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.)

God in Our Nurseries

I found these words from an old (1987) article by Pastor John Piper to be very encouraging for those of us who minister to children—especially for those who work in our church nurseries. Often nursery workers are seen as “baby-sitters” whose main job is to merely provide a safe environment for little ones while their parents are involved in the “real and important” ministries of the church. May these words be an urgent reminder to the church today:

Jesus took the child-belittling culture of his day which defined “greatness” to exclude “receiving children” and he turned it upside down. He said: “Receiving children in my name is the world’s least, and the world’s least is my great.” So wherever the Spirit of Christ pervades, the people who receive children will no longer be the “least.” They will be “great.”

Really? Why? Because to receive a child in Jesus’ name (i.e., out of love, in his strength, and for his glory) is to receive Jesus, and to receive Jesus is to receive God the Father. Which means that Nursery may be more full of God than any other room in the church.

(From Breakfast, Benjamin and Baby-Work, copyright 2013 Desiring God Foundation. Used by permission.)

Does your church long for a God-centered vision of nursery ministry? Check out our resource, A Sure Foundation: A Philosophy and Curriculum for Ministry to Infants and Toddlers. Here is a description:

The church nursery should be an exciting and vital ministry in the church. It should be a launching pad for nurturing the faith of the next generation. A Sure Foundation: A Philosophy and Curriculum for Ministry to Infants and Toddlers is designed to help you transform your ministry to infants and toddlers into an integral beginning—a place of prayer for young children, a place where they hear foundational Bible stories, and a place where children learn simple truth statements and begin to memorize Scripture as they form their language skills.

Nov. 8th “Friday Contest” Winner

Congratulations to Deb, the winner of our Nov. 8th Friday Contest! Check back this Friday for our next contest.

Teaching By Example

In her seminar titled, “Teaching Children the Fear of the Lord,” Sally Michael reminds us of the importance of teaching from a heart that loves and embraces the truths being taught.

Like so many spiritual things, the fear of the Lord is better “caught” than “taught.” Children very often pick up our attitudes—those we respect, they tend to respect. Our attitude toward God is also sensed by them—not so much by our words, but by our actions, and our heart affections; it is very easy for them to sense what we feel, to honor what we honor, and to disregard what we disregard.

So the first step we must take in helping our children to fear the Lord is to examine our own hearts. Here are a few questions we can ask ourselves:

• Am I humble and contrite before the Lord, respecting His authority over me, and recognizing His infinite greatness?

• How seriously do I take the word of God? Do I tremble at God’s Word? Do I diligently apply it to my life, obey its commands conscientiously, take its warnings seriously, and heed its teaching? Do I take in the whole scope of Scripture, even the hard truths and stories?

• Do I submit to God’s authority over me joyfully and willingly? Do I complain about His providences or trust Him in them?

• Do I live in daily awareness of His presence recognizing that all I do, say, think, and feel are before His gaze?

• Am I eager to follow and obey God, or am I straining to get my own way? Am I consistent in my obedience?

• Am I grateful for His correction and discipline?

• Do I hate evil? Do I quickly turn away from it, not entertaining anything that would pollute my soul?

This is not an exhaustive list but it does lead us to examine our hearts. Perhaps the overarching question we must ask is: Can we say to our children, “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1 ESV).

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