A High Impact Resource for Fathers

Over the years, I have written about the personal impact that A Father’s Guide to Blessing His Children has had in my own family. You can read those testimonies herehere, and here. If I had to make a “Top Ten” list of biblical resources that have impacted my family, A Father’s Guide to Blessing His Children would be near the top. And the amazing thing is that it is not overly complicated, time-consuming, or financially costly. The nighttime blessing from their father was the “must-have” routine before my children would go to bed—no matter what had transpired during the day.

Listen to the heart of Pastor David Michael as he explains the purpose of this resource:

This booklet and the accompanying blessing cards have grown out of a heart and vision to encourage men to bless their households. Most Christian men understand that they are called to be spiritual leaders in their home, but not all have a clear idea of what that means. Part of the reason for this is that many of us grew up with fathers who were not good examples of spiritual leadership. In fact, for the past several generations men were more likely to assume spiritually passive roles in the home, thus abdicating both the physical and spiritual care of their children to their wives. The more troubled families and marriages I see, the more I am motivated and inspired to encourage men toward life-giving spiritual leadership in the home.

Although blessing his wife and children will not make a man a godly leader, I have found it to be a place where many men can begin. The discipline of blessing his children at bedtime can begin to give a man a sense that he is doing something spiritually significant for his children. It helps him to feel more like a leader and thus more likely to embrace the wider responsibility for the spiritual encouragement of his wife and children. It helps to build confidence when he sees God work through such a simple thing.

I invite you, dear brothers, to join me in being a blessing to our households. I urge my sisters to encourage and support their men in this vision for the faith and the joy of the next generation. 

Don’t miss out on this wonderful resource for your own family. Consider giving it as a Father’s Day gift. It also makes a wonderful gift to give to a father on the birth of a new baby. Tell your pastor about it and think about providing a copy to the fathers in your church. You can learn more about the booklet here.

 

Winners of God’s Design Drawing!

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Children Desiring God is happy to announce the two winners of our recent drawing for a free copy of God’s Design, the latest book in the Making HIM Known series. Our winners are:

Justine

and

Johanna

We will be contacting each of these two winners via email later today. Thank you to everyone who left a comment. We are grateful!

Children Can Work Hard, Too

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Children Can Work Hard, Too

My son got his first paying job when he was 4 years old. We had a little part-time family cleaning business to earn some extra income. My son’s job was to pull out staples from the carpet of an office we cleaned. He received 1 penny for every staple collected. On a good day he could earn $1.00—a lot of money for a 4-year-old back then. He has been working hard ever since…and so has our daughter.

Last week, we bought our 4-year-old grandson his own garden hoe. He spent almost an hour out in the garden with grandpa learning how to use the hoe to turn over the soil. He also has a little wheelbarrow he has used for helping uncle Jake clean the brush from the yard. At 4 years old, he is learning to work hard.

This all came to mind as I read Tim Challies’ post this Monday: “3 Priorities for Christian Parents.” It’s a short, good read. Before drawing our attention to these 3 priorities, he gives the following context:

I was recently reading through 1 Thessalonians and once again came to one of my favorite passages. In this letter Paul is addressing specific concerns raised by the congregation in Thessalonica. It seems that one of the matters they wanted him to address involved the simple question of Christian living: How do we live lives that are pleasing to God? How can we know that God is pleased with us? The most significant part of Paul’s response to the question comes in chapter 4.

It struck me as I read it: Isn’t this the question we ask for our children? How can they live lives that are pleasing to God? Isn’t that the dream and desire of every Christian parent, that their children will live lives that thrill God? In this section of his letter Paul provides three priorities. The priorities Paul offers to this first-century Christian church can be helpful to twenty-first century Christian parents.

Challies then points to these 3 priorities:

  1. the importance of sexual purity
  2. the priority of the local church
  3. the dignity of hard work

Here is some of what he says about the third priority:

Our children need to know that God created us to work and that there is dignity in all labor. Paul himself, though a pastor and scholar, an elite and intellectual, was unashamed to work with his own hands, to provide for his own needs. Paul knew this: Sin grows in the soil of idleness and a refusal to work displays a willingness to sin. He would undoubtedly agree with Spurgeon who said, “Idle people tempt the devil to tempt them.” Much of our children’s sin, especially as they grow older, can be traced to idleness, to long and lazy evenings, to an unwillingness to dedicate themselves to hard work.

In thinking about these priorities, I sometimes wonder if “the dignity of hard work” is sometimes overlooked in our parenting and in the church. We live in a parenting age that tends to cater to children’s needs—not that that is necessarily a bad thing in some sense—but we might forget that learning to “work hard” is one of their needs, too.

With that in mind, here is a book recommendation: Created for Work: Practical Insights for Young Men” by Bob Schultz. Here is a description:

All young men should be on the road to developing a healthy attitude toward work. Honest productive work is the backbone of strong families and blessed nations. Bob Schultz’s previous book, Boyhood and Beyond, addressed essential issues related to godly character as boys transition into manhood. In Created for Work he applies his engaging homespun wisdom, with stories from real life, to teach young men (and boys) what it means to be good workers. Created for Work inspires young men and offers the tools and encouragement they need to embrace God’s ways and always give an honest day’s work. Questions at the end of each chapter make Created for Work an excellent read-aloud book for a father and son or for group discussion.

 

 

Three Ds from Deuteronomy 6

Children Desiring God Blog // Three Ds in Deuteronomy

When it comes to understanding and articulating cultural shifts in light of biblical truth, Dr. Albert Mohler is a welcome source of clarity, exhortation, and encouragement. Joe Eaton has written a summary of Dr. Mohler’s message from our National Conference, which pointed to three Ds from Deuteronomy 6 that we, as parents and teachers, can take to heart. (Video of the conference keynote messages will be available later this summer.)

The dominant culture tends to replicate itself in each new generation. This is why Paul calls us to be transformed by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12). The last thing that should surprise us is that our children are going to grow up to look like the culture around them…unless a great work is done. Deuteronomy 6 tells us how we can influence our children biblically to remain steadfast in an ungodly culture. Three key words guide us through this text.

1. “Doctrine”
What this passage teaches us about how we must teach is that teaching must be inescapably theological and central. Another crucial aspect of teaching is what narrative you are teaching. We need to make sure that we teach our children that we are not here by accident; God did a saving work that brought us into being, and a saving work that brought us into covenant with him. This is the narrative we must teach. If we don’t know that our redemption story is infinitely greater than worldly stories, we will not effectively reach the hearts of our kids.

2. “Discipline”
We are facing a situation in which our children are going to become Canaanites if we don’t impart truth to them in such a way that helps them own it, and sometimes that will mean going against the culture or their own desires. Helping our children learn discipline in this way will serve them always.

3. “Diligence”
Every opportunity is an opportunity to teach your children, whether effectively or ineffectively. Don’t give up; you’re going to have to teach your children the same things very often, because your children don’t always retain things very well.

Children Desiring God Blog // Albert Mohler

Cultural Pressure to Conform
The cultural pressure to conform to the evils of our culture is so pervasive that Christians have begun to underestimate the urgency with which we ought to fight it. This pressure has always existed and has grown since the Garden of Eden.

Whole Counsel of God
We need to be teaching our kids that God is God, and his Word is ultimate no matter what our culture says. We need to be diligent to teach our kids the truths that are particularly disputed in our culture right now, because those are the truths that will become hardest for them to believe when they face cultural pressure to conform.

Holding Fast
Don’t spend time lamenting what we believe might have been lost in our culture. Remember that Jesus is going to hold us fast as we seek after him. Let’s hold fast our confession, and teach our children to do the same.

 

No Sitting This One Out + Free Giveaway

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Recently, I went with my daughter and four grandchildren to a local mall so the children could get their wiggles out on a cold and blistery day. While there, we encountered a bigger-than-life display at the store front of a popular bridal shop: two women dressed as brides for their wedding day…to each other. There, for all to see. In your face. This is your new world. Explain that to a 4-year-old! But that is just the beginning of the difficult things my grandchildren will increasingly encounter.

Here is a sad but urgent message from Todd Pruitt posted at “Mortification of Spin”:

As you can see, there is no sitting out this revolution. You will be made to care. The new revolution’s battle for our children’s minds and allegiance now has the formal support of the state. The culture war has been brought into the living rooms of every household. The report from the Obama Administration makes clear that any school which does not comply with the rules of the new sexual revolution will face the retaliation of the Federal Government.

The indispensable Rod Dreher issued the following words last evening:

“My government is the enemy of my church and my family. It has come to that. I figured it would one day. But not so soon”…

Sadly, the church has in too many cases equipped our young people with a facile “being Christian is fun” theology which will quickly wither and die under the heat of this new revolution.

(“Enemies of the State,” May 13, 2016)

There is truly no sitting this one out. Too much is at stake, namely God’s objective and absolute truth—especially Gospel truth. More than ever, the church and parents need to make an intentional, serious effort to prepare and equip our children and youth for this moral revolution. They will need a solid faith built upon the sure foundation of God’s Word, lived out with relentless confidence and joy through all of life’s circumstances. And that will require us to go way beyond “fun” in our classrooms.

First, here are two good resources to help clarify the impact of the Federal government’s recent directive to our nation’s public schools and the wider issues involved for our children and families:

Dr. Albert Mohler, “The Briefing – May 16”

Joe Carter, “Explainer: Federal Government Issues Letter on Transgender Policy to America’s Public Schools”

Second, if you have not done so, prayerfully consider using this CDG study for youth:

Rejoicing in God’s Good Design – A Study for Youth on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood

Third, I highly recommend parents using the new book God’s Design with your elementary-aged children. I just gave a copy of this to my daughter and son-in-law.

Fourth, Free Give-away!

Enter a comment of any length by Friday, May 20, and your name will be entered to receive a free copy of God’s Design. We will choose 2 winners at random and announce them on Wednesday May 25.

(Image courtesy of Boykung at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.)

20 Basics Young People Should Know

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Yesterday I recommended some summer reading for elementary-aged children. Today I have a summer challenge for youth—Wayne Grudem’s Christian Beliefs: Twenty Basics Every Christian Should Know. Why do I recommend this book for summer reading for your youth (age 16 and above)? Here are a few reasons:

  • It goes right to the core of Christianity by asking and answering the main questions. Questions like…

What Is the Bible?

What Is God like?

What Is man?

What Is sin?

Who Is Christ?

What Is the Atonement?

What Is Death?

What Is Heaven?

  • It is relatively short (158 pages) and is written in an accessible style that most high school-aged students can grasp.
  • Although some students might initially respond to the questions by saying, “I already know that!” Grudem provides even the more seasoned “theologian” something to think about and ponder.
  • There are questions for review and personal application at the end of each chapter.
  • It can serve to strengthen the faith and confidence of a true believer, but also challenge your children to carefully examine whether or not their faith is genuine—providing an opening for some honest spiritual discussions between parent and child.

With all the above to commend it to your young adults, it may require a little incentive to actually get them to read this over the summer months. As parents, we have a lot of means at our disposal to motivate our children. Consider reading it together, modeling structured study and discipleship. Maybe even plan a special event when the book is completed—going camping, fishing, or to a favorite sporting event.

Whatever the case, I highly recommend it. And it could also be the answer to “What should I give the high school graduate for a gift?” question that pops up this time of year.

Introducing Your Children to the Scope of the Bible

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When I taught first-grade Sunday school, we always taught the books of the Bible song in order to acquaint the children with the 66 books of the Bible. And, although they mastered the song by the end of the year, the great majority of children didn’t know much about Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai…etc. “What’s a Nahum?”

Besides being able to name the books of the Bible, do your children know the scope of the Bible—the main message, key events and people, and historical context of each of its 66 books? That may seem like a tall order, but it is an important goal if we are to teach our children the whole counsel of God. Dr. Bruce Ware emphasized this at our conference in April.

For adults, a good study Bible is especially helpful. But what about our children? Here is a resource parents can use with their elementary-aged children that could easily be a 10- to 15-minute daily Bible “enrichment” during the summer by examining Genesis through Revelation—one book per day, 6 days a week.

What the Bible Is All About for Young Explorers (Note: Although there is a newer edition available, I recommend this older edition. The newer edition contains the same basic information but includes an introduction that I would not recommend using with children.)

This book takes each individual book of the Bible and gives children the following information in simple outline form with age-appropriate graphics and illustrations:

  • Writer
  • Title of the book
  • Location
  • Main people
  • Outline of the book
  • Main events and when and where they happened

…and more interesting facts.

Please note that this book isn’t theologically deep. It doesn’t present children with the essential doctrines of the Christian faith in a systematic manner. While some key doctrines are introduced, they are not explored to any great depth…although man’s sin problem and our need for a Savior is woven throughout the book. It is still a great resource for children, providing them with a basic Bible survey that is a key element in acquainting them with the whole counsel of God.

The Vitality Magnet

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As a parent and teacher, I have often struggled with how to encourage my children and students to really “get it” regarding certain biblical truths and a vibrant life of faith. Yes, I fully believe that God is ultimately sovereign. But I also know that He uses means. What are the “means” He uses?

Here are some thought-provoking and heart-challenging words from Tedd and Margy Tripp:

The surest way to teach children to apply God’s truth to all of life’s circumstances is to model it for them. Parenting [and teaching] that exhibits a vital relationship with God in all the joys and storms of life is irresistible to children and young people. Conversely, the surest way to harden our children’s hearts to God and his ways is “having the form of godliness but denying its power” (2 Tim. 3:5).

Our homes are the laboratory of life for our children. They will believe that Christian faith is the genuine article if we know God—not just know about God. As children grow to young adulthood in our churches, they are searching desperately for a faith that has the warmth and vitality of close relationship with the living God, and the sure footing of sound doctrine that will stand the storms of life. Relationship with God is the passionate assurance that the Sovereign God of the Bible can be known by his people in all the experiences of life. Our relationship with God will beckon our children to draw near to him as their source of comfort and rest.

(from Instructing a Child’s Heart, copyright©2008, page 29)

(Image courtesy of khunaspix at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.)

 

 

Practical Ways to Connect Church and Home

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We say it often because we really want to emphasize it:

We strongly believe that God has ordained parents as the primary teachers and disciplers of their children. The church is to strengthen and assist parents in this mission (Deuteronomy 6:6-7). 

What this “looks” like in each local church may differ, but at the very least it requires some strategic intentionality and practical assistance on the part of the church. It doesn’t “just happen” by default. What might this entail? In the his seminar “The Parent-Church Connection,” Pastor Ron Rudd provided a list of practical ideas. To get started (and not feel overwhelmed), he encouraged children’s and youth ministry leaders to choose one to implement in the month ahead.

  • Equipping Parents—Make resources available to our parents to help them be more effective at the daunting task before them…Give your parents a handbook at the beginning of the year with your teaching calendar on it so they can be using that to reinforce what their children are learning at church. 
  • Supporting Parents—Consider ways that we can back them up and provide some much needed support for what they are trying to do. Ask your parents, “What do you feel you need from the church to help you in discipling your child?” 
  • Encouraging Parents—How can we encourage parents who are worn out, worn thin, or worn down? How do we encourage margin in our families? Ask questions about their families. Begin to know tidbits about who they are. Is their child involved in extracurricular activities? If so, what and how did they choose to be involved in these activities? Parents are generally exhausted. What can we do to refresh and renew them to spur them on to keep up the good fight for their kids? 
  • Informing Parents—Communicate often. Families need multiple points of contact to feel like they know you. Communication can be through newsletters, emails, social media, texts, or phone calls. Use these outlets to communicate general information about upcoming events, weekly Bible content, and memory verses, as well as family activities they can do at home. 
  • Pray for the Parents—Keep a journal to document things you know about them. This will not only help you remember names and various bits of information, but also help you have a record of items on your daily prayer list. The more you pray for them, the more you will desire to know them better. Ask God to give you opportunities to deepen relationships. 
  • Including Parents—Allow the parents to be a part of the planning. Help them know we value and respect them and their input. Provide parent focus groups with parents of children of different ages. Listen well and take good notes during these times. Look for ways you can implement a good idea. Respect is earned. Give the parents time to be heard. Respect requires an investment of time. 
  • Reminding Parents—Do we just expect parents to read the bulletin or website, or the flyers that we send home? We need to hear a message sometimes up to seven times before it actually sinks in, according to advertisers. Can you think of seven different ways to communicate an announcement you want your parents to know? 
  • Training Parents—Parents need training, not lectures. How can we show them how to be better parents rather than just telling them they need to be? Demonstrate how to use the tools in a parent tool box (parent manual, Fighter Verses, memory pack, etc.) Show them these things and demonstrate it for them. Have special classes for them.
  • Involving Parents—How can we make parents a key part of the programs we lead? Consider having a target number of your volunteers being parents. For example: 30% of our children’s ministry team consist of parents of our kids. Don’t be afraid to ask our parents and grandparents to serve in the ministry. If you have a relationship with them they are more likely to serve willing alongside you. 
  • Highlighting Parents—Make much of God! And in doing this remember how He lifts up parents in their high calling of training the next generation. Recognizing parents for their achievements as parents. Our culture beats up on parents. How can we elevate them in our ministry? 
  • Remembering Parents—When those great big plans for the church are being brain stormed, we need to be the one who is asking. “How will this affect our parents?” 
  • Defending Parents—When ministries forget the needs and concerns of parents, and leaders want parents to adapt or stay away, we may be the one who needs to stand in the path and defend their need to be accommodated or considered. 
  • Serving Parents—We often hear how more parents are needed to serve in the children’s ministry. How can the children’s ministry serve our parents? How can your SS class or club programs serve the parents? 
  • Loving Parents—Would our parents say they feel loved by our churches? 
  • Esteeming parents—Parents are an important part of the future of the church. They are the guardians of the next generation and ought to be esteemed as valuable players in the church’s strategy to impact the world. We are called to make disciples of all nations. The most effective strategy just might be to help the parents in our own churches in discipling their own children! Come alongside our parents and equip them in this charge.

(Image courtesy of arztsamui at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.)

More Important than an ACT or SAT

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Graduation is just around the corner for many of our young people—whether your own children or students in your church. Many of the high school graduates will soon be off to college armed with their completed ACT or SAT scores. Those tests are the big bridge that must be crossed in order to enter their desired school. Increasingly, parents have devoted a lot of time and effort in preparing their children for these tests. That’s not a bad thing…as long as it is seen within a proper perspective.

I wonder if we, as parents, sometimes need to be reminded of these words by President Theodore Roosevelt:

A thorough knowledge of the Bible is worth more than a college education.

Keep in mind: Theodore Roosevelt DID have a thorough college education. But he acknowledged that there was something more important—a thorough knowledge of the Bible.

So here is a question for parents and the church—How do you know if your children and students have a thorough knowledge of the Bible? Do you have any way to assess this? Is there a type of Bible ACT or SAT you use before they reach adulthood? (Please don’t misunderstand: I am not saying there is an academic type of assessment that is ultimate in determining true saving faith. But there is a minimal body of knowledge that needs to been known, understood, and embraced for true saving faith.)

This is a great question to ponder this summer. Along with that, here’s a challenge: What about parents and church working together to come up with some biblical literacy assessments to use with our children and students—at various ages—to provide some goals to aim for and a means to see if our students are meeting these goals? It could be that you and your church are already doing this. But my guess is that many are not, or could be doing better.

Do you have some examples of actually doing this? We’d love to hear from you! To get your creative juices flowing, you might want to look at these 39 questions that we believe our children and students should be able to answer by the time they reach adulthood.

(Image courtesy of Becris at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.)

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