Archive - February, 2015

What I Learned from a 3-year-old

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One of the great benefits of ministering to children is the way God uses them to minister us—for example, their wonderful excitement over simple gifts of God, gifts like blowing bubbles. Oh, that we might express that much excitement and give thanks to God for every good gift! There are also times that children are like “mirrors of the heart,” showing us things we, as sophisticated adults, have learned to cover up with proper and respectable outward behavior.

This hit home the other day as I observed my 3-year-old grandson. He had been over for a visit when his mother informed him it was time to put on his jacket and get ready to go home. He didn’t want to, and he proceeded to have a “melt-down,” evidenced with all the characteristic actions of a child who wants his own way. When his mother reminded him of Ephesians 6:1, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.” (ESV) David’s response was to lie down on the floor and repeatedly wail, “But I don’t want to obey! I don’t want to obey!” What a sight! This child needs Jesus!

But after David went home, I got to thinking: Although I don’t lie on the floor and wail out, “I don’t want to obey!” that is often what my heart is expressing to God. My outward behavior is much better disciplined than a 3-year-old, but too often my heart is having a big-time temper tantrum. My 3-year-old grandson served as an important heart mirror for me that day. He showed me: This adult needs Jesus, too!

(Image courtesy of Clare Bloomfield at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.)

 

Is a Biblical Worldview Enough?

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I am an enthusiastic proponent of giving our children and students a biblical worldview. They should know how the Bible is relevant to all of life. They should be taught to think biblically about everything: education, government, music, technology, sports, culture, other religions, etc. I am all for using solid resources that train and equip our children in this endeavor. But here is a really good reminder from Stephen Altrogge:

…the older I get, the more I realize that it’s not enough to give my children a biblical worldview. I’ve seen too many of my childhood friends grow up to reject the biblical worldview that was so furiously drummed into them as children. I’ve seen too many people make choices that they know are in direct contradiction to the worldview they embraced for so many years. I’ve seen too many train wrecks to think that worldview alone is enough.

Worldview is important, but it’s only one part of the equation. A biblical worldview helps a person think correctly. But we are not purely intellectual beings. We don’t operate solely based on ideas and thoughts. We are flesh and blood, with passions, desires, and longings. We feel things deeply and desire things strongly. Our intellects and desires are intricately interwoven, interacting with and informing each other.

If I’m going to be an effective, godly parent, I need to appeal to my kids affections as much as their intellects. They need to see that the Bible makes sense, but they also need to see that Jesus is supremely delightful.

(“A Solid Worldview Won’t Save My Kids” at www.theblazingcenter.com)

 You can read the entire article here.

 

Gospel Truth: God’s Creator Rights

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Here is a book I highly recommend for every parent and teacher: What is the Gospel? by Greg Gilbert. As I read it, I gave up putting Post-it® Notes on pages to mark memorable quotes—too many! Pastor Gilbert carefully explains the essence and “essentials” of the Gospel. In doing so, he also reveals some important “blind-spots” in how the Gospel is sometimes understood and communicated. In my experience, many of these blind-spots are often found in children’s resources. For example, he highlights the necessity of communicating the truth of God’s Creator rights from the beginning:

None of us is autonomous, and understanding that fact is key to understanding the gospel. Despite our constant talk of rights and liberty, we are not really as free as we would like to think. We are created. We are made. And therefore we are owned.

Because he created us, God has the right to tell us how to live…

Some understanding of this is absolutely necessary if a person wants to understand the good news of Christianity. The gospel is God’s response to the bad news of sin, and sin is a person’s rejection of God’s Creator-rights over him. Thus the fundamental truth of human existence, the well from which all else flows, is that God created us, and therefore God owns us.

(copyright©2010, page 42)

How are we doing in conveying this important truth to children? Yes, we are to rightly emphasize that we are made by God and, as such, are His unique, special, and beloved image bearers, but…

  • Are we also giving children a proper and humbling view of God as our sovereign Ruler?
  • Are we teaching them what it means to be under God’s absolute authority in every aspect of life?
  • In our explanation of sin, do we point out the grave offense of our rebellion against God’s sovereign, good, and loving rule? For example, do we point out that sin is much more than simply doubting God’s love and goodness? At its depth, sin is something like shaking your fist at your Creator and telling Him, “I will not obey! You cannot tell me what to do!”
  • Do we portray Jesus in all His divine authority? Do we use titles such as “Lord” and “Master,” as well as Savior?
  • When we present the good news of the gospel, are we giving the children the proper sense of Jesus’ authority when He commands: “Repent and believe in the gospel”? In other words, it is not simply an invitation to respond in a certain way but also a command from your sovereign Creator.

One way we can begin helping our children in understanding God’s Creator rights is to give children a robust understanding of the attributes of God. When children are taught that God is almighty, eternal, holy, righteous, omniscient, sovereign, etc., they can better understand the great divide between God and creature, showing His absolute good and loving authority and our utter dependence on Him. As they recognize the incomparable greatness and worth of God, submission to His authority is more likely to be seen as a delight, and not simply a duty.

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