Archive - July, 2015

Will They Open Their Bibles?

Yes, there are many new ways to present the great truths of the Bible—video, digital media, etc. Some are especially appealing to children and youth. As a teacher, it can be very tempting to simply play a well-done, aesthetically pleasing Bible story video that the children will enjoy watching. But before you hit the power button, listen to this message from Pastor David Michael.


Calling All Grandparents and Seniors


When I first became a grandparent four years ago, people would ask: “How do you like being a grandma?” My answer typically was something like, “It’s great! All of the benefits of having children without the responsibilities.”…A bad answer for many reasons! The most important reason being…

Give ear, O my people, to my teaching;

incline your ears to the words of my mouth!

I will open my mouth in a parable;

I will utter dark sayings from of old,

things that we have heard and known,

that our fathers have told us.

We will not hide them from their children,

but tell to the coming generation

the glorious deeds of the LORD, and his might,

and the wonders that he has done.

(Psalm 78:1-4 ESV)

As a grandparent, I have a great responsibility to my own grandchildren, and to the next generation—especially the children in my church. I am to proclaim the glorious deeds of the LORD and the wonders He has done. That is my calling, no matter how old I get! Whether reading Bible stories to my grandchildren and praying with and for them, teaching in Sunday school, volunteering in nursery, being a mentor to a teen, bringing a meal to a busy young mother…the list of possibilities goes on and on. Each can be used as a means to proclaim to the next generation the glorious deeds of the LORD.

Grandparents and seniors: Don’t “check-out” during these years! You have a wonderful and crucial calling from the Lord. This fall, explore how you can invest your time and gifts for the glory of God and the joy of the next generation.

(Image courtesy of photostock at

Give Them THE Book


A recent news report contends that the state of Minnesota is now ranked #1 in terms of child-wellbeing. Supposedly, children living in Minnesota are doing better than children in other states. What did they base their finding on? They used four categories: economic wellbeing, health, family and community, and education.  Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, they missed the most important category—salvation through faith in Jesus. That is the only true measure of a child’s eternal wellbeing. With that in mind, recall Paul’s words to Timothy:

But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. (2 Timothy 3:14-15, ESV)

Now read these thoughts from Tim Challies:

…Timothy’s mother and grandmother had introduced him to the Bible, to what he calls “the sacred writings.” And the Bible had done its work in Timothy. The Bible had made all the difference. It had made Timothy wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. It had saved his soul and turned him into the man he had become.

I find this such a sweet and timely encouragement. There are so many ways in which I feel my failure as a parent. There are so many things I hear other parents doing and find myself wishing that I was doing them as well. But in Paul’s words I am reminded that my primary task as a father is to simply expose my children to God’s Word. Whatever else I do, I must do this. And I do. Day by day we read God’s Word together and week by week we hear it preached and taught together. As much as we can, we make our home one where the Word is present and honored.

I am more convinced than ever that nothing will make a greater difference in the lives of my children than this—than exposure to the perfect, powerful Word of God. If I do that, I am doing the right thing. I am doing the best thing. I am doing the one thing that matters most.

(from “The One Thing That Matters Most” at )

Also, on a related note, you might enjoy a glimpse of what the Challies family Bible and worship time looks like here.


(Image courtesy of Arvind Balaraman at

Presenting God’s Truth as a Beautiful Treasure

ID-100313121As a long-time Sunday school teacher, I sadly must admit that there have been many times when my heart attitude was not right when I entered the classroom. It might be that I was frustrated and simply in a bad mood. Or, I hadn’t taken the time to really prepare the lesson. Sometimes I had prepared the Bible lesson, but I didn’t treat the truths in it as sweeter than honey or more precious than gold. These thoughts came to mind as I read this illustration given by John Younts:

If you bought your daughter a gold necklace for her birthday, how would you give it to her? Would you ball it up and toss it to her on her way out the door? Of course not! Would you not rather place the necklace in a jewelry box, wrap it beautifully, pick a special moment, and then give it to her? If you just balled up the necklace and threw it at her, she would probably think the necklace was on the bargain table at the dollar store. Too often, we hurl admonitions at our kids in the heat of battle, propelled by frustration and anger. Proverbs encourages you to present God’s truth as the precious gift that it is. How you present it is likely to have a great influence on how children receive it.

(from Everyday Talk: Talking Freely and Naturally about God with Your Children, copyright©2004, pages 17-18)

May we as parents and/or teachers always be mindful of how we present God’s truths to our children and students. Does our teaching attitude, style, method, etc. reflect the incomparable, priceless treasure of who God is? As a teacher, one way to strive toward this is to spend more time in spiritual preparation as we prepare our lessons—spending time reading the Scripture passages and meditating on them, praying that the Holy Spirit would be at work giving us understanding and transforming our own hearts and minds. In doing this, it will be more likely that our own hearts will be gripped by the treasure of God’s Word, so that when we teach we will present God’s truth with the honor and worth it deserves.

(Image courtesy of sattva at



Why Use a Catechism?


Ligonier Ministries has posted this really helpful article by Joel Beeke: “The Blessing of Catechizing Our Children.” For those unfamiliar with what is meant by catechism, and why it is an important tool in training children (and adults) in the Christian faith, Mr. Beeke states the following:

Creeds and catechisms are other valuable tools or methods by which we may communicate the truths of the Word of God to our children. These documents provide clear, concise definitions of basic doctrines and key words in easily memorized form so our children can hide them in their hearts. Bible references (“proof texts”) anchor these definitions in Scripture. The catechisms not only teach basic Christian doctrine, but also show us how to live according to God’s law and how to pray. When we catechize our children, they learn the basic truths of Christian faith and living, and we reinforce and deepen our own knowledge of them.

Our English word catechism is derived from the Greek word katecheo, meaning “to sound from above,” “to recount something,” or “to instruct someone.” For example, Acts 18:25 says that Apollos, the great preacher of the apostolic age, “was instructed in the way of the Lord.” Luke wrote his gospel, or “declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us,” for the sake of “the most excellent Theophilus, that thou mightest know the certainty of those things, wherein thou hast been instructed” (Luke 1:1–4). These verses indicate that Apollos and Theophilus had been catechized.

As time passed, basic Christian instruction, or “catechesis,” was cast in the form of questions and answers, and this form remains in use today. In carefully scripted dialogue between teacher and student, questions are posed and answers are given. The answer is provided not just to be memorized, but also to give the teacher opportunity to explain it. Scripture proofs help teacher and student trace the answers back to their sources in the Bible. Specific catechisms have been prepared to serve all age levels, from the youngest children up through all levels of development into adulthood.

Here are just a few resources you might want to take a look at to get you started:

Upcoming Event: This is such an important method of teaching our kids about God that Sally Michael will be presenting a seminar on this at our upcoming conference. Click here for more information.


(Image courtesy of Arvind Balaraman at

Not a Cat or Dog Gospel

ID-10030497As a mom who has, over the years, given her children both cats (which I don’t love) and dogs (I love them!), and as someone who cares deeply about accurately communicating the Gospel to children, I found this old post by Pastor Kevin DeYoung both humorous and, tragically, spot on:

Some people have a gospel according cats.

And others have a gospel according to dogs.

The gospel according to cats has God saying, “Please me. Stroke me. Fear me. Don’t get too close to me. Love me. Serve me and I may pay attention to you on occasion.” It portrays God as someone who is fickle, preening, and demanding.

The gospel according to dogs has God saying, “I love everything about you. You never upset me. You never do anything wrong.  Don’t ever change. I don’t care what you do or who you are. You are my master and I love you. I am so happy to be with you—no matter what!” It portrays God as someone desperate for affection, without standards and without any real concern for our behavior or well-being.

The gospel according to cats offers no grace. The gospels according to dogs expects no obedience. Take your pick: a Christianity without mercy or a Christianity without repentance. Neither are truly Christian.

Don’t trade the bad news of finicky love for the false gospel of unconditional affirmation. There is more to grace than “it’s okay” and more to the law than “shape up.”

 (“The Gospel According to Cats and Dogs” at

Why is this tragically spot on? Because many Bible resources for children, to varying degrees, have tended to portray God and the Gospel message in either of these two ways.

At Children Desiring God, we care deeply about being faithful to the true message of the Gospel. That is why we believe it is so important to first give our students a deep and expansive vision of God—one that focuses on the deep meaning of His holiness. Within this context, the children can then see how the central message of the Bible culminates in the person and work of Jesus—the Gospel—in which He brings sinners near to God. The Gospel is simple, yet amazingly profound, freely offered, yet extremely costly, and should be communicated as such.

(Image courtesy of Vlado at

What Will Win Your Youth?

ID-100103856It can be an anxious time for many parents—those often turbulent teen years. How can the church help and assist parents during these years? Well, one way is to continue to provide youth with deep and engaging Bible teaching. In her seminar, “Teaching Youth and Engaging Their Hearts,” Sally Michael emphasized the following:

The junior high years are where we start to see great divides—those who truly love the Lord and are maturing in faith; and those who are clearly rejecting what they have been taught, and even those who simply portray apathy (which is a form of rebellion). Some of the students you will be teaching are not saved—so you need to teach reflecting that there are Christians and non-Christians in the class. 

What will reach not just their heads, but their hearts and wills?

There are those who say that we must win them over with interesting stories, silly stunts, and relevant speech. Others say you win teens over by entertaining them, by making church “fun” so they want to come to church.

Greg Harris has stated—“What you win them with is what you will win them to.”

What we want to win them to is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We want to win them to putting their confidence in Jesus alone for the forgiveness of their sins. We want them to respond to the Gospel in faith.

Is it fun that converts the soul? Is it entertaining stories and relating to teens with the latest teen language?

This is what the Bible tells us generates faith:

Romans 10:17—So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

It is our job to impart the words of life—to teach the truth about who God is, who we are, and what Jesus did to solve our sin problem. We must continue to teach whether they show interest or not—I’m not advocating for droning on—we must make our teaching interesting and put energy into it. But I am saying that they must hear the Word—if they do not respond now, they may respond later to the reservoir of truth we have poured into them. The Holy Spirit does not work in a vacuum –He works through the Word.

(Image courtesy of Ambro at

Your Teaching Tone

ID-100158151Imagine you are preparing to teach your students a lesson that includes the following passage:

And one called to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!” And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!” (Isaiah 6:3-5 ESV)

What type of tone would be appropriate when reading this passage aloud to the students? Will the tone you use serve to help or hinder your students in better understanding the meaning of the text?

Tone: mode of expression, inflection, modulation, accentuation, mood, attitude, temper, etc. As a teacher (or parent), the tone you use to communicate a certain truth may either serve to help or hinder the learner in understanding and applying that truth. The above passage spoken in a quiet, sweet, comforting  voice would not help your students understand and feel the weight of the text. In a similar way, it would not be helpful to use a loud, forceful voice to convey the meaning of Matthew 11:28,

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

This topic came to mind as I read Pastor Mark Vroegop’s article, “Is Your Preaching Tone Deaf?” Though he was writing specifically about preaching, the main points of his article apply equally to those of us who teach children and youth.

The Bible is more than just a collection of propositional statements. It is truth with tone. And there are many different tones: comfort (2 Cor 1), bluntness (Jam 4:4), lament (Ps 13:1-2), wonder (Rev 4), sarcasm (2 Cor 11:19), instruction (Rom 12), joy (Ex 15), questioning (Ps 22:1), struggle (Lam 3), wisdom (Prov 1), and rest (Psalm 23) to name a few. The beauty of the Bible is found, in part, through its variety of tone.

Using the right tone requires a great deal of wisdom. But if used well, it invites people into a further understanding of the passage and opens up new applications. Preaching with the appropriate tone helps people feel the weight of what is being said. It makes the passage come alive in new ways. It can open their heart to truths that may have been missed without the right tone. By using the right tone, you will help people hear the truth of God’s Word. Truth through tone is a powerful way for both the pastor and the congregation to walk together into what is being said in the Bible, and a proper tone allows a person to not just what’s in a particular passage, but to feel


(Image courtesy of Paul Gooddy at

Training the Mind to Pay Attention


A friend alerted me to this interesting article: “Age of Distraction: Why It’s Crucial for Students to Learn to Focus.” Though it’s written from a secular perspective, consider this observation by psychologist Daniel Goleman, as quoted in the article:

… because attention is under siege more than it has ever been in human history, we have more distractions than ever before, we have to be more focused on cultivating the skills of attention…

The attentional circuitry needs to have the experience of sustained episodes of concentration—reading the text, understanding and listening to what the teacher is saying—in order to build the mental models that create someone who is well educated…The pulls away from that mean that we have to become more intentional about teaching kids.

(Psycologist Daniel Goleman, as quoted by Katrina Schwartz in her article, “Age of Distraction: Why It’s Crucial for Students to Learn to Focus,” at

I believe this observation is especially pertinent as we consider teaching children the Bible. Is what we teach (scope and depth) and how we teach the Bible giving our students “sustained episodes of concentration—reading the text, understanding and listening to what the teacher is saying—in order to build the mental models that create someone who is well educated”?

At Children Desiring God, we have this commitment as one of our distinctions:

We believe that, if children are to embrace and live out the Gospel, they must have a right knowledge of God and His purposes as revealed in His inerrant and authoritative Word. Therefore, children must be taught to properly study and interpret God’s Word. Using an age-appropriate, step-by-step approach, the lesson format trains students to interact with the text using proper Bible study methods. This process begins in earnest in first grade, and increases in depth and rigor as children age and mature. Furthermore, we incorporate an interactive teaching style, carefully laid out for teachers, that serves to develop critical thinking and reasoning skills aimed at a deeper understanding of the things of God and the ability to rightly apply the Word of God.

(Image courtesy of stockimages at

Sparing Children from the Follies of Their Generation

ID-100173637Here is some very wise and timely advice from John Piper:

It is a wonderful thing that, if you believe and teach the straightforward truths of the Bible, you will spare yourself and your children a hundred follies of each new generation. If you want to be useful for your generation, you don’t need to be an expert on the latest philosophical fad, or the latest progressive morality, or the latest psychological trend. A few Christians need to study these things and respond to them. But the great majority of Christians should simply be marching to the beat of another drummer.

What most ordinary Christians need to do is go deep with the Bible and believe and absorb and teach what it means and what it implies in its straightforward statements. If you do that—if you think your way down deep into the warp and woof of the Bible, and let it shape your mind and heart—you will be spared many trendy detours that sound so up-to-date, but end in the destruction of lives.

 (From sermon, “Abhor What Is Evil; Hold Fast to What Is Good,” ©2015 Desiring God Foundation,

(Image courtesy of marin at


Page 1 of 212»