Archive - April, 2013

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…)

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…)

March 29 Contest Winners

Congratulations to the winners of our March 29 drawing. Kenny, Sherrie, Jeffrey, Andrew, and Jessica will be receiving a copy of Helping Children to Understand the Gospel. Make sure to check in this coming Friday for our next contest!

Why Our Kids Need Big Truths

Watch this inspiring testimony of how the teaching of big biblical truths prepared a family to stand strong in faith amid profound suffering:

The Watters’ Story

Also, you might want to take a closer look at the curriculum they were using—My Purpose Will Stand: A Study for Children on the Providence of God.

The Parent-Church Partnership

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Many years ago at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, John Piper presented a sermon series titled “Education for Exultation.” In one particular sermon he focused on Psalm 145:4,

One generation shall praise your works to another, And shall declare your mighty acts.

In the sermon he stated the following important reminder,

Foundational to all our ministry to children and young people is that God’s ordinary way of shaping children into radically committed, risk-taking, countercultural, wise, thinking, loving, mature, world Christians is through parents who teach and model a God-centered, Bible-saturated worldview to their children. Why do we start with that conviction? Because Deuteronomy 6:4-7 says, “Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one! You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up….”

The Biblical pattern is for parents, especially fathers, not to relinquish their role as the primary teachers and shapers of their children’s mind and heart – not even to the church. The Biblical pattern is for parents to impart to their children a God-centered, Bible-saturated vision for all of life.

But his next point was the important role that the church plays in partnering with parents. He then gives 5 practical reasons:

1) Some children don’t have believing parents;

2) some single parent homes are so stressed and overworked that they need all the help they can get;

3) there is a whole range of competencies in moms and dads that may need supplementing in the world the way it is (if not the way it should be);

4) even the best home-teaching will benefit from reinforcement in a corporate setting; and

5) some aspects of God’s character may be caught better in a larger corporate setting than at home.

These are important words to keep in mind. Let’s not partake of the “Home vs. Church Wars.” Parents, let’s acknowledge and humbly accept the equipping power of the church. Church, let’s proclaim and affirm the primary role of parents, and then do all we can to assist them.

Do you see God’s GOOD design in children with special needs?

Imagine a new child coming in to your 4th grade Sunday school class. He has a motorized wheelchair. He cannot speak intelligible words. His eyes, when open, seem to wander aimlessly. But every once and a while he seems to focus on a face or a sound. He smiles. Sometimes he lets out an excited “Ha, ha!”

Are you ready and willing to welcome him?

Are the other students in the class ready to welcome him? (more…)

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