Archive - November, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving from Children Desiring God!

Thanksgiving Day

Happy Thanksgiving from the Children Desiring God family! We hope you enjoy a special day with your family and friends celebrating ways God has blessed you this year.

We are thankful for God’s grace to us in the past year and for your support and prayers as we spread a passion for the supremacy of God in all things so that the next generations may know and cherish Jesus Christ as the only one who saves and satisfies the desires of the heart.

 

 

 

Why This Holiday?

For a Christian, every day—even every moment—should be filled with thanksgiving to God, especially as we enjoy the greatest provision ever given to us: the gift of His Son, which secures our redemption so that we might glorify Him forever! But it is not just the Christian who owes heartfelt thanksgiving to God. As Scripture reminds us,

The Lord is good to all, and his mercy is over all that he has made. (Psalm 145:9 ESV)

The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. (Acts 17:24-25 ESV)

As we celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday in the United States, it may be a good time to remind our children of the historical roots outlining the purpose of this holiday. Whether true Christians or not, the men who established this holiday understood the truth and necessity of divine providence in the life of a nation and our need to recognize and express thankfulness to Almighty God.

Here are the words of President George Washington

Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor—and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.

Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be—That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks—for his kind care and protection of the People of this Country previous to their becoming a Nation—for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his Providence which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war—for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed—for the peaceable and rational manner, in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted—for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed; and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.

And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions—to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually—to render our national government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed—to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shewn kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord—To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the encrease of science among them and us—and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.

Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.

Creative Ideas for Celebrating Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Day provides a wonderful opportunity to point out evidences of God’s goodness, provision, and grace to our children. So this Thanksgiving Day, consider some creative ways to focus on God’s goodness from which expressions of thanksgiving and praise can flow from young and old alike. Here are a few ideas to get your creative juices flowing:

  • Read a children’s book together that commemorates the historical holiday from a distinctly Christian perspective. For example, Squanto and the Miracle of Thanksgiving by Eric Metaxas.
  • Assign each member of the family to read a “thanksgiving” verse before the meal. Example of verses: 1 Chronicles 16:8-9; Psalm 7:17; Psalm 79:13; Psalm 86:12-13; Psalm 100:4-5; Psalm 106:1; Acts 17:24-25; 1 Corinthians 15:55-57; Philippians 4:6-7; Colossians 3:15-17; 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18.
  • Have the children make special placemats for the Thanksgiving meal that include a Bible verse (from the list above).
  • Make a thanksgiving collage: Give the children old magazines, calendars, family photos, etc. Have them cut out pictures that represent things for which we should be thankful to God. Glue the pictures onto a large piece of poster board. Use a verse such as Psalm 107:1 as the title of the poster.
  • Before eating the meal, sing the Doxology or another hymn together.
  • Give each member of the family an index card. Have them write or draw something for which they are thankful to God. Fold the index cards in half when completed and place them in a large bowl. Pass the bowl around and have each family member pick a card from the bowl and read or display picture. Talk about how good God is in providing each example, and then see if people can guess who created each card.
  • Read and talk about a historical formation of the holiday, such as President George Washington’s  or Lincoln’s  Thanksgiving Proclamations.

Do you have a family tradition or an additional activity to share? Leave us a comment. We would love other readers to benefit from your ideas.

 

Why Our Children Need the Doctrine of Total Depravity

I really resonated with this article by Jon Bloom: “Don’t Raise Good Kids.” I had a very similar experience growing up as a well-behaved, compliant child. It wasn’t until late in my teen years that I was presented with the doctrine of my total depravity and my desperate need for a Savior. It was shocking for a “good” kid like me to finally learn and accept the truth after living in an environment that constantly affirmed my outward goodness.

Here are some important words to ponder from his article:

Goodness is not behavior that ranks above the median line relative to other sinful people. Goodness is a fruit of faith (Galatians 5:22). When good kids’ behavior isn’t flowing from a deep trust in God, they’re being good for bad reasons. They’re just hellions in a compliant disguise.

The good news is that Jesus came to save hellions! But it’s crucial that hellions know they’re hellions, because “those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. [Jesus] came not to call the righteous, but sinners” (Mark 2:17).

So parents, make sure you have a firm grip on the true doctrine of total depravity so that you don’t encourage evil goodness in your children. For apart from Jesus, nothing good dwells in them (Romans 7:18).

You can read the entire article here.

 

Photo Credit

Being Good is Not Good Enough

JWS_Hearts_Blog

If you did not heard our exciting news last week, we have officially released the revised version of Jesus, What a Savior!

Jesus What a Savior! is a 40 week Sunday school curriculum designed to teacher Kindergartners about Redemption. In the curriculum, author Jill Nelson shares why she wrote the curriculum.

A few years ago, I asked a class of first grade children, “How does a person get saved from their sin?” Many eager hands went up. The responses of these eager children? “By obeying God,” “By being kind to people,” “By being real good.” Not one child made reference to Jesus’ death on the cross for sinners. It was not that these children did not know about the cross and its message, but it was not on the front burner of their hearts and minds. And so, the curriculum, Jesus, What a Savior! was born.

In Jesus, What a Savior!, children are presented with these main themes:

  • The incomparable greatness and worth of God, who is to be desired and treasured above all things (represented by a silver heart).
  • The desperate condition of sinners who have fallen short of treasuring the glory of God and are totally helpless to save themselves (represented by a darkened heart).
  • The all-sufficient work of Jesus on the cross to save sinners who put their trust in Him (represented by a red heart).

This is the glorious Gospel of Jesus! Salvation from sin cannot be found in any other person or place. Obeying God will not save us from our sin. Being kind will not save us from our sin. Being good will not save us from our sin.  Only Jesus is able to save us from our sins.

 

This “Experienced” Teacher Has a Lot to Learn

For the first time in 28 years, I am not teaching in children’s ministries at our church. It feels very weird to not be teaching, but at the same time, this teaching sabbatical has been very good for me. After all these years, I am discovering just how inexperienced I am. Let me explain.

This year, CDG is doing a series of regional conferences called Impact: The Next Generation. One of the privileges I have had during these conferences is meeting with teachers. In hearing their stories and experiences, I have to confess: I’ve had it easy these past 28 years! You see, for the most part, I have had the following experience:

  • Wonderful leadership that has trained, supported, and encouraged me.
  • Facilities that were designed with the needs of children in mind.
  • A fully supplied classroom and with all the additional teaching resources available.
  • A fully staffed classroom—a team of faithful coworkers who shared classroom responsibilities making the load joyfully manageable.
  • A single age-group of children to teach in my class, consisting mainly of children from Christian families.

The above just isn’t the case for many teachers. Some teachers struggle with inadequate facilities and understaffed classrooms. Some must figure out how to meet the diverse learning needs when teaching a group that includes 5-year-olds to 12-year-olds. Some must deal with students who don’t have English as their first language. Some must try to compensate for the lack of any Christian witness in the home. And the list could go on and on!

But what I find so encouraging is how teachers—and maybe you are one of them—have come up with creative solutions to “make it work” in spite of these kinds of difficulties. You love the Lord, love His Word, and love the children in your care. You persevere in proclaiming to the next generation “the glorious deeds of the LORD, and his might, and the wonders that he has done…so that they should set their hope in God…”  (Psalm 78:4, 7 ESV)

So this coming year, I hope to humbly learn from these teachers. I hope to gain valuable insights from their experiences so that I might become a better teacher. Through the process I hope to also become a more thoughtful curriculum writer.

This teacher still has a lot to learn! Thank you to all those teachers who are now teaching me.

The Gospel Song—An Animation

Wonderful!

(Words by Drew Jones, Music by Bob Kauflin, copyright 2002, Sovereign Grace Praise (BMI)/Sovereign Grace Worship (ASCAP), sovereigngracemusic.org, with an excerpt from John Piper’s The Gospel in 6 Minutes, copyright 2013 Desiring God Foundation. Used by permission.)

Now Available: Jesus, What a Savior! Revised

Carousel_JWS_OrderNow_Blog

Children Desiring God is excited to announce the release of the revised version of Jesus, What a Savior! This 40-week Sunday school curriculum is designed to teach Kindergartners redemptive history. We have been working hard to improve the ways in which our curriculum equips teachers, engages students and impacts families:

  • Updated lessons provide teachers with devotionals and prayer points, incorporate more teacher-student interaction, maintain a consistent length and are formatted in a cleaner format that is easier to teach from.
  • New and expanded application questions help small group leaders guide children to apply truths taught in the lesson to their hearts. Questions complement the Student Workbook which has been redesigned to be more interactive for children.
  • Original, full-color visuals capture the attention of young learners and help teach important truths of the lessons.
  • Optional Activities to help teachers with longer class times reinforce lesson themes and encourage Scripture memory in interactive ways.
  • Growing in Faith Together: Parent and Child Resource Pages prompt spiritual conversations and help parents fulfill the calling to shepherd their children.

Visit the following links to learn more about the revised version of Jesus, What a Savior!:

Learn more about available products and place your order!

View a sample of the curriculum and the curriculum Scope and Sequence.

Do you currently own a copy of Jesus, What a Savior!? Read about upgrade options or call customer service at 800.477.1414 to place your upgrade order.

 

Grace and Truth—Truth and Grace

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

(John 1:14 ESV)

In his book, The Grace and Truth Paradox: Responding With Christlike Balance, Randy Alcorn makes the following observations that are helpful in examining our hearts, and also in examining what we teach and the manner in which we teach it to our children and students,

Truth-oriented Christians love studying Scripture and theology. But sometimes they’re quick to judge and slow to forgive. They’re strong on truth and weak on grace.

Grace-oriented Christians love forgiveness and freedom. But sometimes they neglect Bible study and see moral standards as legalism. They’re strong on grace and weak on truth.

Countless mistakes in marriage, parenting, ministry, and other relationships are failures to balance grace and truth. Sometimes we neglect both. Often we choose one over the other.

A paradox is an apparent contradiction. Grace and truth aren’t really contradictory. Jesus didn’t switch on truth and then turn it off so He could switch on grace. Both are permanently switched on in Jesus. Both should be switched on in us.

What would Jesus do? There is always one answer: He would act in grace and truth.

Truth without grace breeds a self-righteous legalism that poisons the church and pushes the world away from Christ.

Grace without truth breeds moral indifference and keeps people from seeing their need for Christ.

Attempts to “soften” the gospel by minimizing truth keep people from Jesus. Attempts to “toughen” the gospel by minimizing grace keep people from Jesus. It’s not enough for us to offer grace or truth.

We must offer both.

 (copyright©2003, pages 17-18)

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

(John 1:14 ESV)

Lullaby Theology 101: Singing the Whole Counsel of God

By Sarah House

At two years old, David is finding his singing voice. From the backseat he warbles about “The Wheels of the Bus,” and in the bathtub he chirps out “The Itsy, Bitsy Spider.” But yesterday I found him on our bed, thumbing through daddy’s Bible, singing “Jesus Loves Me.” We got out the ESV Bible my parents gave David when he was born and sat on the bed, looking at the pictures and singing the songs he had learned about God. One of those songs was Praise Him, Praise Him, All Ye Little Children:

Praise Him, praise Him, all ye little children,
God is love, God is love;
Praise Him, praise Him, all ye little children,
God is love, God is love.

I’ve sung this many times around a circle of unruly toddlers and over crying babies in the nursery. When David was born, I started singing it to him at home as he sat in his chair and watched me cook, wash dishes, and fold laundry. Singing truth is a great way to redeem the “mundane” time, putting into practice the commands of Deuteronomy 6:4-7 with children while getting ordinary things done. Rhythm and simple melody make truths easier to learn and brings cheerfulness to otherwise boring chores (really boring chores if you’re only three months old and can only sit and watch).

However, as I worked and sang through my small repertoire of baby praise songs, I began to notice what a small picture of God I was painting for David. There is no doubt that God is love, and that it is important for the smallest and most vulnerable people to know that—but God has many other attributes as well. Having spent six years teaching The ABCs of God  to first grade students at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, I could think of at least 35 other words about God…Almighty, Creator, Faithful, Holy, Jealous, Righteous, Merciful, Wrath, Patient, Sovereign, Wise, Incomprehensible (my students’ favorite word), to name only a few. These are also truths David needs to know.

I started to list all of the one-syllable, simple adjectives describing God that I could substitute for “love” in the song: good, wise, just, kind, strong, big, near, great, king, etc. I began to add more verses to Praise Him, Praise Him All Ye Little Children. Even though the song grew much longer, the view of God became much bigger and grander. And that is just what a little child needs…

  • He needs a God who is good—who always is good, does good, and gives good things like fields full of dandelions, little sisters, puppy kisses, and even medicine and flu vaccines.
  • He needs a God who is wise—to send rain to water the grass at the park, to make rules about obeying mommy and daddy, to make it dark for nighttime.
  • He needs a God who is strong—who never grows tired or crabby, who cannot be stopped from doing His purposes, who can carry His children through all of life, even when earthly daddies can’t.
  • He needs a God who is big—bigger than anything he is afraid of (the dark, owls, mommy leaving, etc.) and bigger than himself, a God who is the boss of everyone, including toddlers.
  • He needs a God who is near—who is everywhere all the time, even in the middle of the night when parents are sleeping.
  • He even needs a God who is just—who is the standard of right and wrong, who judges and disciplines rightly.
  • He needs a God who is great—a hero who never fails, never grows boring, and really deserves to be worshiped and followed.

We love to sing about the love of God to children because we so want them to experience His love, to know His tender care, and to see His smile of favor. God is love, and that’s a good place to start, but we can’t stop there because the Bible doesn’t stop there. What toddlers don’t need is another warm and fuzzy “god bear” to cuddle for comfort. They need God. When fears, confusion, and rebellion come as threatening storms into his world, David needs the Lion-Lamb God of the Bible, who not only quiets His children with His love, but who vanquishes enemies with a mighty hand. If we truly want our children to truly praise God for His love, we must place His love within the whole counsel of God, including big words that toddlers may not fully understand for a while.

It will be a long time before David can read all the words the Bible uses to describe God, but until then he can learn to sing them and say them. The words he learns now will prepare his brain and his heart for deeper teaching when he is older. But even now, his little ears are listening, and his young mind can understand more than we imagine. So we sing, and pray that he will come to love and trust the God all those important words are about.

Page 1 of 212»