Look It Up
"I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand is not the shepherd who owns the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me?just as the Father knows me and I know the Father?and I lay down my life for the sheep" (John:10:11-15).
Collect one large cotton ball for each family member. Write each person?s first initial on their cotton ball "lamb" with a marker. You?ll also need a picture of a shepherd. Use any picture of Jesus, a shepherd from your Nativity set or have your children draw a shepherd and cut out the picture.
Talk It Over
Week 1: The Sheep
Place each cotton ball lamb in front of its family member. Place the picture of the shepherd in the middle of your group. Talk together about what it means to you that the Good Shepherd knows you by name. As you talk, have each person put his or her lamb next to the shepherd. End your time by thanking God for loving each of you so much.
Week 2: The Shepherd
Place the shepherd and sheep together in the center of your group. Describe any "wolves" that came after you this week?temptations at school or work, family conflicts. Were there times where you felt afraid? What does it mean to you that the shepherd "lays down his life for the sheep?" As each person talks, have one parent move the shepherd next to that person?s lamb. End your time by asking Jesus to show you his protection in new ways.
Week 3: The Endangered Sheep
Place the shepherd and the sheep together in the middle of your group. Ask everyone to talk about a time when they trusted someone who turned out not to be trustworthy. As each person talks, have him or her move his or her lamb away from the shepherd. Then, have another family member softly call that person by name as you move the shepherd to that sheep and bring it back to the fold. End your time by thanking God for always seeking you out and bringing you back to him.
Week 4: The One Who Knows Us
Place the shepherd and sheep where they were for Week 2. What do you think God knows about you? Are there things you don?t want God to know about you? Ask each person to close his or her eyes as he or she silently gives those things to God. While everyone?s eyes are closed, have one parent take the shepherd figure and put it next to each person?s sheep, saying, "I am the good shepherd; and I know you (name), and (name), you know me." When you?re finished, thank God for knowing you and loving you so deeply.
"I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep" (John:10:11).
Karen L. Maudlin, Psy.D., is a licensed clinical psychologist specializing in family therapy. She also taught in a Montessori-based children?s worship program at her church. She and her family live in Illinois.
Encourage everyone in the family to act like sheep. Say, "bah, bah, bah" and wander around the house. Then have a parent be the shepherd and guide each sheep by name from one side of the room to the other. Ask "How does it feel to be guided? What are the ways you feel Jesus with you?"
Think about the sheep that sees the wolf coming to the fold. How would the sheep feel to see the hired hand run away, leaving them unprotected? How would they feel seeing Jesus, the Good Shepherd, protecting them from the wolf? Have your child write out the "Remember This" verse and memorize it this month. If he wants a challenge, have him memorize verses 14 and 15 as well.
Explain to your child that without a shepherd, sheep will follow each other off a cliff. Have your child think about times when she wandered away from the Good Shepherd. Ask her to think about the ways God brought her back to himself. Ask, "Who are the people in your life who help guide you down God?s path?"
If your family needs help following God right now, ask another family from your church or other close friends to help "shepherd" you through this time. Post the memory verse on your refrigerator and look at it as you learn to put your trust in God. Together, talk about ways you can encourage each other to follow the Good Shepherd.
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