Archive - April, 2013

True Saving Faith—When is a Child Ready?

Back during Holy Week, we highlighted the message of the Cross and the glorious Gospel of Jesus . We also noted CDG’s resource Helping Children to Understand the Gospel. In this booklet, we outline 10 essential Gospel truths we believe children should be taught. But it’s also crucial to recognize a child’s spiritual readiness to actually embrace true, saving faith. Is there any way that we as parents and teachers can discern whether or not our children are genuinely understanding and embracing the Gospel, and not merely acknowledging the facts? In his excellent book The Faith of a Child: A Step-by-Step Guide to Salvation for Your Child, Art Murphy says the following: (more…)

“The _______ of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom;”

Most of us are familiar with these words from Psalm 111:10 and know that the missing word is “fear.”  But what comes to mind when we read “The fear of the LORD”? Or think about Psalm 96:9 where the psalmist says “Worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness; tremble before him, all the earth!” (ESV)

Fear the Lord and tremble before Him.  Are we teaching our children and youth these truths? Are we rightly defining what these truths mean and why they are important? (more…)

Looking for Opportunities to Help Nurture Your Youth?

In his book, Age of Opportunity: A Biblical Guide to Parenting Teens, Paul David Tripp challenges us to look at the teen years in a new way, (more…)

Learning at 5 and 55

Last fall I needed two maroon buttons for a jumper I was sewing for my 5-year-old granddaughter, Anna. I went with her and her mother to the one fabric store in St. John’s, Newfoundland to look for these buttons, only to find it had already closed for the day. Later, as I was waiting in the car with Anna while her mother ran another errand, Anna asked me, “Grandma, was it a good thing that the fabric store was closed?”

“No, Anna. It wasn’t a good thing. Now we have to come back tomorrow to get the buttons for your jumper.” (Bad answer.)

Evidently she stopped to consider that, because a minute or two later, Anna commented, “Grandma, I kind of think that it was a good thing that the store was closed…because God made the store be closed…and everything God does is good and right.” (Good answer.) (more…)

Contest Winners from April 5th

Here are testimonies from our Friday April 5 contest regarding seeing God’s good design in children (and adults) with disabilities. May God be pleased to multiply these kinds of testimonies in our churches for His glory and our joy!

Ben – I have seen the incredible work of a man in our church who is much slower mentally, but his heart is so in line with loving Jesus. His acts of kinds, his involvement in helping the kids at VBS, his willingness to volunteer in so many areas, his eagerness to make it to Wednesday night Bible study, etc.; he is a huge inspiration to others.

Kimberly – There’s a young man in our church family who, because of prenatal complications, has some learning disabilities and speech difficulties. His heart for God, though, seems so much purer than many others. He has a love for Christ that was shown in his participating in two international missions trips. His passion for worship is demonstrated in his singing in our choir. He has a pure devotion to God, a raw and humble vulnerability, and a soft heart ready and willing to get any wrongs right. His witness is impactful to all with whom he interacts.

Alice – We are a very small church. Since two separate young people with autism began attending a short while ago, I have often wondered how we would be able to meet their needs. But time and again, I have been struck with the intense privilege we have to love on these two through our acceptance of their own unique wirings. I have been impressed with everyone’s willingness to accept them into our family and the families have been blessed by our desire to support their children.

Kendra – Since embarking on our own journey with an autistic child, we have been struck with two prevalent realities. In every waiting room we see families struggling in sadness and despair of the challenges they face, without hope of a God who is there, who exists, who has purpose in His design. Secondly, we encounter persistent, unrelenting narcissism within ‘support groups’ that encourage the right to mourn for a child parents thought they ought to have, of a life they think they deserved to have, of goodness indebted to them as they imagined. Proverbs 11:25 – “A generous man will prosper. He who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.” We need church ministry to exhort and encourage the call to serve others in our similar situations, to entrust ourselves to our Creator, and to joyfully find peace in remembering how He knows our daily needs.

Thank you so much Ben, Kimberly, Alice, and Kendra for sharing these inspiring thoughts. It is our joy to send you each a copy of Krista Horning’s book, Just the Way I am: God’s Good Design in Disability.

Thanking God for John Piper

Teachers change the way you see the world, and they often change the way we understand ourselves (The Conviction to Lead: 25 Principles for Leadership that Matters, 2012, page 67).

If this was the only sentence in Albert Mohler’s excellent book, it would have been well worth the price of the book. Even though this may not seem to you like an earth-shaking insight, it gripped me when I read it. Let me explain.

I am reading Mohler’s book during a very significant and heart-wrenching year of “lasts.” I just attended my last staff meeting with John Piper as my 27-year pastoral colleague. I just heard my last sermon from him as my 33-year pastor. He has been a true comrade in ministry. The sound of his absence is deafening. (more…)

Friday Contest 4/12/13

After reading today’s post “Have You Prayed?,” share with us a testimony of how prayer has transformed the environment in your classroom, or offer us some practical tips in encouraging prayer in the classroom. Submission deadline is Wednesday April 17. We will highlight 3 submissions on April 22, and each of those will receive Pastor Bud Burk’s new booklet on prayer in children’s ministry entitled, Utter Dependency on God, Through Prayer.

  • Topic: Comment on this blog post with a short testimony of how prayer has transformed the environment in your classroom, or offer us some practical tips in encouraging prayer in the classroom.
  • Deadline: Wednesday April 17th, at 11:59pm
  • Prize: One of three copies of Utter Dependency on God, Through Prayer
  • Winners will be announced on Monday, April 22nd.

Have You Prayed?

Are you ready for this coming Sunday? Is your lesson prepared? Have you chosen the worship songs? Is the Bible memory activity ready to go? Do you have that substitute small group leader lined up? But more importantly, have you prayed? Are you praying?

Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.
(John 15:4-5 ESV) (more…)

Ministering to Children from Non-Christian Homes

Having children and youth in your classroom from unbelieving homes provides both unique opportunities and challenges. For example, your words, demeanor, and actions can serve as a beautiful demonstration of the Gospel. At the same time, you may need to deal with issues that arise from children who are not being spiritually nurtured in the home, requiring a greater investment of your time and attention. Below are some suggestions for ways to maximize the potential for spiritual impact on these students:

  • Understand that children from both Christian and non-Christian homes have the same basic spiritual need: They are sinners in need of a Savior. Do not assume that a child from a difficult home situation has a heart that is any more desperate than a pastor’s child. Both children need to hear and respond to the same biblical truths. (more…)

“Spring Inventory” for Children’s and Youth Ministries

In the northern United States, the coming of spring brings many wonderful changes. We are pleased to finally see new green growth replace the melted snow. Indoors comes the traditional “spring cleaning”–making everything clean and fresh again. But it’s also a good time to conduct a “spring inventory”–seeing what supplies we still have on hand and deciding what needs to be replenished. This is a great time to apply this concept to our children’s and youth ministries. Maybe this week would be a good time for you and your ministry team to thoughtfully take inventory by asking some of the following questions…

  • Was the Bible central in all of our teaching?
  • Was God the main focus of every lesson? (more…)
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