you” message that looks something like the next screen to the left.

Ignore all of the flashing and other moving items that might distract your eyes from the line that says “Click here…” 

Those are all ways that the good people at 4Shared make a living, by attempting to get your attention long enough to click on one of these other pieces of eye candy.

If you accidentally or unintentionally click on one, don’t worry – they are harmless for the most part, mainly there in hopes of 4Shared earning themselves a little online ad revenue from your click.  Doesn’t cost you anything.

3.  After you click on the “…down load this file” line on the prior screen, you should get a dialog box somewhat like the one shown in the screen to the left. 

Please note that we used Microsoft’s Internet Explorer for these screens; if you are using a different browser, like Mozilla’s Firefox or Apple’s Safari, your dialog box may look a little different.

In any case, we recommend that you select the option to “Save” the zip file, rather than “Open” it, so you have it for later.

4.  When you choose to “Save” the Pocketcard file, you should get a couple of last dialog boxes that look like the ones in the screen to the left. 

As you can see in the example, we already set up a sub-folder called “Faithkeeper files” in a main folder called “Downloads” where we chose to save all of the files we download for this example.

More than likely, you will have a differently named folder / sub-folder that appears as the default in this screen.  You can save the file to whatever folder appears, select a different folder, or even set up a new one just for Faithkeepers files, like we did.

5.  In any case, after you have selected the location to store the zip file and saved it, the last thing you need to use the files is to “unzip” them. 

To do this, you simply double-click on the file in the folder where you saved it and you should be presented a screen that looks like the one to the left. 

What this shows you is the viewable and printable files that you downloaded for each respective Pocketcard.  To actually save them as individual files, you need to click on the “Extract all files” link in the left-hand column with the blue background.

Success?  We hope so…  If not, and you run into problems, then do like I do and have one of your teenage daughters or sons (or your neighbors’ kids) do it for you!  Good luck and happy printing!!

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Part 2: Unexpected Theology from Children – Art

In “Part 1: Unexpected Theology,” I described conversations I’ve had with children and their ideas and beliefs about God. What I found is that Children have many of the same questions as adults about God.

Children are deeply spiritual beings at the beginning of life. They want to know: How were we created? What is our purpose? How do we communicate with God?

These are basic life questions. The parents of the children that I’ve conversed with have done a remarkable job of providing ways to nurture their understanding of God. In addition to talking with kids about God, I’ve also studied their perspectives through their art. The experiences have been truly enlightening.

Art is a natural way to explore a child’s deep thoughts about God. Over the years of working with kids, I’ve collected a number of examples. Some of them are from my own three children; others from children in our church or other congregations.

Regardless of the source, I think you’ll find the individual expressions fascinating. Here are a few of my favorite examples:

1. Our family traveled to Australia. My 14 year old daughter, Lauren, was intrigued by the story of the mistreatment of the aboriginal people and their spiritual beliefs.

When we returned to Texas, the bulletin cover at church on the first week back stated, “Draw a Picture of Jesus.

This prompted her to wonder how the Aboriginal people would draw Jesus.

As you can see it reflects their view of themselves with the tattoos. The discussion after church focused on the different ways that Jesus may come to each of us.

By listening to different viewpoints, we can learn from each other.

2. This 7 year old saw Jesus as very nice and loving.

The hearts show how all-encompassing Jesus love is.

3. A 4 year old drew this picture of Jesus on the Mountain.

Jesus was with the child sliding down the mountain.

Jesus was a friend in this child’s daily life.

 4. “Draw some ways that show how you follow Jesus.

My 11 year old son, Ben, drew a maze. He said there are many paths to following Jesus.

The important thing is to find Jesus.

5. A classmate of my 10 year old son Andrew died in a car accident in the 1st grade.

The classmate’s death affected my son deeply; it was still on his mind when he completed this collage 3 years later.

In the artwork, the child who died (at right) is being teleported to heaven. Once there, he has a party hat on because he is with Jesus.

(My son had questions about the literal travel details of getting to heaven and concluded that being with Jesus must be fun!)

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Through the eyes of a child my understanding of God was expanded, simplified, and enriched.

Part 1: Unexpected Theology from Children – Conversations

When my children were young, my worship goal was to keep them occupied during the worship service. I brought drawing paper for them to use during church or I grabbed the children’s bulletin as I entered worship so they would have something to occupy their hands during the adult oriented worship service.

As I watched them draw flowers, guns, airplanes, houses and stick figures, I felt slightly guilty, because I often heard the phrase “Children think they have to be entertained. They must learn to sit and listen in church. That’s what was expected of us!”

However, as I watched my children create, I occasionally noticed a picture of the altar or the communion table, indicating that God was on their minds. In fact, the post worship conversations shed new light on the airplane and gun doodling. They too, frequently had a connection to God.

As I collected my children’s bulletin artwork over the years, I realized I had been given a gift. I discovered that even from a young age, children are deeply spiritual and aware of the presence of God. Art and conversations are natural ways of encouraging their discovery of God.

I shared my newfound discoveries with my Pastor. She encouraged me to teach a Sunday school class on the unexpected theology of children. To broaden my research beyond my children’s faith, I asked a 3rd, 4th and 5th grade summer class to share with me their thoughts and drawings of God.

Conversation with Kids

I started the conversation by asking the following question:

“If God was sitting next to you in a chair and you could ask God anything, what would you ask?” This is how the conversation went.

“Was the big bang theory correct? I want to know how the world was created.”

Another child asked, “Why can’t I have the talent to be a gymnast? Everyone else can do that.”

The reply came from another child. “Everyone has different talents. I think you are so kind and caring. That is what your talent is.” (You could see a quizzical look and then an expression of satisfaction on the girl who asked the question. It was a new way of thinking for her.)

Another child changed the subject, “I want to know what my purpose on earth is?”

“Yeah, and where do we come from?” chimed another.

“Oh let’s not get into THAT again!” piped one child in a semi-disgusted manner. (The previous Sunday’s topic was human sexuality) “Why does the church have to teach sex education? The schools should do that job.”

I couldn’t help but remember the discussions in the 1970’s claiming values and sex education should be taught by the parents and the church…now children want to hear the information from the school!

A Fresh View of “Purpose Driven”

I finally got a word in and asked, “What is our purpose?”

“God just wanted someone to be on earth and wanted someone to be like God,” said one.

“I think we are here to worship God, said another.

The scientific minded child piped in again and asked, “Why did God make us evolve? Why didn’t he just make us the way we are? And why did he make the ice age?”

“Oh, oh, I have another question, can God split himself apart? If he is everywhere, he has to be able to do that!!!”

I asked, “How do you picture God’s face? The answers were abundant.

“I see him with a white beard and a red coat, like Santa Clause.”

“I think Jesus and God have a resemblance.”

“I believe that God brings me good luck. I prayed that I would get a good grade on my test. That brings me good luck.”

A child brought me a drawing and said, “This is how I see God’s face. The picture was of a throne. No one was sitting on the throne; however, above the chair you could see a halo. The child said, “You can’t see God’s face, only the effects of God.”

Another child asked, “Do you believe in miracles? I do…let me tell you a story. My mom’s friend had a baby, but the baby died before he was born. My mom’s friend was in the hospital and during the night a nurse came in to comfort her. In the morning she asked which nurse came in. They said that no one came into the room during the night. I think it was an angel comforting my mom’s friend.”

My last question was, “What is your favorite memory of church?”

I was expecting great theological memories of what they had learned. Instead, I lost control of the class after this answer. “Remember when the organ was struck by lightening during church? That was cool!”

From the Mouths of Babes

Cool indeed…the whole experience of “gong deep with little ones was cool and it led me to take a renewed look at the children’s art, too. I discuss my findings from that personal study in Part 2 of “Unexpected Theology.”

Meanwhile, please share your personal experiences with kids – from toddler to young adults – so that we can learn from one another.

Christian Baptism: What’s it All About?

(Adapted from Let the Children Come: A Baptism Manual for Parents and Sponsors, copyright Daniel W. Erlander)

Welcome parents, sponsors, family members and friends…to Baptism!

Children — whether born to you or adopted – are truly one of God’s great blessings in life. No doubt, it’s been an exciting time in your household the past several months as you’ve been waiting for your new family member to arrive.

The funny thing is: having a new baby is the easy part! (For those who have already had children, you know this well!) In the months and years ahead, the real challenges await, with much learning and growing to look forward to – for your child and you.

But, before you begin this new life together, you’ve either decided upon or are thinking about baptism for your child.

There are many reasons why Christians bring little children to the baptism font.

One reason is our need to surround a child with love and promises – God’s, the parent’s, the sponsor’s, and the church’s. Together, they all play a part in shaping a well-rounded Christian. Children really benefit from belonging to a community, a people of faith who share a history, a set of beliefs, and a common bond of faith.

Another reason, though, is our Christian belief that a child is much more than “mine” or “ours.” He or she is God’s creation, God’s child. Baptism is one of the primary ways that God directly grants his grace on and in each of us. Later in life, at confirmation, we confirm our baptism and renew this receiving of grace through communion.

With heavy symbolism like this, baptism can sometimes sound pretty complicated. To some, it may appear like a ritual that really ought to be for children or adults who understand what is going on and who can consciously commit to it.

However, Martin Luther (1483-1546), the great reformer, thought otherwise. He kept the practice of infant baptism in the reformation congregations which eventually became Lutheran churches.

Luther saw baptism as the sacrament “through which we are first received into the Christian community.” Since the church is for all, including infants, it follows that baptism, the sacrament of entry, is for all.

Luther also saw infant baptism as the purest and most beautiful picture of God’s gracious and unconditional love.

An infant has served on no committees, has done no great work, and is helpless, needy, dependent, and unemployed. In fact, an infant brought to the water for baptism is a sign of how we all come to god – with nothing, absolutely nothing!

Luther himself was baptized on St. Martin’s Day, November 11, 1483, at St. Peter’s church in Eisleben, Germany. Throughout his life, he celebrated and adored this event, crying out, “I am baptized!” whenever he was in doubt or despair.

That’s the way baptism ought to be – an active and present part of our lives…not the knowledge of a distant event that happened when we were infants.

May your decision to baptize your child, as a sponsor or family member participate in a child’s baptism, be one that you not only celebrate, but finds ways to call upon throughout your life.

Creative Ideas for the “Tweenager:” Tips for Talking to Adolescents

The early adolescent years, which we call being a “tweenager” (roughly from age 11 to 14), can be a challenging but also delightful time to create a stronger connection with a young person.

As always, connecting with them on things that matter for them is a great place to start. Here’s a few tips to consider for parents and baptismal sponsors:

1. Create fun rituals – while tweenagers are beginning to grow away from the home, they often also have a strong, inner security-driven desire to maintain a connection to rituals. One good ritual for families is rotating different table prayers. There are lots of them…encourage the kids to make up their own.

2. Be a role model of faith – baptismal sponsors can be especially important at this age as youth seek role models in addition to their parents. If you live near enough to a godchild, sponsors can plan a service project with their youth once a quarter.

Service projects can range from helping to deliver meals with a “Meals on Wheels” project or serve meals at a homeless food kitchen to building a house at a “Habitat for Humanity” project (NOTE: Habitat has minimum age requirements for its projects, so check with them first).

3. Tweenager boys and girls have especially quick minds that are great for puzzles, trivia, and other problem solving. In a long distance relationship, you can e-mail or mail them word games that they can solve. You can make your own cross word and word search puzzles at the Discovery magazine web site: http://puzzlemaker.school.discovery.com/.

Another word puzzle could be to send a message in a foreign language and have the youth try to translate it. If you are like us and not fluent in another language, you can create your message by using a web-based translator like Altavista’s Babelfish web site: http://babelfish.altavista.com/.

Es una idea muy buena!

For the Little Ones: Decorating Your Faithkeepers Box

The Faithkeepers treasure box is more than a place to put things once a year and let them collect dust the rest of the year.  The treasure box is meant to be displayed where youth can be constantly reminded of their baptism and their connection to their faith.

One thing you can do to encourage your youth to make their Faithkeepers set special is to have them personalize the box. Think of it as a “canvas” to be decorated by the child, in his or her own way.  The photo shows an example that has been decorated with string, cloth, and other decorations.

While the result may not be what others consider a “work of art,” to your child it is a masterpiece that will get used over and over again.