Archive - May, 2013

Blessing His Children

Earlier Jill highlighted the resource, A Father’s Guide to Blessing His Children. Here is a short video of Gary Steward (David & Sally’s son-in-law) blessing his two daughters before bedtime:

You can win a free copy of the booklet that inspired these blessings by entering today’s contest!

Involving Parents in the Classroom

In her seminar, “Involving Parents in the Classroom,” Connie Oman (Coordinator for Training and Classroom Support at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis) offered some very practical ideas for encouraging parents to become more acquainted and involved in their child’s classroom experience. (more…)

The Importance of Family Ministry

The following are some very wise words from an article by Dr. Timothy Jones. (more…)

Reflections on Memorial Day

Today is Memorial Day in the USA. For many, it is simply a day off, the start of the summer vacation season, or a day to start on the long-awaited garden. But for me, this “holiday” took on a whole new meaning three years ago. Memorial Day 2010 was a time to say goodbye to our son before he left for Afghanistan where he would be serving with the Army for a year. (more…)

Is This Book on Your Shelf?

One of the books that we HIGHLY recommend at Children Desiring God is the very practical (and short—only 160 pages) Teach Them Diligently: How to Use the Scriptures in Child Training by Lou Priolo

Here is Pastor John MacArthur’s endorsement on the back cover of the book:

There is far more to teaching your children the Bible than merely telling them Bible stories. Unfortunately, many parents feel ill-equipped for the task, so they neglect this vital aspect of Christian parenting. In doing so, they forfeit many of the greatest blessings of parenthood. Here’s a valuable aid for parents seeking help…[This book] holds a wealth of practical and biblical advice for parents seeking to fulfill the mandate of Deuteronomy 6:6-7.

And here is the main premise in the book on which Priolo bases this advice,

The Scriptures provide all you need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3). They also provide all you need to bring up your children “in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” For thousands of years Christian parents have depended on the Bible as their source for child training. Down through the centuries men and women have believed that God would not ask them to do anything without giving them the resources to accomplish the task—especially a task as difficult as raising godly children. They believed it when Paul told them that the Scriptures were given “in order to make the man of God adequate, and to equip him fully for every good task” (2 Tim. 3:17, CCNT).

I would also add that this book is a must read for anyone who teaches children in a classroom setting, especially small groups leaders!

Our contest is now closed. Laurel was our winner. Thanks to everyone for participating!

The Importance of a Biblical View of Friendships for Our Children and Youth

Summer is almost upon us, and for many children and students that means more time to spend with friends. As any adult knows and has experienced, these friendships offer great potential as well as great dangers for our children and youth. Therefore, it is important for us to make sure that our children have a biblical view of friendship…

  • a view that recognizes friendships are a wonderful gift from God and are also intended to help and encourage us to better know and trust in Jesus and walk in His truth.
  • a view that warns us against friendships that may hinder our growth in godliness.

Consider the following verses from Proverbs that illustrate both the gift of friendship and the warnings against unwise friendships:

13:20—Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.

17:17a—A friend loves at all times,

18:24—A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

22:24-25—Make no friendship with a man given to anger, nor go with a wrathful man,

lest you learn his ways and entangle yourself in a snare.

27:9—Oil and perfume make the heart glad, and the sweetness of a friend comes from his earnest counsel.

This summer might be a good time to help your childrenespecially older onesexamine their hearts and evaluate their friendships. You could start by reading together the verses listed above and also verses that describe God’s desire for how we are to relate to one another. For example,

Romans 12:10—Love one another

Romans 15:14—Instruct one another

2 Corinthians 13:11—Comfort one another

Galatians 5:13—Serve one another

Galatians 6:2—Bear one another’s burdens

Ephesians 4:32—Be kind to and forgive one another

Colossians 3:9—Do not lie to one another

1 Thessalonians 5:11—Encourage and build up one another

1 Thessalonians 5:15—Do good to one another

James 5:16—Pray for one another

Next, ask some of the following questions to initiate further discussion:

  • Do you tend to choose your friends casually, or carefully? What kind of qualities do you look for in a friend? Are these the right guidelines to use?
  • What kinds of conversations and activities characterize your friendships?
  • Do you think that you are being influenced toward godliness by most of your friends?
  • Do you thank God for the friends who have helped you to grow in godliness? In turn, are you encouraging these friends to grow in godliness? In what ways?
  • Are there any things you see in your friendships that need change or improvement? What practical steps can you take this week to make progress in this area?
  • Are any of your friends acting as “snares” in your life? Are you acting as a “snare” to any of your friends? How would Jesus want you to be transformed in this area of your life?
  • Do you ask for your parents’ counsel in evaluating your friendships? Do you heed their advice?
  • How might being a friend to a non-Christian help you to grow in your own trust and love for Jesus? How can your parents help guide you in how you might carefully do this?

God’s Good Design for Our Children

As many of you know, Children Desiring God is located in Minneapolis Minnesota. This month, Minnesota will become the 12th state in the nation to officially recognize same-sex “marriage.” In one of his final sermons at Bethlehem Baptist Church, John Piper made the following observation,

…as I hand off my leadership role at Bethlehem to Jason Meyer, the world he and you will face is very different than when I came almost 33 years ago. It would have been unthinkable to suggest that anyone would seriously propose defining marriage as between two men or two women; and it would have been even more unthinkable that in a mere thirty years America would have lost its soul so profoundly that most American’s would approve of a definition of marriage that no society in the history of the world has ever embraced. (“Life Together at the End of the Age,” February 25, 2013)

How will we raise a generation of children in the midst of this increasingly hostile culture? Are we giving them the solid, foundational truths that they will need if they are to stand against the tide of worldly deceit—especially those truths that relate to a right understanding of manhood, womanhood, and marriage?

With these concerns in mind, CDG has developed a curriculum for youth titled, Rejoicing in God’s Good Design to deeply immerse our children into God’s absolute and unchanging truths, so that they might “shine as lights in the world” (Philippians 2:15).

Here is a sampling from the preface,

We live in a confused world. A world in rebellion against the Creator. Rejecting the beauty of God for a lie. 

It all started in the garden when Adam and Eve believed the serpent’s vicious lie of autonomy. With that act of rebellion, man and woman traded harmony with God and with each other for pain, suffering, brokenness, disharmony, and…confusion—confusion about the nature of God, confusion about God’s commands, and confusion about who they were.

Safety glass that has received a blow doesn’t usually just chip or crack…it shatters—into a million little pieces, beyond repair. 

God, the all-wise, good Creator created a perfect world and a perfect design for man and woman. But into that world, a lie was believed, a rebellion established and God’s good design for man and woman wasn’t chipped or broken. It was…shattered…into a million little pieces, beyond repair, almost. 

God, in His richness in mercy, sent His Son, Jesus Christ, the Repairer of the Broken, the Restorer of Relationships, the Destroyer of Confusion into this broken, confused world. 

Because of Jesus Christ, and His work of redemption on the cross, man no longer needs to live in rebellion, disharmony, or confusion. We can become new creatures in Christ. 

We, the people of God, can bring His message of hope to a confused, rebellious, dying world. Hope for rebellious hearts through the atonement of Jesus. Hope for disharmonious relationships through the grace of the Healer. And hope for confused minds through the clarity of the Truth.

Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. 

This is the message we have for the world regarding man and woman: 

So God created man in his own image,

In the image of God he created him;

male and female he created them.

—Genesis 1:27 

This is good news. This is a good design. This is worth rejoicing in! 

And God blessed them. And God said to them,

“Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth

and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea

and over the birds of the heavens

and over every living thing that moves on the earth”…

The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden

to work it and keep it… Then the Lord said,

“It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make a helper fit for him.”

–Genesis 1:28; 2:15, 18 

And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good.

—Genesis 1:31

In a world that “turns things upside down” will you search the Scriptures, opening your heart before your wise, good Maker, and rejoice in His good design? Will you “set things right side up” through your living and obedient faith in Christ, pointing others to the perfect design for man and woman…and to the Creator? Will you stand against the flood of untruth, anger, rebellion, and suffering and live according to God’s will, command, and blessing? 

Will you pray that as you see the truth unfold from the Word of God about being male and female, you will see the goodness of God in His wise and perfect plan and REJOICE IN GOD’S GOOD DESIGN!

Training Children to Be Healthy Church Members

At Children Desiring God, we like to talk about “vision-driven” ministry for children, youth, and families. A vision-driven ministry keeps the end goal in sight, and then carefully and thoughtfully steers a course toward that end goal. Have you ever considered that one of the end goals should be that our children and students grow up to become healthy church members? What might that look like?

In his very helpful and practical book, What Is a Healthy Church Member?, Pastor Thabiti Anyabwile identifies 10 “marks” of healthy church member.

A healthy church member…

  1. Is an expositional listener—Listening for the meaning of a passage of Scripture and accepting that meaning as the main idea to be grasped for our personal and corporate lives as Christians.” (2008, page 20)
  2. Is a biblical theologian—“Ignorance of the ways of God and of communion with him is rampant in too many instances. Members of Christian churches continue to think small thoughts of God and great thoughts of man. This state of affairs reveals that too many Christians have neglected their first great calling: to know their God. (page 27)
  3. Is gospel-saturated—“As church members, our aim is to understand the gospel so deeply, so intimately, that it animates every area of our lives.” (page 42)
  4. Is genuinely converted—“Genuine converts to Christ grieve at their sin. They hate their sins, and they desire the light of life in Christ, which is to say they desire and work to walk in integrity and righteousness.” (page 51)
  5. Is a biblical evangelist—“… biblical evangelism requires of us one thing primarily: that we be faithful to share the good news of Jesus Christ with the people God places in contact with us.” (pages 58-59)
  6. Is a committed member—“A committed member gives resources, time, and talent to the furtherance of the gospel in the local church.” (page 70)
  7. Seeks discipline—“Without the proper establishment of routines, boundaries, and patterns, thriving spiritually most likely will not occur or will be haphazard at best.” (page 74)
  8. Is a growing disciple—“… someone who looks more and more like Jesus in attitude of heart, thought, speech, and action.” (page 89)
  9. Is a humble follower—“… healthy members of a local church should strive and encourage others to strive to follow their leaders with wide-open hearts, eager obedience, and joyful submission.” (page 103)
  10. Is a prayer warrior—“When we survey the activities of the early church…we discover that one of the central things early church members devoted themselves to was prayer.” (page 106)

How are we doing as parents and teachers? Are we teaching, training, and equipping our children toward being “healthy” members of a local church—a community of believers?

Encouraging Your Ministry Team

Most of the great transforming work in our lives happens in the routine, the regular rhythms of life.

“Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him,” (1 John 5:1). A leader who loves Jesus will look for ways to express love to his team. It is his joy to do so. This is a Spirit-filled leader who is being transformed into the image of God. God is supreme in love, and His children are becoming like Him, like His Son. In short, they love to love others in Jesus’ name.

An excellent way for a leader to express love to a team is to point out evidences of grace in them. He looks for God among his people, what I like to call “God sightings.” It is his joy to train his eyes to look for God. How does he do this?

First, he becomes familiar with passages of Scripture such as Galatians 5:22-23 on the fruit of the Spirit. This fruit, when seen in the lives of others, is evidence that God is on the move. For example, if a Sunday school teacher is seen to be patient with a disobedient child, the leader has just witnessed a work of God in a teacher. He has seen an evidence of grace. But just witnessing an evidence of grace in another person is incomplete. It must be spoken of. The second step is to bring this person’s attention to it by stating the truth, such as “I saw the Spirit at work in your heart today, sister. You were patient with that child as you were teaching. Patience is a fruit of the Spirit. I saw God in you today. Be encouraged.”

What I have found is that when I speak of evidences of grace, people do not default to the regular rhythms of life. They think I am referring to something really big, like going on a mission’s trip to a hard place for example. Now, that is special to be sure, but it is also special to see God carefully and often slowly transform a heart from struggling with patience to becoming patient. Most of the great transforming work in our lives happens in the routine, the regular rhythms of life.

How do I start? Ask God for eyes to see hearts in the process of transformation. Look for God; look for grace; look for signs of life that are expressed in character. Then, tell people what you see, but do this with the spotlight on God. Remember, every perfect and good gift is from above (Ephesians 1:3; James 1:17).

A final note: A leader who has lost a measure of joy in the ministry might benefit by doubling up his effort to find God among his people, then pointing Him out to them. A steady diet of this service is bound to revive his joy. “I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus, that in every way you were enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge–” (1 Corinthians 1:4-5).

Looking for God among His people with you,

Bud Burk

(Bud Burk is Pastor for Child & Youth Discipleship at Bethlehem Baptist Church, Downtown Campus. He is also the author of Utter Dependency on God, Through Prayer, and co-author of Helping Children to Understand the Gospel.)

From the Mouths of Children—Holy, Holy, Holy

Back on March 12,  I shared a special moment from our 1st grade Sunday school class. Here it is with video added. Enjoy! (more…)

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