Archive - December, 2014

Much More Than a Story

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These days it has become very commonplace to describe the Bible as a “story.” God’s own story. One great interconnected story from beginning to end. An absolutely true story. The story of how God sent His Son into the world to rescue sinners like us. The Gospel story. The most important story ever told…All these statements are true. So yes, let’s be diligent to teach children the story of the Bible. But let’s also be very intentional to teach our children that…

The Bible is much more than a story—it is God’s authoritative Word.

Why is this distinction important? Here are a few reasons:

  • The Bible describes itself in terms that go beyond its story-like nature. For example:

Forever, O LORD, your word is firmly fixed in the heavens. (Psalm 119:89 ESV)

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, (2 Timothy 3:16 ESV)

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12 ESV)

You have commanded your precepts to be kept diligently. (Psalm 119:4 ESV)

  •  Children will encounter thousands of stories in their lifetime. To simply describe the Bible as a story (albeit the most important story) does not give the Bible the respect and diligence due God’s holy Word. The Bible must “stand apart” in our minds and hearts, not only as a unique story, but also as the authoritative Word of the Living God. There are many stories, but there is no other authoritative Word of God.
  • Recognizing the Bible as God’s authoritative Word makes a proper response to it more imperative. Good stories tend to draw children in by appealing to their emotions and feelings. The story of the Bible—especially the Gospel—serves to do this, too. But the power of the Word goes beyond appealing to our emotions. For example, the Bible does not simply ask, “Do you love Jesus? Would you like to follow Him?” Rather, it communicates an authoritative life and death command from our sovereign Creator to “Repent and believe the Gospel.”
  • The true, authoritative Word of God declares the unchanging character of God, His wisdom and commands to help us live fulfilling and victorious lives, and the reality of man’s feelings poured out to God in the Psalms as man struggles to trust God. Though these truths can be seen in the stories of the Bible, they are somewhat opaque and left to our discerning. But set in the declarative statements of the Word, they are clear, sure, convicting, and powerful.

From Genesis to Revelation, the Bible is a beautiful, seamless, grand story. But it is also much more than a story. It is the authoritative Word of God—absolute, objective, universal, and unchanging truth. So, as parents and teachers, let’s be careful to give our children the weight of the Word of God as God’s clear declaration of His character, His dealings with man, His work in the world and faithfulness to His people, His expectations of man, and His sure promises.

(Image courtesy of Arvind Balaraman at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.)

God’s Battle Now Available

The Christian life is no Disney adventure. It’s a dangerous journey to the Celestial City and we spend much of it fighting for faith and for the faith. Our children need to learn early on what the battle is all about, what it’s like to fight, and how to survive. Sally Michael’s book is itself a weapon for the war, because it equips us to equip our children for the fight of their lives.—Jon Bloom, President, Desiring God

Sally Michael’s new full-color, illustrated book, God’s Battle uses the Gospel message to introduce children to the state of their hearts, and then awakens them to the many battlegrounds that surround us—both from our own sinful hearts and from the enemy’s attacks. She encourages children to be fighters, giving them a biblical battle strategy to depend on God, resist the enemy, and stand strong! Each chapter includes personal application and activities.

 

God’s Battle was written to read with elementary-age children and has 26 chapters, each about four pages long. Each chapter concludes with suggested application questions and family activities. This book is perfect for use during family devotions times.

The Story behind Jesus is Most Special

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In the heart of every Christian grandmother is the desire that her grandchildren know Jesus as their Savior. This was my heart desire seven years ago when I wrote the text to Jesus is Most Special. It didn’t start out as text for a children’s book about the birth of Christ. It was simply the expression of one grandmother’s heart that her granddaughter would know of God’s love in sending the Savior.

At the time, my elder daughter, Amy, and her husband, Gary, were living in St. John’s, Newfoundland with my eldest grandchild, Anna, who was then three years old. As I thought about the miles between us and pondered how I could nurture a spiritual interest and understanding in Anna’s heart, the Lord put it in my heart to tell Anna the Christmas story via the written word. I had no pictures to send her, so I suggested that Amy and Gary use a nativity set in telling the story. (more…)

Teaching Truth from a Heart Gripped by Truth

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My 3-year-old grandson David was nestled close to me as I read from a children’s story book. As I read the story to him, I couldn’t help but break out laughing in places—it was a delightful story. Somewhere in the middle of the story, David interrupted and looked up at me with a big smile and said, “You’re happy, Gramma!” “Yes David, I’m happy.” “I’m happy, too.” Even though David wasn’t able to understand everything in the story, he did understand that the story made gramma happy. And that caught his attention.

That little incident made me think back several years ago to when I was teaching a lesson in first-grade Sunday school. I can’t remember the particular lesson (from The ABCs of God curriculum), but I remember very vividly what happened after the lesson. Our Pastor for Children had been observing me teach, and afterward he gently pointed out, “You didn’t seem very joyful in your teaching.” There I was, teaching children about the greatest joy and treasure in the universe—God Himself—and I was communicating this life-giving truth, without joy! I wonder if that caught the children’s attention?

You see, on that particular day, I had simply come prepared to “teach a lesson,” and it came across as dry and indifferent information. Yes, truth was taught, but my joyless demeanor made it seem like I was telling the children how to fill out a tax form. That isn’t to say that authentic teaching is always evidenced by a smiling face and laughter. Sometimes conveying the truth with genuine brokenness and humility is most appropriate. The main point is this: Before we teach, our hearts should first be gripped and shaped by the truths we are to communicate—truths such as…the splendor, majesty, and holiness of God; the desperate condition of sinful man; the amazing grace that God extends to sinners; the matchless worth of Jesus; the good news of the cross; etc.

Here is a wonderful and challenging thought for every teacher and parent to ponder:

Teachers and parents who do not exult over God in their teaching will not bring about exultation in God. Dry, unemotional, indifferent teaching about God—whether at home or at church—is a half-truth, at best. It says one thing about God and portrays another thing. It is inconsistent. It says that God is great, but teaches as if God is not great.

Psalm 145:4 shows us another way: “One generation shall praise Your works to another.” Let praises carry the truth to the next generation, because the aim of truth is praise. The aim of education is exultation. So let education model exultation in the way it is done.

(John Piper, Copyright ©2013 Desiring God Foundation, www.desiringGod.org)

(Image courtesy of Photostock at freedigitalphotos.net.)

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