Why are we not perfect?

Update 26 Dec 2014: The podcast links for BLASTcast in 2009 are unfortunately broken due to a server change. 🙁

(If you’re looking for our podcast recording from December 6th, this is it! Please be sure to SUBSCRIBE to our blog to receive email updates, using the form in the right sidebar of our BLASTcast blog. Cross-posted to BLASTcast.)

Today in our 5th grade Sunday School class we continued our unit of study focusing on the question, “What is the point?” We talked about how there are so many images and themes all around us at Christmastime, but often VERY few of these have to do with Jesus and his birth! We listened to the free Pandora Internet Radio Channel “Peaceful Holidays” and viewed some secular holiday images/themes represented in the Flickr Group, “A Very Flickr Christmas.” (There are over 50,000 shared Christmas photos in this group, and none of the ones we saw had anything to do with Jesus, his birth, the church, or Christianity!)

We discussed whether or not it is a sin to be “tempted,” and Matthew 4:1-11 (New International Version) when Jesus was tempted in the desert by the devil. We talked about how it is not a sin to be tempted, but our actions and choices determine whether or not we sin when we face temptation. While Jesus WAS tempted, he did not give in to temptation and always responded to temptation with the “sword of the spirit:” God’s word.

We next listened to our podcast recording from class two weeks ago, when we considered the question, “Why Did God Create Me?” We played images from the Flickr Creative Commons image search for “nativity Christmas” as we listened to our five minute podcast, and then discussed some of the “answers” we heard our classmates share during that audio recording.

We played a game of tag that proved to be very challenging because of the difficult rules we had to follow, and then talked about how that game connects to our theme today, “Why are we not perfect?” We then broke into three groups for a jigzaw activity. Each group read and discussed one of the following verses, discussing how it applied or related to our question, “Why are we not perfect?”

  1. Genesis 1:26-27; Genesis 1:31 (New International Version)
  2. Psalm 139:13-16 (New International Version)
  3. Romans 8:35-39 (New International Version)

Finally, we recorded a seven minute podcast, discussing these verses and how they apply to our theme, “Why are we not perfect?” Please listen to our podcast and share feedback as comments on this post.

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Why did God create me? (Lesson intro and class podcast)

Cross-posted to the BLASTcast blog.

This morning in our 5th grade Sunday school class we started a new unit with the theme, “Why did God Create Me?” We read and discussed the following verses:

Ephesians 2:10
Psalm 139: 1-12
Romans 5:8-11

We recorded a five minute podcast in class (unfortunately no longer available online due to server changes), sharing these verses and some of our own ideas about what they mean in the context of God’s purposes for our lives. It is important to think about these ideas as we celebrate Thanksgiving here in the United States this week, and as we move into the month of December to celebrate Christmas.

We started off our lesson today talking about the following advertisement I saw at Pier 1 this weekend, and what the advertisers might be saying “our purpose” is in the world.

Sleigh Bells Ring, Are You Gifting?

God HAS made us to share our gifts with each other, but he has made us for so much more than to just buy things! He has made us to love him, to worship, and to be his hands and feet on earth. We are called to do his good works each day of our lives.

In December, we’ll be discussing questions like:

How Come I’m Not Perfect?
Why Didn’t God Make Us Like Robots?
What Does God Want from Me?

Next week (Sunday, November 29th) we will meet in Creation Station to make advent wreaths along with other elementary students. In December we’ll be back in our “normal” classroom for Sunday school.

If you have comments and feedback for our 5th graders on their podcast or on any of the ideas we’ve shared here, please leave a comment here on this post! Thanks for visiting our blog and listening to our podcast. We’d love to hear from you, and will share comments / feedback we receive here during class.

Here are some additional photos from our brainstorming, discussions, and prayer time today.

Key verses for today

Prayer concerns today

Elgg learning community for 5th grade Sunday School created

I’m going to be teaching 5th grade Sunday School this year at our church for a third year, and this time around I think we’re going to try using a walled-garden learning community website powered by the open source platform Elgg. Last year we tried using Moodle, but that didn’t work really well. Parents had lots of trouble logging in, and I wasn’t pleased that students didn’t have their own “profile pages” like they do on other social networking sites and couldn’t “friend” each other. The first year I taught the class we were going to use Imbee, but didn’t, and ended up trying to use the Grapple-provided website which was really just an online bulletin board powered (I think) by phpBB. It wasn’t a learning community or a social network, and it wasn’t engaging for the kids– it was basically a flop. I’m hoping to change that this year. Last year when Moodle didn’t work I switched to just using a blog to share updates with parents as well as media we created, but I don’t think that was really very successful either, in terms of reaching many parents. I should have surveyed them at the end of the year, but I didn’t.

One of my main goals in setting up our Elgg learning community is to keep parents in the loop, and encourage both students and parents to discuss what we talk about / learn about in class each week when they go home. I was enthused to find an Elgg plug-in tonight that supports prayer requests and praises (Kneemail) and am activating that on our site now.

I’m looking forward to hopefully learning more about Elgg in the weeks and months ahead. Our church is rolling out a new website in about a week that is supposed to have more social networking / learning community support built into it, and I’m supposed to learn more about that from our outgoing webmaster / communications director at the end of the month. There’s a chance we could use that new church website for our 5th graders, but I’m thinking I’ll go with Elgg since I’ve heard great things about this platform for youth learning communities (mainly from Jim Klein) and am looking forward to the opportunity to learn more about Elgg through this use of it for 5th grade Sunday School! I’ll post more about my learning here during the year. I’ve joined the “Elgg’s “Walled Gardeners” group” and I’m sure I’ll find lots of ideas and support there for this effort!

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Praying Boldly and Persistently

According to the current entry in the English Wiktionary, a “podfader” is:

A podcaster who gradually or suddenly stops podcasting.

Last fall I helped create several podcasts for our elementary Wednesday night program at our church in Edmond, Oklahoma, and started the BLASTcast blog and podcast channel. Since our last published podcast (until today) was on Christmas Eve, I’m sure some people might have relegated us to the category of “podfaders.” Fear not! Today we’ve published a new (albeit short – just 4 minute) podcast titled “BLASTCAST: Pray Boldly and Persistently” focusing on Luke 11: 9-10:

So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.

GDOP - Global Day of Prayer - Upper Hutt City - 131

This theme is important for all of us. Amidst the noise of information and inputs from multiple directions in our lives, we need to continue praying each day with boldness. The English Wiktionary includes the synonyms “brave, courageous, and daring” in its entry for “bold.”

It defines brave as:

Strong in the face of fear.

It defines courageous as:

Of a person, displaying or possessing courage.

And courage as:

the quality of a confident character not to be afraid or intimidated easily but without being incautious or inconsiderate.

as well as:

the ability to do things which one finds frightening.

It defines daring as:

Willing to take on or look for risks.

Persistent is:

Obstinately refusing to give up or let go, insistently repetitive, and indefinitely continuous.

I need this encouragement and reminder of how and why we are to pray: With boldness and persistence. As the father of three I can easily relate to Jesus’ closing words in this passage:

Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion?

Just as we, as parents, want to give our children the desires of their hearts, so also does our heavenly Father listen to us and desire to give us those things which we want and are good for us.

The kids had fun creating this short podcast this morning in Sunday School. It’s amazing what a simple yet powerful learning recipe ACTIVE, CREATIVE learning lessons can be. 🙂

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Podcast7: 10 year old reflections about Jesus on Christmas Eve

Our 5th grade Sunday School class of 10 and 11 year old students recorded a seven minute podcast today, which is going to be played during our family Christmas Eve service at church this year.


This podcast is available in several formats:

  1. As an audio-only mp3 file
  2. As an enhanced podcast (requires free QuickTime Player software or iTunes software)
  3. As a YouTube video (published later in 2010)
  4. As a VoiceThread digital story


You are welcome to leave feedback for our students on the VoiceThread or here as comments. Merry Christmas!

5th Graders speak: “Who Is Jesus?”

5th grade students in the Sunday school class I’m co-teaching this semester contributed to this four minute audio podcast on the theme, “Who Is Jesus?” Some of these recordings were made during our Sunday school class last week using Audacity and an external microphone, but most were made by students and teachers from home using their phones and the free Gabcast service.

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