Archive - October, 2013

Encouraging Biblical Literacy in Preschoolers

In a previous post, I made the case and gave suggestions for encouraging biblical literacy in our nurseries. What comes next? Preschool, 2- to 4-year-olds. At the preschool level, children should not only hear the Bible taught, but should also SEE it. What do I mean by that? And what other things can we do to encourage biblical literacy at this age? Read on…

  • Use the Bible as you teach, even if you are not reading directly from the text—have your Bible open to the corresponding text. Show the children that the story is from the Bible by pointing to the text that you are going to read.
  • Look for opportunities to read directly from the text  even if it is only one verse from the story. When you do this, emphasize that you are reading from the Bible, “I am going to read from the Bible now. This is what God says…”
  • Expand and continually review key biblical themes—repetition encourages memorization.
  • Make simple connections, and point out progression in the individual stories, as well as the Bible as a whole.

For example, in telling children about the fall you could ask some simple questions that lead them to see the connection between God’s command and the consequence that followed because of disobedience to that command:

God created Adam and Eve and God put them in the garden to live. He gave them everything they needed to be happy. There were lots and lots of trees to eat from. But God gave them a special rule about one of the trees: “Do not eat from this tree. If you eat from this tree, you will die.” Adam and Eve must obey God. But Adam and Eve did not obey God. They ate from that one tree.

Questions to ask: Will God be happy with Adam and Eve? No. Why not? Because they disobeyed His rule. That is wrong. What will happen to Adam and Eve? Yes, they will die.

  • Use key themes and stories to present a simple Gospel message. For example,

God is holy, He never sins.
People disobey God—we are sinners.
God is right to punish sin.
God loves us and is patient and kind.
Jesus is God’s Son.

God sent Jesus to us.
Jesus died to save us.
Jesus came alive again.
Jesus saves sinners.
Believe Jesus!

At this point, it is not necessary that the children fully understand all of these themes and their connection. You are beginning to give them truths and connections that will be the foundation of greater biblical understanding as they mature.

  • Use activities that review key people and events, as well as chronological order.
  • Encourage Bible memory in the class and at home with simple yet faith nurturing verses.
  • Demonstrate through your words and actions the uniqueness and trustworthiness of the Bible. You can do this through how you talk about the Bible, and even by how you treat our Bible.

What is in the Box?

JWS Proofs

There is something special about receiving a package and experiencing the excitement of slicing through the tape or ripping the tab off in order to get the first glimpse of what is inside the box.

At Children Desiring God, hearing the UPS lady walk through the door to our offices always gets everyone’s attention. Undoubtedly, someone will ask her the big question, “What is it?” As she attempts to catch her breath after hauling our boxes up the steep stairs to the third floor, she will respond with something along the lines of: “How would I know? You are the ones who ordered it. All I can see is the box.”

The box—a dirty, travel-worn and sometimes damaged package.

In a way, our hearts are like the cardboard boxes that arrive dirty and travel-worn because we are all born with darkened, sinful hearts that fail to reflect God’s perfect righteousness. We are damaged, and there is nothing we can do in our own power to change that. But, God can! God in His mercy sent us a perfect “package” that is the only solution for our sin problem. The gift is Jesus, the Savior! Because of Jesus’ perfect righteousness and His death on the cross, He can make our sinful hearts new so that we might reflect God’s glory as we should. These are some of the truths kindergarteners are taught in our curriculum, Jesus, What a Savior!

So, back to the UPS delivery. Last Friday, when we received our deliveries, the exciting answer to “What is in the box?” was: proofs from the printer for the revised version of Jesus, What a Savior!

We are so excited to have this first set of proofs in hand after working diligently over the past two years to revise Jesus, What a Savior! What’s different about the revised version? While the truths being taught to kindergarteners will remain the same, we added many improvements:  lesson content, format, and illustrations have been updated making the lessons easier to teach; the visuals have been replaced with more colorful, original artwork; and the workbook is more interactive for the needs of young children.

We are now in the last stage of our publishing process and we are working hard to ensure that all of the details are in place so the curriculum will be ready for your classrooms.

We hope that you too will soon have the excitement of receiving a box in the mail, full of the revised Jesus, What a Savior! curriculum. Since you will have to wait a little longer before you can place an order, we want to give you a sneak peek inside the box. Have fun looking at a Sample of the revised curriculum, as well as the Scope & Sequence which will give you an overview of all the lessons. More information about the revision process is also available on our Revised Curriculum page.

Be on the lookout over the next few weeks for more information about Jesus, What a Savior! and for the official curriculum release date. Also, check back Friday to enter to win a special prize we are giving away in the Friday Contest.

Specific Things to Pray for Your Children

Earlier this spring, Jon Bloom posted an article, “Seven Things to Pray for Your Children,” at Desiring God. Here is a summary of his seven things to pray:

  1. That Jesus will call them and no one will hinder them from coming (Matthew 19:13–15).
  2. That they will respond in faith to Jesus’ faithful, persistent call (2 Peter 3:9).
  3. That they will experience sanctification through the transforming work of the Holy Spirit, and will increasingly desire to fulfill the greatest commandments (Matthew 22:37-39).
  4. That they will not be unequally yoked in intimate relationships, especially marriage (2 Corinthians 6:14).
  5. That their thoughts will be pure (Philippians 4:8).
  6. That their hearts will be stirred to give generously to the Lord’s work (Exodus 35:29).
  7. That when the time is right, they will GO! (Matthew 28:18-20).

Read the entire post here. (Jon Bloom is President of Desiring God, and is also on the Board of Directors of Children Desiring God.)

Active Learning Goes Beyond Activity

One of the God-given means for influencing the heart and the will is to encourage students to be active participants in the learning process.

Most people would agree that it is good for children to be involved in the learning process and most of us could even give reasons why this is so:

  • It makes the lessons more interesting, and therefore helps child to pay attention (easy for their minds to wander if you are doing all the talking)—Students do not get bored if they are actively participating in the learning process.
  • Children will often remember the concepts longer if they have been involved in the learning process.
  • When children are involved in the discovery of knowledge themselves,  sometimes they can internalize truth better—discovering a Bible truth sometimes causes that truth to be embraced in the heart, rather than just understood in the head.


What Makes You Proud?

As a teacher and a parent, I have often found myself caught in the cultural “success-trap,” encouraging and measuring my students’ and children’s success with wrong or deficient goals and measures. For example, do I measure success in my 1st grade Sunday school class merely by how many verses the children can memorize during the year? By how fast they can do a Sword Drill? By how many lesson themes they can remember? Yes, all of those things can be good goals, but…

This week, I found this posting by R.C. Sproul, Jr. at Ligonier Ministries to be both convicting and helpful:

Because those in the world are so quick to live vicariously through their children, to catalog their successes in conversation and on social media, we Christians are tempted to follow suit. We want to show the world that our following in the pathway of Christ doesn’t make us losers, but that in fact we are empowered for even greater successes. We Christians herald our outspoken athletes and our teenage pop stars and in turn highlight whatever headlines our own children garner.

Our standards, however, ought to be different. Our faith isn’t a better path to a better life, as the world defines it. It is instead a different path, a different life, and a different understanding of what we mean by better. We cherish academic success, but smart, I’m sorry to report, is not listed among the fruit of the Spirit. Neither is pretty, wealthy, athletic, musical. There is nothing wrong with those things, nothing wrong with excelling in those things. They are not, however, the goal. They are not the measure of success for those called to pick up their cross and follow Him.

Read the whole article titled, “What Makes You Proudest of Your Children?,” here.

Photo Credit

Two Year Olds and Scary Things

For whatever reason, my 2-year-old grandson David, is afraid of owls—really afraid. His fear of owls has even started to cause nightmares. As far as his parents know, the only owls he’s ever encountered have been in Winnie-the-Pooh and Kipper (not exactly your frightening kind of children’s literature). You’re only 2 years old and you already know that there are scary things out there—things that want to get you in the night! This brought to mind some important thoughts from Dr. Russell Moore. In his message, “No Longer Tossed To and Fro,” he states,

In order for our children to hear and understand the gospel…we do not need to hide from them the dark aspects that the Scripture tells us about. They already know that something is wrong with the universe.

Watch this video and see how he expounds on this statement starting at 34:30 .

Traditions and Our Children

I have really enjoyed Noël Piper’s book Treasuring God in Our Traditions . As the holidays are fast upon us, I would highly recommend this resource for every family. Noël not only gives great ideas for celebrating “especially” traditions like Thanksgiving, Christmas, and birthdays, but she also discusses the importance “everyday” traditions that help point our children God-ward. Here is an excerpt:

You shall teach [God’s words] to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. (Deuteronomy 11:19)

When I get caught up in the biography of a person I admire, my family hears all about this person for days. Whatever someone says seems to remind me of some  event in her life. So mealtime conversations are filled with stories that flow from my own fascination. As we are filling our hearts and souls with God’s Word, what will be more natural than the same sort of spillover onto our family?

But are we really talking about tradition here? Isn’t this passage about teaching and about God’s Word? Yes, and one of the main features of traditions is repetition. Of course, we wouldn’t say that sitting or walking or lying down or rising up, no matter how frequently they’re repeated, are traditions. But those activities represent the things that we do most often, and they are named as reminders to do the most crucial thing we can do for our children—teach them the words of God. God wants us to remember to see him in the most mundane parts of our lives. And what we see, he wants us to talk about with our children. When that level of significance is added to the ordinary repetitions of life, a tradition is created.

Sitting, walking, lying down, and rising up are so insignificant that we don’t even give them a thought. But I pray that my children will look back at “insignificant” times and ask each other, “Remember trying to catch Mom and Dad before they got up in the morning so we could snuggle with them, and how lots of times Daddy prayed out loud before we all got out of bed?” or “Remember when we asked questions, and somehow the answers always came back to God?”

Things like that don’t just happen. They come first from our own hearts that are tuned in to God. Then they happen because we plan to include our children in the God-air we breathe. Without planning, we’ll practice our Bible memory just once or twice and then no more. We’ll do lots of good things, but only a couple of times. One of the great strengths of good traditions in our lives is the repetition—not something done once, then something else, then another thing altogether, but good things done regularly, dependably, until they become habits.

(Taken from Treasuring God in Our Traditions by Noël Piper, © 2003, pages 24-25. Used by permission of Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187,

These Are Written So That…

CDG Graphic Designer Gabriel Leake brought this video to my attention last week. I found it very inspiring and believe it is a wonderful follow up to Pastor Kempton Turner words from yesterday’s post. Furthermore, I think that it could be used as a great “spiritual discussion” starter for older children (late elementary) and youth.

Building Our Lives on the Bible

Ever have the Monday blahs? Does the week ahead seem long and difficult? Then watch this short video and be exhorted and encouraged by Pastor Kempton Turner from his message “Your Testimonies Are My Delight.”

Encouraging Biblical Literacy in Our Nurseries

No, the title is not a mistake. We can encourage biblical literacy among the youngest babies in our care. How so? First of all, babies can begin to learn (absorb) important Bible “skills,” such as the skill of hearing and listening to the words of the Bible and its key themes. This can be done by doing the following:

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