Archive - May, 2013

Before You Teach—Be Prepared!

I still vividly remember the day—about 17 years ago—that I made a sweet little first grader break down in tears in front of a roomful of children. It definitely wasn’t in my lesson plan for the day, but after it happened I learned a very valuable lesson—always think through, and thoughtfully plan ALL of your lesson. What do I mean by that? Well, I had always been convinced that I needed to spend time carefully preparing for the actual Bible teaching of the lesson—after all, that should be the main thing in every lesson. But there are other things to consider. For example, how will you present a certain illustration that is designed to help the children better understand a biblical truth? And that is where I failed to think ahead.  (more…)

The Impact of the Holiness of God in Our Children’s and Youth Ministries

Thoughtfully consider these words from Dr. Bruce Ware:

First, because of God’s transcendent otherness, his independence from all things created, his self-sufficient existence in the joyous and blessed fellowship of the Triune Persons, his fullness of perfections and infinite completeness within himself alone—because of this, he simply does not need these people whom he has created, to whom he has pledged his undying and faithful commitment to their everlasting well-being.  (more…)

Keeping the Throne Room in View

The following are some reflections on a “throne” perspective of ministry from Pastor David Michael:

What Isaiah saw [Isaiah 6:1-4] was surreal for him, and how much more for us. What Isaiah saw was so far outside his experience, and it is even more outside of our experience. It is difficult for us to connect to this scene. The Lord, high and lifted up—a royal robe with a train…Six-winged seraphim. Powerful voices shaking the thresholds, and filling the house with smoke burning coals, tongs. That’s nothing like what I’ve experienced. Even in the describing of it, it doesn’t come close to the reality. It’s like looking at a snapshot of the Grand Canyon. The snapshot doesn’t give justice to the view. Being there is incredible. (more…)

Are You Gripped By What You Teach?

As many of you know, CDG had our National Conference May 2-4 in Minneapolis. It was a wonderful time of teaching from the Word, worship, practical training, and delightful fellowship. The theme of the conference was weighty—“The Splendor of Holiness.” In order to help attendees and non-attendees alike, I would like to spend the next month or two highlighting various sessions and seminars from the conference.

To begin with, I would like to focus on the plenary session of Dr. Jason Meyer (Pastor for Preaching and Vision at Bethlehem Baptist Church) and his message “The Splendor of God’s Holiness: The Irresistible Drawing Power of Real Holiness.”Toward the end of his excellent message, he said the following heart-challenging words:

You could make the mistake of focusing exclusively on why children need to be gripped by the splendor of God’s holiness. Here is why that would be a disastrous decision. Wanting to impact children with something that has not impacted you is an unintentional inoculation against being gripped by biblical holiness. Here is what I mean. It is an inoculation because, in the end, it protects them from being “infected” by the power of the truth of God’s holiness. If someone can believe in God’s holiness without loving God’s holiness, then you can have what James calls a dead faith, a demon faith, a useless faith—an empty adherence to teaching that will never change anyone. You can be what Paul says, “having a form of godliness while denying its power.”

Dear friends, if the things you are teaching do not excite you, there is almost no way that they are going to excite children. Children are uniquely gifted in being able to sniff out phoniness. They instinctively say to themselves, “if what you are sharing does not excite you, then why would I want it?”

Or worse yet, they may follow your example. What would be worse—rejecting fake holiness or accepting fake holiness? Embracing fake holiness means that you come to grips with the fact that holiness it is just one of those dull things about God that you are supposed to believe. They may think that they should respond to these glorious things in the same “blah” way as we do. We are modeling for children how they ought to respond to the things of God. When our hearts are unengaged, we end up lying about the very things we are teaching. We are saying, “hey, look everybody, this is the bland way you should engage with these stupendously glorious things.”

That sounds like doom and gloom, but that is certainly not my aim. My goal in warning you about the danger is found in the principle of “forewarned is forearmed.” Think about what happens when you focus on personally being gripped by God’s holiness. You will be gripped yourself. You will be what the Bible calls a “witness.” We need first hand witnesses of God’s holiness for the sake of the next generation….

The only way to teach the holiness of God is as a firsthand witness. You cannot teach the Jesus that your pastor proclaims. You must teach your children about the holiness of God as you have experienced it. This is the way to powerfully proclaim the Word to them…you must be gripped by it yourself.

What is a mother?

CDG is pleased to offer a new and very timely resource by Sally Michael, Mothers: Disciplers of the Next Generations. Here are some words of wisdom from the booklet to whet your appetite…

  • Motherhood involves a vision, too. It may be conscious or unconscious, well-articulated or haphazard, but the vision that drives us also shapes our attitudes, our actions, our influence and, to some degree, the outcome of our mothering. What is your vision of mothering? Is it shaped by the Word…or by the world?
  •  As mothers, it is tempting to be consumed with the busyness of life—getting meals, changing diapers, bringing children to school, doing laundry, attending to the myriad of necessary tasks to manage a household and family—at the neglect of our spiritual development. Not only is this personal spiritual suicide, but it is detrimental to our children. If we would nurture the faith of our children, we must first nurture our own growing relationship with the Living God.
  •  Our primary struggle in raising our children is not subduing their wills, knowing how to teach them the Bible, or even knowing how to pray for them. Our greatest struggle will be in striving to love and worship God above all else, so that we can overflow in imparting that love to our children.
  •  Our primary calling as Christian mothers is to be Christ’s ambassadors to our children, speaking His truth, and reflecting His heart to them. Christ has given us a divine calling as ministers of reconciliation. All our other responsibilities pale in comparison to this one great charge.
  •  Only as we are united to Christ, can we truly fulfill our calling as mothers. So our vision for mothering is to be first lovers of Jesus. Of all the mothering responsibilities we have, our first and foremost is to grow as Christians. If we are good Christians, we will be good mothers.

Teaching Children to Fear the Lord

The following is a great illustration from an old (1981) sermon by John Piper. Here are a few quotes…

Noël and the boys and I went out to Dick and Irene Tiegen’s place last week. They have a big dog as tall as Benjamin, which greeted us with barks and growls from where he was chained. But after we were there and in the house with the dog, he was friendly. Then we went outside again and Irene gave the warning: Don’t run from him. But as Karsten was heading out to the car, the dog came trotting up behind, and instead of slowing down and petting the dog, Karsten started to run, and immediately the dog barked and growled. What a lesson in the fear of God. Irene was Moses and she says to us Israelites, the Piper family, “Do not fear to draw near, but keep the fear of the dog (the fear of the Lord) before your eyes, lest you try to run away (lest you start to fall into sin).” God is a joy to be near and a terror to those who flee. The comparison breaks down, however: Irene put the dog in the basement, but nobody puts God in the basement. (more…)

Monday Refreshments

In one sense, Sundays are not really a day of “rest” for those who work in children’s or youth ministry. Almost every Sunday unfolds with new or unexpected challenge in the classroom – a teacher who calls in sick that morning, a disruptive child, a despondent visitor, a missing workbook, a lesson illustration that doesn’t work, frustration in getting the students to really focus, etc, etc.

So for this Monday’s post I thought of offering some refreshments for any tired and weary souls… no calories involved! Feast on the words of this great hymn…

Jesus, I am resting, resting,
In the joy of what Thou art;
I am finding out the greatness
Of Thy loving heart.
Thou hast bid me gaze upon Thee,
And Thy beauty fills my soul,
For by Thy transforming power,
Thou hast made me whole.

O, how great Thy loving kindness,
Vaster, broader than the sea!
O, how marvelous Thy goodness,
Lavished all on me!
Yes, I rest in Thee, Belovèd,
Know what wealth of grace is Thine,
Know Thy certainty of promise,
And have made it mine.

Simply trusting Thee, Lord Jesus,
I behold Thee as Thou art,
And Thy love, so pure, so changeless,
Satisfies my heart;
Satisfies its deepest longings,
Meets, supplies its every need,
Compasseth me round with blessings:
Thine is love indeed!

Ever lift Thy face upon me
As I work and wait for Thee;
Resting ’neath Thy smile, Lord Jesus,
Earth’s dark shadows flee.
Brightness of my Father’s glory,
Sunshine of my Father’s face,
Keep me ever trusting, resting,
Fill me with Thy grace.

(Jesus, I am Resting, Resting,  Jean Sophia Pigott)

Let Them Bless His Holy Name Forever: Our Eternal Hope For The Next Generations

The following is a plenary session given by Pastor David Michael, Pastor of Parenting and Family Discipleship at Bethlehem Baptist Church and President of Children Desiring God at CDG NatCon 2013.

Isaiah 6:1-13—In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. 2Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. 3And one called to another and said:

Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts;
the whole earth is full of his glory!

4And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. 5And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!” (more…)

The Splendor of God’s Holiness: The Irresistible Drawing Power of Real Holiness

The following is a plenary session message given by Pastor Jason Meyer, Pastor for Preaching and Vision at Bethlehem Baptist Church.

Real holiness is either a terror or a treasure, but it cannot be a trifle. Real holiness cannot be boring or dull. The dullness of our demeaner would like about the splendor of holiness. Real holiness (by which I mean God’s holiness) is either repulsive or irresistible.

But we have to ask the question… (more…)

The Lord, Our God, is Holy: the Revelation of the Holiness of God

The following is a plenary session given by Dr. Bruce Ware, Professor of Christian Theology, Southern Seminary, at CDG NatCon 2013.

Introduction

Turn to Isaiah 57:15.

15 For thus says the One who is high and lifted up, who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: “I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly, and to revive the heart of the contrite. 

We are going to focus on this verse today. But in order to see the whole context, we really need to see the whole chapter and how verse 15 fits in. There’s an antagonist and a protagonist to be seen. This is what I want to press on – what does Isaiah 57:15 contribute to our understanding of God and his holiness? We must see the whole chapter. (more…)

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