Open My Eyes: Contest Winner

Open My Eyes Classroom KitThank you to everyone who participated in our August 19 contest to win a free Classroom Kit of our new youth curriculum, Open My Eyes: A Study for Youth on Studying the Bible. It was so encouraging to read how you have pursued studying the Bible…both the easier and harder to understand books.

The winner of our contest, chosen at “random” (but by God’s sovereign hand) is…Tim C!

If you would like to learn more about inductive Bible study, The Inductive Bible Study Handbook, is a great, new resource for students and adults that walks through the 4 key steps to studying your Bible along with practical tips. The handbook can be used with or without the Open My Eyes study.

 

Interview with Sally Michael

Credo magazine coverIn the current issue of CREDO magazine, “Let the Children Come to Jesus,” Matthew Barrett has an informative interview with Sally Michael. Here are some of the questions he posed to her:

  • What makes a good children’s book?
  • What is the number one mistake churches make when structuring and developing a children’s Sunday school curriculum for the first time?
  • What are the benefits of parents teaching their children not only the Bible’s story but the doctrines of the Christian faith?
  • How do you incorporate the gospel message in your parenting?

You can read the interview here (starting at page 14).

God’s Rules and Biblical Balance

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In the past, children’s Bible resources were often marked by “moralism,” whereby the end goal was to produce outwardly “good little boys and girls.” But what these resources often inadvertently encouraged was faithless little boys and girls, working hard in a futile effort to earn a right standing before God by keeping His rules. Hopefully, the church and parents have done away with using these kinds of resources. However, let’s be careful not to swing the pendulum to the other extreme: Bible resources that minimize God’s rules or see them in a negative manner. Pastor Burk Parsons offers a great call to a biblical balance in this regard:

I have heard people say that the Bible is just a list of do’s and don’ts. People who say that have not read the Bible. In order to combat this sort of thinking, some Christians will quickly respond by arguing that the Bible is not a list of do’s and don’ts at all. But when they do that, they throw out the baby with the bath water. Those who have read the Bible will know that it is not just a list of do’s and don’ts, nor simply a how-to manual, nor a mere guide for moral living.

Nevertheless, the Bible does in fact tell us what to do and what not to do. It tells us how to live moral lives that please God, and it provides us with God’s rules for all of life. The Bible is not just a list of do’s and don’ts, it’s far more than that—it is God’s grand story of His reign and redemption. Nevertheless, it does indeed contain God’s lists of do’s and don’ts that we might know how to love, obey, glorify, and enjoy God.

Christianity is not a religion of moralism, it is a gospel religion of grace. It is a religion established on a relationship. It’s not either/or, it’s both—a relationship and a religion. They are not mutually exclusive, and we do well not to pit one against the other.

 (from “Gospel Religion” at www.ligonier.org )

Read the entire article here.

(Image courtesy of Kittisak at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.)

Arm them with the Gospel

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One of the great privileges of teaching or leading a small group is the many opportunities to share the Gospel with children. But we often make an assumption that our children’s ministry volunteers are well taught and articulate in the “what” and “how” in communicating the Gospel to children. I know that, for myself, I had to unlearn many unbiblical notions concerning the Gospel. How so? I came to faith during the popular “born again” movement that was often marked by a shallow and skewed view of who God is, man’s condition, and the redeeming work of Christ. So when I first became a Sunday school teacher, many of those misunderstandings of the Gospel marked my interaction with the children. And even after I received solid biblical teaching concerning the Gospel, I then had to learn how to communicate it in a manner that was biblical yet child-friendly.

Therefore, let’s be proactive in helping our children’s ministry volunteers understand and properly articulate the Gospel to the children in their classrooms. One helpful tool that your church could provide to all teachers and small group leaders is our resource, Helping Children to Understand the Gospel. There are affordable options for churches wanting to buy this resource in bulk, both in print or electronic form.

Another option is a the free resource, “Presenting the Gospel to Children,” an audio seminar with an accompanying handout and PowerPoint presentation.

(Image courtesy of Naypong at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.)

The Why and What of a Christian Education

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Dr. Albert Mohler makes a great case for why our children and students need a distinctly Christian education of the mind:

Christianity recognizes and affirms the importance of the intellect. The life of the mind is understood to be a central issue of Christian discipleship. The Christian is not only to live in obedience to Christ, but is also to serve Christ through the development of a distinctively Christian mind.

All too many Christians ignore the intellectual component of discipleship. This tragic reality betrays a misunderstanding of the gospel, for the gospel of Jesus Christ requires cognitive understanding. In other words, there is a knowledge that is central to the Christian faith. As the apostle Paul makes clear in Romans 10, faith comes by hearing, and that faith is established upon truth claims that are nonnegotiable and necessary for salvation.

Christian faithfulness requires the development of the believer’s intellectual capacities in order that we may understand the Christian faith, develop habits of Christian thought, form intuitions that are based upon biblical truth, and live in faithfulness to all that Christ teaches. This is no easy task, to be sure. Just as Christian discipleship requires growth and development, intellectual faithfulness requires a lifetime of devoted study, consecrated thinking, and analytical reflection.

(From, “The Glory of God in the Life of the Mind ” at www.albertmohler.com )

So …

• Your children and youth attend Sunday school regularly. They are receiving a Christian education.
• You send your children to a private school. They are receiving a Christian education.
• You home school. Your children receiving a Christian education.

The obvious assumption is that all of the above options provide your children and students with a Christian education. But what does Christian education actually look like? What measure and standards would be used to access whether their education is truly “Christian”?

Justin Taylor has written a very instructive and helpful article in this regard, “The Great Vision of Christian Education—Ten Foundational Truths.” I highly commend this article to parents, teachers, and children’s and youth ministry leaders. Here is his overarching premise:

Christian education is as big as God and his revelation. It goes beyond parenting and teachers and classroom instruction to infuse every aspect of the Christian life. It involves not merely donning gospel-centered glasses when we study “spiritual” subjects, but being filled by the very presence of almighty God as we seek by his Spirit to interpret all of reality in light of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

(Image courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.)

A Look Inside: Open My Eyes, Part 4

Open My Eyes

Today is the final day we are taking an inside look at the themes found in Open My Eyes, our new curriculum for senior high students on studying the Bible.

  1. The need to study the Bible
  2. Understanding the genres of Biblical literature
  3. Learning inductive Bible study skills
  4. Responding to God in faith from the heart

The final five lessons of Open My Eyes focus on presenting the work of the Word in salvation and presenting the Gospel message. Students will put into practice the different inductive Bible study techniques they have learned as they look at Scripture to discover these truths.

The Word of God is effective in penetrating man’s heart and brings salvation when it is received in faith by those who have not hardened their hearts. Believers need to strive to enter God’s rest as they diligently hear, accept and respond to God’s Word.

Open My Eyes VisualAlthough we are instructed to strive to believe, John recorded the two responses people have to Jesus—acceptance or rejection. As students examine the responses of the “many”, Nicodemus, the scribes and the Pharisees, they are reminded that saving faith can only come as a result of the work of the Holy Spirit in bringing about new birth.

Open My Eyes VisualOur responses are not always what they should be, but God mercifully withholds judgment and extends His grace towards men to give them the opportunity to repent. As youth interpret the Parable of the Barren Fig Tree, they learn the difference between presumption and repentance, the purpose of God’s kindness, the consequence of a failure to repent and the righteousness of God’s judgment.

Open My Eyes VisualThe process of salvation begins with election, and moves through the Gospel call, regeneration, conversion (repentance and faith), justification and adoption. Jesus accepts all who come to him, and for those who respond to God’s call to salvation, He is at work in their lives. Students will look at the responses of the two thieves who were crucified with Jesus along with the context of the historical narrative around it.

Open My Eyes VisualThe final lesson of Open My Eyes concludes with the truth that God’s words are sweet to those who have a close relationship with Him. God’s promise of either blessing or curse in Deuteronomy 30:15-18, and the conditions for each, are illustrated as fulfilled in the life of Jeremiah and his fulfilled prophecy concerning Judah’s destruction. Through examining various texts, students are shown that God keeps His Word and that God’s Word sustains His people in the midst of difficulty and trial. Youth are encouraged to examine their heart attitude toward the Word of God.

Learn More About Open My Eyes

Open My Eyes Classroom KitBe sure to enter our contest to win a free copy of the Open My Eyes Classroom Kit. To enter, visit the contest post and leave a comment as directed.

If you would like to learn more about Open My Eyes, view the Curriculum Sample or place an order for your own copy of the study.

What are you most excited to teach the senior high students in your church about studying the Bible? Feel free to share in a comment below or ask any questions you have about Open My Eyes!

 

 

A Look Inside: Open My Eyes, Part 3

Open My Eyes

Open My Eyes is our brand new study for youth on studying the Bible and we are so excited to be hosting an Open My Eyes Classroom Kit Giveaway! We would love to you all but enter the contest, but why should you bother? This week we are looking at the truths taught in Open My Eyes and why it is important for teenagers to learn these lifelong skills. The study focuses on these four themes:

  1. The need to study the Bible
  2. Understanding the genres of Biblical literature
  3. Learning inductive Bible study skills
  4. Responding to God in faith from the heart

The main section of lessons in Open My Eyes looks at the genres of Biblical literature, which we discussed yesterday, and teaches the four steps of inductive Bible studies. Open My Eyes is not an exhaustive training of all inductive study methods, but rather it provides a foundation for students that can be used in any personal or formal Bible study.

1. Reading

The first step is to read the Bible. Students are encouraged to regularly read their Bible with purpose. Through careful reading and recording their thoughts and questions, they will be able to get to know God better.

2. Observing

Fifteen lessons in Open My Eyes teach youth the techniques God has given us to use that are helpful in understanding the Bible. Although the first step to good Bible reading and study is always prayer, these techniques enables students to dig deeper into the passages, analyze the context and discover the author’s intended meaning. Techniques include:

  • Open My Eyes VisualAsking questions while purposely and actively approaching a text.
  • Looking at the historical setting of the book and the customs of the time.
  • Exploring the immediate literary context of words, looking at the sentence, paragraph, chapter, book and the Bible as a whole to understand the author’s intended meaning.
  • Open My Eyes VisualUnderstanding that grammar matters. Students learn how to mark up a passage, identifying nouns, pronouns, verbs and adjectives in order to determine the meaning of the verses.
  • Biblical writers employed the literary techniques to add strength to their words. Repetition establishes a theme, listing groups thoughts and rhetorical questions add emphasis.
  • Open My Eyes VisualFigurative language in the Bible communicates spiritual truth powerfully to our hearts, but it must be handled carefully. Youth discover how similes, metaphors, personification, anthropomorphism and hyperbole emphasize key points, communicate truth in a known context and create an emotional response.
  • Identifying classifying statements and independent and dependent clauses encourages application.
  • Finding connecting words and tying together thoughts throughout a passage can unlock the meaning of a text.
  • Open My Eyes VisualObserving logical connections and learning to follow the author’s flow of thought helps youth understand passages.
  • A passage must be understood in the broader literary and theological contexts of its chapter and book, of the whole Bible, and of man’s fallen condition and redemption.
  • To understand the author’s intent and flow of thought, it is important to observe the structure of the text. Student will learn to look for transition markers to break the text into passages, and then to find the main point of the passages.
  • Open My Eyes VisualTo correctly understand a passage, it is important to observe the connections, check the context and follow the author’s flow of thought through the use of mapping.
  • Outlining a passage is another useful tool students will use to understand the author’s flow of thought.

 

3. Interpreting

Open My Eyes VisualsThe Bible is a spiritual book and must be spiritually understood through the illumination of the Holy Spirit. In addition, God has given us sound principles of interpretation to help us rightly interpret the Bible and avoid falling into error. Student start by examining Psalm 25:5 to find several keys to interpretation, then they are taught and practice a series of interpretation principles. These Biblical principles are deduced from Scripture and are applicable to all people, in all cultures, at all times. The most important one is to use the Bible to interpret the Bible.

4. Applying

Open My Eyes VisualUnderstanding the Bible will not make much difference in students’ lives if they do not discover how God wants them to respond to the Scriptures using life application questions. Youth will be challenged to plan practical actions steps they can take and ask the questions: What should I think? What should I be? What should I do?

The Inductive Bible Study Handbook

The Inductive Bible Study HandbookStudents are encouraged to practice these skills both in the classroom using the Student In-Class Notebook and during the week with the Student At-Home Journal. With so much to learn, The Inductive Bible Study Handbook is a wonderful reference tool that walks through the four steps of inductive Bible study in an easy to understand way. It is an essential tool for students going through Open My Eyes to reinforce what they are learning. It can also be used by anyone wanting to strengthen their study skills for personal study or other Bible studies.

Start teaching these truths to your youth!

We are giving away a free copy of the Open My Eye Classroom Kit. Be sure to visit our contest post and leave a comment there to enter.

If you would like to learn more about Open My Eyes, view the Curriculum Sample or place an order for your own copy of the study.

 

Win an Open My Eyes Classroom Kit!

 Open My Eyes Classroom Kit

 

How many parents and youth ministers are eager to strive toward this goal for your students?

We need an education that puts the highest premium under God on knowing the meaning of God’s Book, and growing in the abilities that will unlock its riches for a lifetime.

John Piper, “A Compelling Reason for Rigorous Training of the Mind,” © 2015 Desiring God Foundation, www.desiringgod.org
Our newly released curriculum, Open My Eyes: A Study for Youth on Studying the Bible, was specifically designed to help your students grow in their ability to unlock the riches of God’s Book by teaching them Bible study skills. Here is a description:
Treasures are not for the fainthearted, and Bible study is hard work. But prayer, careful reading, and meditation, combined with good Bible study skills, produce a bountiful harvest of truth and understanding. Open My Eyes is a curriculum for senior high youth on how to study the Bible. It focuses on the different genres of biblical literature and the process of inductive Bible study, and provides opportunities to practice the skills of observation, interpretation, and application. The end goal is that students might understand God’s Word as the biblical authors intended, and begin a life-long journey of learning to know and treasure God through studying and applying His Word to their everyday lives.
We would love to share the blessing of this resource with a church, home school, Christian school, or missionary family by giving away an Open My Eyes Classroom Kit, including:
  • a Teacher’s Guide
  • a Resources DVD
  • one Student In-Class Notebook
  • one Student At-Home Journal
  • and one Inductive Bible Study Handbook

This is a combined value of up to $140.00. Contest open to readers over 18 years of age, except where prohibited by law. If the winner is located in the United States, he or she may choose from an Open My Eyes Print Classroom Kit (3-Ring or Spiral Bound) or Electronic Classroom Kit. International entrants are eligible to win an Electronic Open My Eyes Classroom Kit. The winner will be chosen at random and announced by Monday, August 31.

To enter this drawing, please leave a comment by Wednesday, August 26 about one of the most interesting or challenging books you have studied in the Bible. 

A Look Inside: Open My Eyes, Part 2

Open My Eyes

Open My Eyes, our newly released study for youth teaches youth the lifelong skill of studying the Bible. The curriculum focuses on four keys themes, which we are looking at this week:

  1. The need to study the Bible
  2. Understanding the genres of Biblical literature
  3. Learning inductive Bible study skills
  4. Responding to God in faith from the heart

The main section of lessons in Open My Eyes varies between discovering the genres of Biblical literature and learning practical inductive Bible study skills. This gives students extra time to learn new skills before introducing the next one.

Open My Eyes VisualsIf you do not consider the literary context the verses in the Bible are presented in, you may be very confused. There is a great difference between historical narratives and parables, letters and poetry. To correctly interpret a Bible passage, students need to learn to understand the author’s intended meaning through exploring the context. Christians can be deceived in their understanding of the Word if they do not carefully study the Bible.

Open My Eyes gives students an overview of nine genres of Biblical literature to equip them in understanding the context.

Genres of Biblical Literature Continue Reading…

Preparing Young People for Baptism

Baptism is a significant act of obedience in the life of a believer. Pastor David Michael is eager to equip the church to responsibly oversee the ordinance of baptism for young people without usurping the privilege of spiritual leadership God has given to parents.

To that end, he developed a resource consisting of the following two booklets to help churches and parents partner together as they faithfully prepare a young person to follow the Lord in the obedience of baptism and to become a covenant member of a local church:

CHBMEP

Mentor’s Guide
Designed for parents and mentors (especially fathers), this booklet outlines a process, objectives, and sessions to a lead a young person through the meaningful process of baptism preparation. A companion Pastor’s Supplement places the Mentor’s Guide in the framework of a church-sponsored process of preparing young people for baptism. English Standard Version

 

 

CHBPEP

Pastor’s Supplement
Designed for Pastors, this booklet outlines a process and objectives that the church can use to equip parents and mentors to lead a young person through a meaningful process of baptism preparation. A CD is included with 15 forms (Word® document) that can be adapted and used within your own church. A companion Mentor’s Guide is also available for parents or mentors who are shepherding a young person through this process.

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