Archive - September, 2013

Trusting the Gospel in Our Parenting

Gospel-Powered Parenting
Pastor William Farley reminds us of the importance of trusting in the Gospel to transform our children’s hearts.

Some parents trust in a particular school. Others trust in the ability of the youth leader. Some parents rely on morality. They place their children in front of a wholesome Christian video and trust that Christians will emerge. For most of us, it is more basic. We rely on ourselves—our sincerity, our wisdom, the way our parents raised us, our family traditions, or our cleverness.

But gospel-centered parents trust in the gospel. It is their confidence and hope. The gospel “is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes” (Rom. 1:16). They know that the Word of God is living and active. It pierces (Heb. 4:12)…

This is important. You cannot change your child’s heart. You need power outside yourself … Ultimately, the gospel is the decisive heart changer.

(Gospel-Powered Parenting: How the Gospel Shapes and Transforms Parenting, Copyright ©2009, pages 181-182)

Leading Children in God-Centered Worship

Worship

I have a great appreciation for the men and women whom God has gifted in leading children in God-centered worship. They go beyond the” light and fluffy” approach that has often been associated with children’s ministry in order to guide children toward a more biblical view God, which inspires admiration, awe, and praise. One such leader is Pam Grano, and in her excellent seminar “Leading Children in God-Centered Worship,” she helps worship leaders to lay a solid foundation in their vision and philosophy of worship, as well as practical concerns for implementation in the classroom. Some of the areas covered in her seminar are:

 

  • How is worshiping with children different than with adults?
  • How do I plan a time of worship with children?
  • What kinds of songs should be considered?
  • How do I organize songs, Scripture, and prayer into a meaningful worship time?
  • Developmental and musical considerations

 

Her seminar handout would serve as a valuable resource for every worship leader, as well as the audio from the entire seminar.

Photo Credit: Madeline Hunt at Sofia Hilder Photography

“We Can’t Teach That Because…”

In two previous posts, we heard Sally Michael explain why and how we should teach difficult doctrines to children. In this video, she raises and then answers the following five objections:

We can’t teach difficult doctrines to children because….

1. These truths are inappropriate to teach to children (e.g., dark; violent; evil).
2. These truths are too hard for children to understand.
3. These truths are too hard for me to understand.  How can I hope to teach them to children?
4. The kids are going to be bored with all of this theology.
5. These topics are too controversial.  I will get in trouble if I teach these things.

Serving Families with Disability

Serving Families with Disabilities

An important word from our friend John Knight posted at Desiring God,

How to Serve Families with Disability

I was enjoying some friendly conversation with old friends after church when my teenaged daughter whispered in my ear, “Dad, he’s losing it.”

A quick glance at my son confirmed her assessment of her older brother with disabilities. Experience had taught us that his vocalizations would only get more intense and much louder. We needed to go.

I felt a heavy sigh welling up as yet another pleasant moment was cut short by my son’s behavior caused by his disabilities. It was another small disappointment added to the 10,000 others before it.

This is an important part of the story about disability in the lives of families. It frequently isn’t the “big things” that are sapping our strength and hope, but the constant little things that wear away at the foundations of our lives.
(more…)

The Struggle Toward Conversion

The Struggle

Does this story sound at all familiar?

A nine-year-old child, who has always shown an interest in spiritual things and a tenderness toward the Gospel, suddenly gives evidence of disinterest or even unbelief. He may even begin to voice antagonism toward prayer, Bible reading, going to church, etc. What’s happening? Should you ignore this as simply a “stage” he is going through?

In our resource, Helping Children to Understand the Gospel, Sally Michael explains the spiritual struggle that many children experience sometime during the ages of 7 to 12 years old, and she offers some wise counsel about how we can help and guide children through this struggle.

Remember that conversion does not always happen instantaneously but often involves a journey of questioning, evaluating, struggling, and learning to trust. Conversion is a process. The struggle is good—the ugliness of the human heart needs to be experienced and grieved over.

Often at this stage, our temptation as adults is to be impatient and jump to the resolution of the struggle—to “insure salvation for the child.” Hence, this is where our faith as sowers is really tested: do we trust God to bring the child through victoriously? Will we trust in the sovereignty and goodness of God? It is at this time of waiting that our sin nature tempts us to take things into our own hands and push the child to make a commitment that he may be unprepared to make. We fear the outcome of the child’s struggle and we want to secure the desired result. But we need to let go—to guide, encourage, point to Jesus by all means, but also to let go and let the child deal with God, and God with the child. We must not try to manipulate a response.
(more…)

Give Your Students a “Window” for Their Birthday

Window
As long as I have been teaching Sunday school, we always have had some kind of special ritual for celebrating student birthdays. It doesn’t need to be anything elaborate or time-consuming. It could be as simple as having the child come to the front of the room and having the class sing “Happy Birthday,” and maybe even giving the child a small gift. (Our students love getting special helium balloons.) But even more significant for the child and the whole class would be the gift of a “window”… a type of window through which they can see something grander than their birthday, the song, the balloon, or being the center of attention. Suppose you had the birthday child come to the front and said something like this:

Joey, I am so thankful to God for how He has blessed you this past year. I have seen God’s faithfulness in how He provided you with some new friends this year. I have seen how God has given you a gift of boldness as you have volunteered so many times to read Scripture out loud during our lessons. Isn’t God wonderful!

 I am so glad that God has made you a part of our class. Let’s pray together and thank Jesus for your birthday. Let’s praise Him for every day He has given you this past year. Let’s ask Him to show you more and more of His love and greatness this coming year so that you will love and treasure Him most of all.

(more…)

Planting Seeds of Truth

 

simile: n. a figure of speech in which one thing is likened to another
in one respect by the use of “like,” “as,” etc.

The Bible uses similes frequently.  They paint pictures for our eyes so our minds can grasp biblical truth.  They borrow our familiarity with the ordinary to help us understand the profound.  Consider the following:

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.
He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season,
and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers.
Psalm 1:1-3

A simple picture.  A profound truth.  Delighting in the Word of God causes us to meditate on it day and night. The person who delights in the Word of God, who is fed day and night, will not stay a sapling. He will be like a tree.

If his roots grow deeply into the Word of God, if he pulls nourishment up through those roots day and night, He will grow into a mighty tree.  Reading God’s Word makes us strong.  Just as healthy, strong trees blossom forth into fruit, those who are made strong by the steady diet of delighting in God’s Word produce fruit.

What would we give for our children to become mighty oaks of righteousness? An hour of teaching on Sunday morning? A few hours of preparation? A regular weekly prayer for the children in your small group? A passing word of spiritual encouragement to a child in your class? Each of these small investments could reap an eternal harvest.

Are you contemplating teaching Sunday school this year?

We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day;
night is coming, when no one can work.
John 9:4

Are you wavering in your commitment to nurture the faith of the next generation?

And let us not grow weary of doing good,
for in due season we will reap,
if we do not give up.
Galatians 6:9

Are you unsure of your abilities?

So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything,
but only God who gives the growth.
1 Corinthians 3:7

There may be reasons for pulling back on teaching the Bible to the next generation, but there remains one great reason for staying the course…

He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season,
and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers.

May you be blessed as you plant the seeds of righteousness in the next generation, and may the children within your influence become mighty oaks of faith.

Who Are Your Child’s Heroes?

Super Man

Timely Thoughts from Pastor Art Murphy:

God uses the lives of godly men and women to affect the lives of others, especially children. God’s people should have a natural attractiveness. Because of the positive characteristics demonstrated in Christian’s lives, others around them are drawn to seek God. The world is looking for good role models. Who are your children’s heroes? Who are your heroes? Do they point children to God, or do they point them to the world, away from God?
(more…)

Repeat, Review, and Be Patient

Dove

This example from Phillip R. Johnson made me laugh, and it brought to mind similar experiences that I have had as a parent and teacher of young children. It also is a good reminder of the importance of repeating, reviewing, and being patient as we teach.

Children rarely get the whole message right the first time. That’s why the best Sunday-school curriculum has a lot of built in repetition and review.

My eldest son, Jeremiah, was only three when his Sunday-school class began to have formal lessons. I loved having him retell the stories for me, and I was amazed at how accurate he was with most of the details. I was even more amazed that his little mind could absorb so much.

But he didn’t always get the minutiae quite right.

One Sunday he was recounting Jesus’ baptism for me. He rehearsed the narrative rapid-fire, without pausing to breathe: “Jesus came to this man—John—who baptized people, and He said, “Baptize Me.” And John said he couldn’t do it because he wasn’t good enough, but Jesus said do it anyway.”

(more…)

Communicating True Saving Faith to Children

I found this explanation and illustration regarding true saving faith from Tedd Tripp to be very helpful:

We want our children to have faith in God. But what does it mean to have saving faith? Starting with Martin Luther, and further explicated by Philip Melanchthon and others who followed them, Reformed theology has traditionally used a threefold definition of faith as notitia (knowledge), assensus (assent), and fiducia (trust). Our major confessions of faith show this understanding. The Westminster Confession of Faith 14.2 maintains that saving faith joins believing in God’s Word, accepting Christ’s claims, and “receiving and resting on Christ alone” for all that salvation provides.

As a parent who desires his children to exercise saving faith, I am concerned with all three aspects of saving faith. Therefore, my shepherding must intentionally promote notitia, assensus, and fiducia.

… We must always set before them the gospel truth. Every family should have some intentional and structured times in which the children are taught about what the Scriptures contain. We must faithfully urge them to believe the things we have taught. Some basic apologetics will inevitably be essential as we persuade them to believe the truth.

None of this will be enough unless they entrust themselves to Jesus Christ. If they are to be partakers of eternal life, they must trust in this Jesus Christ who saves. Our children must receive Him, turn to Him, hold fast to Him, and rest in Him alone for salvation. Ultimately, the work of the Holy Spirit must transform our children into people who rest in Christ alone for salvation. Our role is to bring them the gospel and urge them to embrace Christ the Savior.

I used to tell my children about the man who watched a tightrope walker crossing Niagara Falls pushing a wheel barrow. After seeing the feat performed repeatedly, he was asked by the performer, “Can I walk across the falls pushing this wheelbarrow.” “Yes,” was the answer (notitia). “Do you believe that I can do it again?” “Yes” (assensus). “Would you jump in the wheelbarrow and let me push you across?” (fiducia). This is the question of trust.

Our children must know that Jesus is the Savior who died for sinners. They must believe that He will save sinners who come to Him. But to cross from death to life they must believe that Jesus is their Savior. They must get into the wheelbarrow. What they will find is that He is willing and able to get them safely to the other shore.

You can read the entire article, “A Child’s Call to Conversion: Faith as a Christian Mark,”posted at Ligonier Ministries.

Page 1 of 212»