Friday, September 20, 2013


The day Hannah had dreamed about all her life, and prayed for and wept for, finally arrived! For a long time, she had come to the tabernacle to ask God to give her a child. She had even promised that if God gave her a child, she would give him or her to God’s service. The priest Eli had thought Hannah was drunk, but when she explained why she was so upset, he had told her to go in peace. She had thanked him for his kindness and left.

Now, about nine months later, here she was holding a newborn baby in her arms! To thank God for hearing her prayer, she named the boy “God Has Heard”:


In Hebrew, “God has heard” is שְׁמוּאֵל (Shmuel), which sounds something like “Samuel.” He was a healthy baby boy, and Hannah was very thankful for this precious gift God had given her. She remembered her promise she had made to God, but she knew it wouldn’t be a good idea to take him to the tabernacle right away. It’s kinda hard for a priest to nurse a newborn baby. So when he was little, Hannah kept her new son at home and nursed him.

When Samuel was old enough, Hannah and her husband Elkanah took their son to the tabernacle. Hannah found Eli and said, “Remember a few years ago, when you saw me crying in the tabernacle, and you thought I was drunk? I told you I was very sad that God hadn’t given me any children, and I prayed for a son. Guess what! Here he is! I promised that when he was old enough, I would give him to God’s service, and now I’ve come to do what I promised I would do. For as long as he lives, he will be God’s servant.”

Then Hannah prayed. She told God, “You make me happy, and there is no God like you. You keep us safe, and You give things to people who are low and shame the people who brag. You bring down the strong, but you give strength to the weak. You give and take life. You make people rich or poor. You lift the homeless out of the dump and give them places of honor. You protect people who are loyal to You, but evil people will die in darkness. We can only win victories with Your help. Anyone who attacks You will be destroyed. You will judge the earth and give power to Your chosen king.”

After Hannah had prayed and they had said their goodbyes, Elkanah and Hannah went home, and they left Samuel to grow up in the tabernacle, under the able care of Eli. So Eli started to teach this young boy the way of God and had him do chores and lessons in the tabernacle. Eli was getting old, and he wasn’t in very good shape. In fact, he was a bit on the heavy side. So it was nice to have a young child around to help him out.

But Eli had a big problem. His sons Hophni and Phinehas were also priests, and they had a very bad habit. People would bring animals to the tabernacle to sacrifice to God, and they stole some of the meat for themselves! They sometimes didn’t even let people do the sacrifices right. God got very angry with Eli’s sons for the terrible and selfish thing they were doing.

As Samuel was growing up, his mother Hannah visited him regularly, and she would bring him clothes she had made for him. Every year, Eli would tell Hannah and Elkanah, “God gave you Samuel in answer to your prayers. I pray that God will give you more children to take his place.” God answered Eli’s prayer and gave Hannah three more sons and two daughters.

Eli was getting a lot of complaints about his sons’ behavior. Finally he had had enough with their shenanigans, and he went to them and said, “What are you thinking? Stop this horrible behavior! Hurting a person is one thing – you can always make up for it. But when you commit a crime against God, you’re playing with fire.” But they were so rebellious that they didn’t listen to their dad. And he let them keep stealing from God.

So God sent a prophet to Eli, who warned him that God had decided to put an end to Eli’s family. The prophet warned him that nobody in his family would live to an old age, and his family’s life would be sad. Someday soon his sons Hophni and Phinehas would both die on the same day, and God would raise up a new priest who would not be related to them, and who would help God’s chosen king.

By this time, Eli was nearly blind. God hardly ever spoke to people so they could actually hear Him. (That’s the same today. I’ve never heard God’s voice with my ears. I have to listen in other ways.)

One night, Samuel was sleeping on a mat in the tabernacle near the Ark of the Covenant, God's holy chest, when he heard a voice. "!שְׁמוּאֵל" (“Samuel!”)

He ran to Eli and said, “I’m here! What do you want?”

But Eli said, “I didn’t call you. Go back to bed.” So Samuel obeyed.

A little later, he heard it again. “Samuel!”

So he got up and went to Eli again. “Here I am! What do you want?”

Again, Eli said, “I didn’t call you. Go back to sleep.”

Now Samuel was starting to realize that he didn’t recognize this voice. It didn’t quite sound like Eli’s voice, but there was nobody else around that it could be. So when he heard his name again, he went to Eli and asked what he wanted.

Then Eli realized what was happening. So he told Samuel, “If you hear someone call your name again, stay in bed and say, ‘I’m listening, Lord. What do you want me to do?’”

So Samuel went back to bed. Pretty soon, he heard it again. “Samuel! Samuel!”

This time, he stayed in bed. “I’m listening,” he said. “What do You want me to do?”

So God said, “Samuel, something is about to happen that will shock everyone. Eli and his family will be punished for his sons’ behavior. Eli knew his sons were doing some terrible things, and he let them get away with it. I warned him about this, but he didn’t listen to how serious it was. His family has done too many disgusting things.”

Next morning, Samuel got up and opened the doors to the tabernacle. He was scared to tell Eli what he had heard. How would you feel if you had just heard that the people you love who raised you were in big trouble, and then they asked you about what you had heard?

The first thing Eli said in the morning when he saw Samuel was, “Samuel, my boy, come here!”

“Here I am,” Samuel said.

“What did God say to you?” Eli asked. “Tell me everything.”

So reluctantly, Samuel told Eli everything. Eli replied, “He is God. He will do what’s right.”

Samuel continued to grow up, and God blessed him. Everything Samuel said came true, and he earned a reputation for being God’s prophet.

As for Eli’s family, his sons Hophni and Phinehas were killed in battle by their enemies the Philistines. The Philistines also captured the Ark of the Covenant. When Eli found out that both his sons had been killed and the Ark was gone, the shock was too much for him. He fell backwards in his chair. He broke his neck in the fall and couldn’t get up. If he had lived a little longer, he could have met his new grandson. Phinehas’ wife was so upset about her husband’s death and the capture of the Ark that she named her son “No Glory”, or Ichabod.

What happened to the Ark? The Philistines put it in their temple to their god Dagon. Next morning, they discovered the statue of Dagon had fallen over! So they put it back. The following morning, they discovered the statue had not only fallen over, but had broken into several pieces! The Philistines could tell they had made Israel’s God very angry, and they sent the Ark back.

I wrote "Samuel" (Shmuel) on the whiteboard in Hebrew.

Sunday, September 1, 2013


I gave this lesson in the church service for all the children who were in the service.


We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God has prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:10

Maybe some of you know that I went back to school recently to learn how to make graphics on the computer. Remember how Mr. Butcher brought some of his tools two weeks ago? [Bob Butcher, a man in our church, gave the kids' lesson two weeks prior.] Does anyone remember what he brought? He brought a hard hat and a ladder that he uses when he works. I have different tools. To do what I learned to do, sometimes I use a paintbrush, and sometimes I use a computer and a mouse. Here’s a painting I made in one of my classes.

Le mont Rainier
Acrylic on canvas
© 2012 Steven Sauke

 Here is a cartoon I made after I learned how to do it on the computer.

"I'm Tired"
© 2013 Steven Sauke

I even made some people on the computer. Maybe you recognize this guy?

Aaron Olson
© 2012 Steven Sauke

Or you might know this person. He’s pretty cool.

Charlie Ostlie
© 2012 Steven Sauke

Or maybe you know this guy?

Self Portrait
© 2013 Steven Sauke

In the Bible, Paul said that we are God’s workmanship. Do you know what workmanship is? I just showed you some of mine. It’s something you make. God’s workmanship is you and you and you and you and you [pointing to each kid in turn] and me and everyone else! [indicating the congregation] My workmanship is my artwork. Mr. Butcher’s workmanship is houses and other things that he can build. [I picked up Le mont Rainier painting] What if I told this painting, “Go build a house!” Can it do it? Of course not! But Mr. Butcher can, and he is God’s workmanship. God’s workmanship is so much cooler than anything we can make. Houses can’t paint or make graphics, but I can, and I am God’s workmanship. Artwork isn’t made to build houses, and houses aren’t made to draw. Only God’s workmanship can do that. You and I are God’s workmanship! The Bible says that God has good works that He wants us to do, and that’s one of the reasons He made us. The next person we’re gonna see is a graphic I made of someone else that God made. I bet you haven’t met him. I know that because he died even before I was born!

Martin Luther King, Jr.
© 2013 Steven Sauke

This guy was a preacher a long time ago. 50 years ago, Dr. Martin Luther King gave a famous speech that helped people to understand something very important. He taught that we need to be nice to people, no matter what color their skin is. When he did his work, his tools were a pen and a microphone. He wrote and gave speeches and helped people to understand how much God loves everyone.

Near the end of his life, the apostle Paul told his friend Timothy, “I have fought well. I have finished the race, and I have been faithful. So a crown will be given to me for pleasing the Lord. He judges fairly, and on the day of judgment He will give a crown to me and to everyone else who wants Him to appear with power.”

The day before he died, Dr. King gave another speech. He didn’t know he would die the next day. He said, “I just want to do God’s will, and He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain, and I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight that we as a people will get to the Promised Land! And so I’m happy tonight. I’m not worried about anything. I’m not fearing any man! Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord!”

Both Paul and Dr. King knew that they had done the work that God wanted them to do. Paul tells us that God prepared that work for them to do. God has something special He wants you to do too. He is giving you things that you enjoy. He gave me an interest in art. He gave Mr. Butcher a love of building. He gave Paul and Dr. King a love of writing and speaking. What do you like to do? Can you use that to serve God? Think about it!

The Unknown God

The ancient Greeks had lots of gods. When the Romans conquered them, they liked them so much that they decided to keep them, but rename them. The Greeks prayed to Zeus, the king of gods, when there were storms, since he was in charge of the sky. He could send lightning and all kinds of stormy stuff. The Romans called him Jupiter. The Greek god Poseidon (or Neptune, as the Romans called him) was in charge of the sea, and if you got him mad, he could cause some major storms at sea. He was also the god of horses. (You may have heard of his son Triton?) Hades (or Pluto) was in charge of the ground and the underworld. The three of them were brothers and sons of the titan Kronos (or Saturn). To put it lightly, they didn’t have a good relationship with their dad. Kronos was the son of Ouranos (Uranus/Caelus), who was the god of the sky before Zeus. Ouranos’ wife was Gaia (Terra, which is Latin for “Earth”), the goddess of the earth before Hades. Hera (or Juno) was the goddess of women and marriage. Athena (or Minerva) was the goddess of wisdom and battle strategy. Hermes (Mercury) was the messenger of the gods. Ares (Mars) was the god of war. Aphrodite (Venus) likely had something to do with it if people fell in love. Dionysus (Bacchus) was the god of wine and parties, and Hephaestus (Vulcan) was in charge of forging metals. Artemis (Diana) was the goddess of the hunt, while her brother Apollo drove a chariot across the sky every day pulling the sun. Demeter (Ceres) made sure crops continued to grow. Those are just a few of the gods and goddesses the Greeks and Romans worshiped. As you can tell, they had gods for everything! They had to keep track of so many gods, that sometimes it got a little hard. Then they had another problem. What if the gods didn’t tell the humans of the existence of a god here or there? What if there was some situation where somebody had a problem, and they didn’t know about a god who could take care of that? They came up with a solution in the city of Athens, which was named for their goddess Athena.

Athens was known as a city of very smart people. They had the best university in the area, and people often met to discuss philosophy and other subjects. The Jews had the Pharisees and Sadducees, who didn’t always agree about everything, and were constantly arguing with each other. The Greeks also had two groups of philosophers. The Stoics believed that they needed to study and learn, and the more you knew, the less you would be affected by emotions and pain. The Epicureans taught that everyone needed to be happy! The groups liked to argue their different views with each other. These people were very smart, but they were missing something very important. Why bother keeping up with hundreds of false gods when there is only one true God, and He can do everything?!

Paul had come a long way since Jesus met him on the road to Damascus. He traveled all over the place in what is now Israel, Turkey and Greece, spreading Jesus’ message and founding churches along the way. (He would later make it to what is now Italy, and possibly Spain.) He wrote many letters to the churches, and as he traveled, he encountered many different cultures. He was careful to learn about the different cultures and explain Jesus’ message in ways they would understand. When he arrived in Athens, he looked around first. He was very sad to see the statues of Zeus, Poseidon and the rest. They had so many false gods who, in reality, couldn’t do squat for them! He also saw an altar that gave him an idea.

As Paul began to preach on a hill called the Areopagus (which means Mars Hill), the Athenians thought this was interesting and weird. What is this guy doing, telling us to worship foreign gods? Since they loved nothing more than a good debate, they took on this challenge. They asked him about what he was teaching. Why was he telling them to worship a new God they had never heard of?

Have you ever tried sharing Jesus with some of your friends by telling them that the way they worship (or don’t) is bad? If so, they probably didn’t respond too well. People were no different back then. Paul knew this, and he showed them respect. He didn’t criticize their gods. Instead, he tried another strategy. He got up and said, “I’ve been looking around your city, and I can see that you guys are very religious. You have gods for everything. I even noticed you have an altar that says “TO AN UNKNOWN GOD” on it! That tells me you don’t know what you’re worshipping, so guess what! I’m gonna tell you about this unknown God! This God made the skies and the earth, and He doesn’t live in temples that humans have built. He gives life, breath, and everything else. He made humans, all descended from one man. He made the earth, and He allowed humans to spread all over it. He’s in charge of history and the boundaries of lands. That way, we will look for Him. It’s like the Greek philosopher Epimenides said, ‘In him we live and move and have our being.’ Or like the Stoic poet Aratus wrote, ‘We are his offspring.’

“Since we are God’s offspring, that means we can’t assume that God is anything like gold, silver or stone, or anything that humans have made. In the past, God gave ignorance like that a pass, but now He wants everyone to repent. One day He will come and judge the world, with justice by the one He assigned to do that. He proved that by raising this man from the dead!”

At that, some people decided he was crazy. Who could raise a human from the dead? But others said, “Tell us more!” Dionysius, a member of the Areopagus, and a woman named Damaris, were among the many people who believed that day.

So it was that Jesus’ message spread to Athens, the capital of Greece. He brought a new agape, to rival the “love” they knew from their god Eros, who the Romans called Cupid.


Following is the PowerPoint presentation that I did. I went through the slides of the gods fairly quickly.