Archive - September, 2015

Can We Just Skip that Part?

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Lately, I’ve been reading through the book of Ezekiel in my morning Bible devotional time. Oh my, some of words and imagery are quite…blunt, to put it mildly. Yet, even this part of Scripture “is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,” (2 Timothy 3:16 ESV). That being said, would I include Ezekiel 16 in a first grader’s Bible reading plan? Probably not. But sooner or later, we must expose our children to these parts of Scripture and be prepared to explain them in a truthful yet age-appropriate manner. Why not just skip over these parts? Consider these words from Pastor Robert Brady:

As a pastor, I sometimes have parents express concern about that to which their young children are being exposed in church. Whether it is a reference to the Old Covenant sign of circumcision going on the male reproductive organ or some part of a biblical story being discussed in Sunday School—there is no way to avoid exposing our children to the raw portions of Scripture in a biblically faithful church. In fact, I would suggest that we are called to expose them to the reality of these things in the right way. 

  • God commands it.
  • Culture necessitates it.
  • Our hearts need it.

(From, “Teaching Our Children the Raw Parts of Scripture” at www.reformation21.org)

I would strongly encourage every pastor, parent, and Sunday school teacher to read the entire article (available here.)

(Image courtesy of Iamnee at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.)

Labor That is Not in Vain

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Another Sunday school year is upon us. For those of us involved in children’s and youth ministry, we have another season filled with opportunities and responsibilities to teach the next generation the glorious deeds of the Lord. Yes, this is joyful ministry—at least it should be—but when done with the diligence it deserves, it is also hard work. Here is a great reminder from Jerry Bridges:

A farmer plows his field, sows the seed, and fertilizes and cultivates—all the while knowing that in the final analysis he is utterly dependent on forces outside of himself. He knows he cannot cause the seed to germinate, nor can he produce the rain and sunshine for growing and harvesting the crop. For a successful harvest, he is dependent on these things from God.

Yet the farmer knows that unless he diligently pursues his responsibilities to plow, plant, fertilize, and cultivate, he cannot expect a harvest at the end of the season.

(“The Pursuit of Holiness,” copyright©1996, p. 9)

Do you hope to see the students in your care grow in their knowledge of the Lord? Do you long to see them come to true saving faith through the Gospel? Is it your desire that they grow in love and obedience to Jesus? Then be ready to labor diligently! Plow, sow, fertilize, and cultivate. How?

  • Spend time during the week preparing the lesson—study, meditate, pray, and apply the truths to your own heart.
  • Pray daily for the students to whom you minister.
  • Enter the classroom well prepared.
  • Take time to get know your students—their likes, temperaments, joys, and challenges.
  • Display to them the love, kindness, firmness, and patience of Jesus.
  • Make a significant effort to connect with the parents or your students.
  • Pray that God would be at work bringing about spiritual life and growth.

Yes, this kind of farming is hard work. But as Paul reminds us:

Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain. (1 Corinthians 15:58, ESV)

(Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.)

Why Parent Pages?

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Of all our curriculum components, one that is often overlooked or “left-behind” is the Parent Resource Pages (or Growing in Faith Together/GIFT pages) that accompany each lesson. Yet, these pages might be the most important component of each curricula. How so? Because…

the primary responsibility and privilege of nurturing the faith of youth rests on parents (Deuteronomy 6:5-9). Parents also have the greatest opportunity for “teachable moments,” situations that arise in everyday life that can be opportunities to apply the truth of God. Faith-nurturing should not be seen primarily as a classroom experience, but rather as a consistent weaving of spiritual truth with everyday life in the context of the home. Real “heart” application of biblical truth, which changes lives, usually takes place in the context of relationship and everyday life.

Therefore,

since this most naturally occurs in the home in the context of loving relationships, teachers and small group leaders should make significant efforts to connect the classroom teaching with daily parental involvement in the student’s life.

The Parent Resource Pages and GIFT pages are one tool for teachers and small group leaders to do the above. These pages were specially designed to help parents by communicating the main ideas and texts used in each lesson and providing suggestions for applying the truths learned to real-life heart application.

Here are samples of GIFT Pages for two of our revised curriculum, Jesus, What a Savior! and How Majestic Is Your Name.

(Image courtesy of photostock at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.)

Parenting in the Midst of a Hostile Culture

HoID-100290674w do you parent in a culture that is increasingly, overtly opposed to a Christian worldview? In her article, “Gospel Centered Parenting in a Time of Cultural Crisis,” Diane Bucknell provides parents some straightforward, sound advice. Here are some excerpts from the article:

Christian parents worldwide are having to  deal with challenges unlike anything we experienced when our kids were young. In addition to raising  their children in the Lord,  parents must be fastidiously discerning when it comes to their children’s education,  social media activities, entertainment choices, and relationships with unbelieving friends and family members. Who wouldn’t be worried about their children’s spiritual well being, and how will Christian families cope living in such an ungodly world?

GOD WILL PRESERVE HIS CHURCH
First, we can take real comfort knowing that nothing falls outside the parameters of God’s eternal plan for the world and for His  people. 

THE POWER OF THE GOSPEL
Despite the world around us never underestimate the power of God’s glorious Gospel when it comes to awakening your child’s heart—especially  when  it is accompanied by fervent prayer…

THE NECESSITY OF SEPARATION
…Gospel centered parenting includes teaching  our children the necessity of  Biblical separation  if  we want them  to understand what it means to be sincere followers of Jesus Christ…

SALT AND LIGHT
Nevertheless, God did not intend New Testament believers to be cloistered away in monasteries because He calls us to be salt and light in this hopeless world. Our children need to observe the joy and peace only God can give in the midst of  trials  and adversity. They need to understand  that we are citizens of the City of God and are commanded to love and pray for our enemies. Imperfect parents as we are, they need to see us fighting the good fight and  keeping the faith until we finish the race.  

You can read the entire article here.

(Image courtesy of tuelekza at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.)

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