A Great Resource for the Holiday Season + GIVEAWAY

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Thanksgiving is fast approaching, and soon on its heels will be Christmas. For me, these holidays are filled with nostalgia as I remember and continue to practice certain longstanding family traditions. But I must admit that many of these older family traditions are mainly culture-based. Oh, how I wished that we had developed some traditions with something greater in mind! That is why I have found Noel Piper’s book, Treasuring God in Our Traditions, to be so wonderfully refreshing. Here is a description from where the publisher, Crossway:

Treasuring God in Our Traditions presents the importance of passing along Christ-centered traditions and a Bible-saturated legacy in Christ to future generations. Noël Piper helps her readers recognize how the “everyday” routines of life and the “especially” celebrations of holidays and dates can be practically passed down to future generations. When parents and grandparents seek to pass along the treasure of God to their children and grandchildren, they will develop and deepen their love for him.

When family traditions are rooted in the Bible, the next generations will see that the greatest treasure that anyone can have is the treasure of God.

Not only would you benefit from this wonderful resource but it would also make a great Christmas gift for a family you love.

GIVEAWAY—Leave us a comment, and we will enter your name in a drawing for a free copy of Treasuring Christ in Our Traditions. Leave your comment by Wednesday, October 29. We will randomly select two winners and announce their names on Monday, November 3.

Will Their Ships Hold through the Storms?

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I am somewhat of a news junkie. I like to think that I keep up with what’s going on in the world and culture. But the past several weeks have been overwhelming. It seems as if society is on the fast-track toward destruction and despair: renewed war in the Middle East, Ebola, growing support for legalized same-sex “marriage,”…and we could go on and on. When I think of all of this, I am so thankful that I have been given a great gift: the comfort and confidence of knowing and trusting in the absolute sovereignty of God. But that gift of theological truth didn’t simply pop into my mind and heart—God used men who faithfully taught and preached the whole counsel of God to me. He used men who didn’t flinch from going deep and hard after big, difficult doctrines. Doctrines like these provide the ballast that holds the ship steady through the fiercest storms in life.

It is with this background that I thought about the children in our churches and, in particular, my own grandchildren. Are we effectively teaching them in a way that will provide ballast to withstand the storms that they will increasingly experience in life? As churches, are we devoted and ready to…

  • maximize our time on Sunday morning with serious, deep, age-appropriate study of the Word?
  • spend a significant amount of time praying and preparing to teach and lead the children in our care, knowing that we are involved in an endeavor that will bear eternal consequences?
  • implement a careful and intentional plan for presenting children the whole counsel of God by the time they reach adulthood?
  • boldly yet gently teach the “hard” truths, even if it means some will object?
  • swim against the popular tide of encouraging fun and entertainment over substance?
  • set a God-centered, Christ-exalting, Bible-saturated vision for the next generation that leads and guides all of our children’s and youth ministry structures, programs, and events?
  • equip parents to faithfully and daily disciple their children?
  • provide our children and students with the whole armor of God so that they will stand through the fiercest storms of life?

May God grant that these words from Ephesians 6:10-13 be true for the next generation:

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.

(Image courtesy of Salvatore Vuono at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.)

Four P’s for Encouraging Personal Bible Reading

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Are you struggling to incorporate daily Bible reading and personal devotions into your life? Is joy for God’s Word sometimes waning? Blogger Tim Challies had a recent post about the benefits of personal devotions and Bible reading. Not only is his post helpful for adults but the four P’s he states would be easy to communicate to the students and children in your life. Here is a summary of the four P’s found in Psalm 19 from his post:

David tells us that God’s Word is precious. David is king over his nation and has access to all of its wealth, yet he looks at it all and sees that it is nothing compared to the surpassing worth of God’s Word.

…God’s Word is pleasurable. I don’t think there is any natural substance more delicious than honey (though perhaps maple syrup could be a close contender), and yet David can proclaim that God’s Word is sweeter even than honey and the drippings of the honeycomb.

…God’s Word is protective. He knows that the wisdom of God revealed through his Word will warn him and protect him away from sin and its consequences. David can look at his life and see those times he did not heed the warnings and receive God’s protection, and now he knows: God protects us through his Word.

…God’s Word is profitable. The Word of God does not only warn, but it also profits. Those who heed God’s wisdom and obey his law receive all the benefits that come from walking with God. They receive the greatest reward of all: they are with God and in God today and every day.

Here’s his entire article, “A Great Reward.”

(Image courtesy of Naito8 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.)

IMPACT: Chicago – Early-Bird Registration Still Available

Children Desiring God Blog // IMPACT: Chicago Conference

Here are the top 4 reasons you should join Children Desiring God in Chicago for IMPACT: The Next Generation:

  1. Refreshment for you soul
  2. Life-changing teaching
  3. Encouragement in ministry
  4. Partnership development with others serving in children’s and youth ministry, pastors and parents

And, we have extended our early-bird pricing through October 22 so you can still experience this and so much more at a reduced rate.

  • Individuals: $50 per person
  • Couples: $75 per couple
  • Groups of 10 or more: $35 per person

Register online or by calling 877.400.1414 today to reserve your place at IMPACT: The Next Generation.

 

 

Parenting a Sinner into Sainthood

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Here are some words of wisdom from Sinclair Ferguson:,

In a world drifting on a sea of parental moral and spiritual confusion, the doctrine of the total depravity of our children is actually an important practical anchor. Parents who understand its significance recognize the divine wisdom in teaching the commandments of God, given as they are largely in negative form. God wrote them for sinners. They also recognize the importance of teaching God’s law in the context of God’s grace in Christ and through the Spirit. With Augustine we know that God will give what He commands.

God has not given us angels, but sinners to train to be saints. Since the situation is further complicated by the fact that parents are also sinners, we constantly need to rely on the teaching and directives of Scripture. While that is a subject all on its own, here are some simple guidelines.

Recognize that your children are miniature versions of yourself. Learn to think in terms of Adam and Christ, sin and grace. That itself will help you realize why God has given you the command not to exasperate your children.

In bringing up your children, do not commit child-idolatry (in which the one commandment is “never say no”) or self-idolatry (“he/she will reflect my glory”). Rather, by God’s promised grace, parent a sinner into sainthood.

… In times when there is grievous sin, never forget that there is more grace in Christ than there is sin in your heart and your child’s heart combined. In Christ there is a way back from the far country of a life style even for children who have given full expression to heart depravity.

(From “Little Innocents?,” February 1, 2001, www.banneroftruth.org)

(Photo courtesy of Khunaspix at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.)

Welcoming Missionary Children

This true story by Connie Oman serves as an important reminder:

While readying a classroom before Sunday school, I noticed a missionary family on home assignment. I hugged the mom and greeted the children saying how wonderful it was that they could be in Sunday school today.

The smiles disappeared from the children’s faces.

The mom told me she wasn’t sure about sending the kids to class since they were feeling uneasy.

I turned to the children and said, “In our classrooms we have pictures of your family. The children in your class know your face and your name, and they have been praying for you! They will be so happy to see you!”

Smiles reappeared on their sweet faces.

 The following Sunday, I saw the mom and inquired as to whether her children had attended Sunday school. She said, “Yes, and they loved it!”

What made the difference? The children in the class already knew them and had been praying for them. They were not strangers. This is such an important reminder for us! Continue Reading…

Helping Children Apply Truth

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I love this quote from Lou Priolo:

For the Christian, learning is not facts to be learned but truth to lived.

 (Teach Them Diligently: How to Use the Scriptures in Child Training, copyright©2000, page 21)

In her seminar, “Reaching the Heart”, Sally Michael expands on this thought:

Teaching that aims only at informing the intellect falls short of the potential we have to mold young hearts in response to God’s truth. Though knowledge of the truth is extremely important for faith to be born and to grow (Romans 10:17), children must act on the truth, appropriating it into their lives and walking in the truth.

Our parenting and classroom teaching should continually emphasize this goal → heart & life transformation. Apart from the work of the Holy Spirit, this will not happen. No matter how good our parenting or teaching, we are dependent on the sovereign grace of God. But God also works through means. As parents and teachers, we have a great responsibility and privilege to guide, encourage, and challenge young hearts in a right heart response to biblical truths. Continue Reading…

Children in Corporate Worship: Always, Never, or Maybe?

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Here’s a great reminder from pastor and blogger Kevin DeYoung from his post “History Helps Put Things in Perspective”:

I am strongly opposed to providing our kids with alternate worship experiences all the way through high school. They ought to be worshiping with adults, with their families, in “big” church, not having a special service tailored to their teen demographic.

Continue Reading…

Our Ambitions for Our Children

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I found the short article, “Ambitious for Your Children?” by David Campbell to be very helpful. It caused me to reflect on my own ambitions for my children, especially when they were young. In doing so, I wonder if I placed a burden on them that they were never meant to bear. Here is the conclusion of his article:

Our children, it is true to say, may have no great part to play in the unfolding history of the kingdom of God. No-one may write a biography of them after they are gone. They may never serve on the mission-field, never hold office in the church, they may have no outstanding gifts. But if they have a heart for God, serve him faithfully, have the courage to do the right, and are clothed in godly humility, they will be great in the Lord’s sight. And nothing counts for more than that!

Continue Reading…

Classroom Tip: Get There Early

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After more than 25 years in the classroom, this tip would be on my “Top 10 List” for effective teaching:

Arrive early to your classroom.

What do I mean by “early”? For me it meant arriving at least 15 minutes before the children arrived.  During that time, I would do things like…

Continue Reading…

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