Archive - November, 2015

Voices from the Past

John Angell James

John Angell James

From The Sunday School Teacher’s Guide by John Angell James in the year 1816:

The ultimate object of a Sunday School teacher should be in humble dependence upon divine grace, to impart that religious knowledge; to produce those religious impressions; and to form those religious habits, in the minds of the children, which shall be crowned with the SALVATION OF THEIR IMMORTAL SOULS. Or, in other words, to be instrumental in producing that conviction of sin; that repentance towards God; that faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; that habitual subjection in heart and life to the authority of the scriptures, which constitute at once the form and power of GENUINE GODLINESS.

Here then you see your object, and you perceive that it includes every other in itself. To aim at anything lower than this, as your last, and largest purpose; to be content with only some general improvement of character, when you are encouraged to hope for an entire renovation of the heart—or merely with the formation of moral habits, when such as are truly pious may be expected, is to conduct the objects of your benevolence with decency down into the grave, without attempting to provide them with the means of a glorious resurrection out of it. To train them up in the way of sincere and undefiled religion, is an object of such immense importance, that compared with this, an ability to read and write, or even all the elegant refinements of life, have not the weight of a feather in their destiny.

(found at www.monergism.com)

A Gospel Legacy for My Grandson

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“Read this one, Gramma. My book.” Those words were spoken by our 4-year-old grandson David as he chose a Bible story to be read before putting him to bed. The “My book” he was referring to was God’s Gospel. When I first gave him a copy, I explained that I had written it for him, and then read the dedication to him:

For my grandson,

David Glenn House.

May the words of this book help you to “taste and see” the good news of the Gospel in the hope that you would trust and treasure Jesus with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength.

There are many legacies that I want to leave behind for my children and grandchildren. But by far the most important is a legacy of faith, grounded in the Gospel.  A rich, deep, biblical faith that knows and embraces the essential truths of the Gospel, truths regarding:

  • the holiness of God
  • His good and sovereign rule over us
  • the total depravity of man
  • the unmerited mercy of God
  • the incomparable worth and work of Jesus
  • God’s wrath poured out on His Son for our forgiveness
  • the meaning of true repentance and belief
  • the joy of eternity celebrating Jesus

I will be the first to admit that David’s book isn’t a masterpiece of storytelling. My words, illustrations, and explanations are not perfect nor can they adequately reflect the majestic beauty of the Gospel. It is simply this grandma’s attempt to explain the greatest news in the world to a young heart and mind. And though the some of the words and concepts are still beyond his 4-year-old comprehension, my hope and prayer is that God’s Gospel will begin to peak his interest in tasting and seeing that which is perfect and truly able to give him eternal life: God’s Word—the Bible.

“but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name”  (John 20:31).

Communication Reminders for the Home and Church

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Scenario 1:  You are teaching a Bible lesson, and a student responds to a question with an answer that is not only wrong, but outrageously wrong.

Scenario 2: You are leading a small group of 14-year-old young men after the Bible lesson. One young man comments about how much he hates his parents’ rules concerning the movies he watches.

Scenario 3: During family devotions your child interrupts to say how bored he is.

How would you respond to the student or child in each scenario? Would your response be permeated with grace-filled truth and biblical wisdom? Unfortunately, we have probably all fallen short at times of communicating in the above manner—at least I have! With that in mind, I really appreciated the post, “7 Ways to Grow in the Art of Communication,” by Dr. Joel Beeke (Ligonier Ministries). Here are a few key excerpts from the article:

  1. We should draw out the thoughts of others. Communication involves not just talking but drawing out the thoughts and feelings of others…Good communication is not a monologue; it’s a dialogue. We don’t talk to our children; we talk with them.
  2. We should let our conversations be ruled by the wisdom of Scripture. We need to be careful not to replace God’s wisdom with man’s wisdom. For example, we need to call a sin a sin and call a lie a lie…Our children need to recognize that we think biblically, speak biblically, and act biblically without cramming religion down their throats.
  3. We should use discernment in what we communicate. Sometimes we overload our children with teaching. We should take care not to load too many issues on them at once…
  4. We should speak respectfully…There are times when our voices can show more earnestness, emphasis, or concern, but we should refrain from yelling. When we reprimand a child, it is far better to say: “I love you very much but I am disappointed in this behavior. This is not what God wants from you, and you know it.”
  5. We should show genuine interest and warmth…We need to make a conscious effort to tell our children how much we love them.
  6. We should show gratitude for the things they do…We should let the “attitude of gratitude” permeate our homes. It should permeate everything—our conversation, our activities…
  7. We should make eye-to-eye contact…We should strive to make eye contact when we communicate with our children to make sure they are getting our message. Good teachers know the value of eye contact in the classroom.

Although written specifically for parents, his main points are also applicable when communicating to children and youth in the classroom—although how each is applied may, and sometimes should, look different in the classroom setting. I highly encourage every parent and children’s and youth ministry volunteer to read the entire, short article here.

(Image courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.)

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