Archive - December, 2015

Top 5 Posts of 2015

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What did you, our viewers, find most helpful on our blog this past year? What posts most peaked your interest? Based on the numbers, here were the top 5 posts:

5. What Our Children Really Need

4. Sparing Children from the Follies of Their Generation

3. Sermon Notes: Yes, They Can!

2. The Vital Role of Prayer in Discipling Our Children

1. Why Did Jesus Die?—Free Devotional for Families

I was especially encouraged by this list. In an age of increasing triviality when it comes to children—and even children’s ministry at times—this list reflects a serious, heartfelt, Godward yearning for the next generation. At Children Desiring God, we are very thankful for the shared ministry partnership we have with all of you!

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. (Ephesians 3:14-21 ESV)

(Image courtesy of Danilo Rizzuti at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.)

Crumbs Add Up

 

The Fighter Verses Study

You probably have noticed our emphasis on Scripture memory in the month of December with the release of our new Fighter Verses Study and related resources. And, you may feel a little overwhelmed by the thought of a systematic Bible memory program during this busy holiday season. Like me, you may feel tempted to say, “I just don’t have the time right now!” I found this illustration over at the Gospel Coalition to be really encouraging:

The demands of life swamp my days. I might as well drain the Everglades as carve out an entire morning for memorizing Scripture. But on most days I have time to put a crumb on the tip of my tongue and carry it from one room to the next, like an ant (Prov. 30:24–25).

Crumbs add up. Memorize Scripture for 15 minutes each day, five days a week, for two decades, and you will have devoted 1,300 hours to SLTSM [Systematic Long-Term Bible Memorization].

Learning from the ant has motivated me to be methodical while practicing other disciplines; I’ve developed parallel strategies for writing, praying, and sermon prep. “Ant-like” methods for spiritual disciplines multiply over time.

(From “7 Benefits of Systematic Long-Term Bible Memorization,” by Chris Brauns.)

Proverbs 30:24-25—Four things on earth are small, but they are exceedingly wise: the ants are a people not strong, yet they provide their food in the summer;

They WILL Memorize Something

My granddaughter—a mere two years old—is already memorizing. She is not exceptional in this regard. Children have an amazing God-given ability and inclination to memorize. The question becomes: What will they memorize? In this short video clip, Pastor David and Sally Michael talk about making the most of these young years.

 

 

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas

This Christmas, may you and your family worship Jesus, the Savior of the world, the King of Kings, who is most special of all.

Joy to the world! the Lord is come;
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare him room,
And heaven and nature sing,
And heaven and nature sing,
And heaven, and heaven, and nature sing.

Joy to the world! the Savior reigns;
Let men their songs employ;
While fields and floods, rocks, hills and plains,
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat, repeat the sounding joy.

We wish you the merriest Christmas!

David, Sally, Jill, Brian, Terry, Holly, Karen, Betty, Suzy, Nicole, Annie and Rachel

 

 

The Fighter Verses Coloring Contest Winners

Fighter Verses Coloring Contest

Thank you to everyone who entered The Fighter Verses Coloring Book Coloring Contest. It was a joy to see all of your pictures. We pray these verses will be treasured in the hearts of your children not only as they color the images in this book, but for a lifetime. Congratulations to the following winners!

Contest Winner: Elijah

Elijah, 4, Georgia

Contest Winner: Ford

Ford, 5, North Carolina

Contest Winner: Matia

Matia, 7, Illinois

Contest Winner: Brooklyn

Brooklyn, 13, Illinois

Contest Winner: Amanda

Amanda, Winnipeg

Contest Winner: Carol

Carol, New York

Watch for a message from us with more details so we can get your coloring book into the mail!

 

Learn more about The Fighter Verses Coloring Book and The Fighter Verses Study for families, small groups and individuals.

 

Star Wars, the Classroom, and a Biblical Worldview

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The year I spent teaching 7th-8th grade was eye-opening for me. One of the surprises was the size of the role television and movies played in the lives of students in this age group. Why is this true for so many students (including many adults)? One reason is that visual media has a unique ability to captivate our hearts and minds. And with that captivation comes the ability to influence how we think and feel.

This Christmas season, many of our students will be eagerly going to the movie theater to see the newly released Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Most will judge the movie simply in terms of its entertainment value: it’s fun, exciting, has great special effects, etc. These are all valid means for evaluating a movie, but they shouldn’t be the only means, or even the main means. Let’s guide our students beyond this and help them to evaluate everything—even the movies they watch through the lens of Scripture.

One way to do this is to encourage your students to evaluate a particular movie in light of verses such as:

Philippians 4:8 (ESV)—Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

Colossians 2:8 (ESV)—See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.

Additionally, other resources that provide background information about a movie can further develop our students’ perspective. At Ligonier Ministries, Peter Jones has a timely article regarding the philosophy behind the newest Star Wars movie. His article is titled, “Star Wars and the Ancient Religion.” I would highly recommend that parents, teachers, and small group leaders read the entire article. It will provide you with valuable information about the movie and some great points to discuss with your students. Here is how he begins:

The appearance of a new episode of the Star Wars film series is an important moment for Christian witness. To be sure, we can shrug our shoulders, since Star Wars is old news. Or we can enthusiastically introduce our grandchildren to what we might think is a beloved, harmless yarn. Or we can—and should—discover in the series an occasion to sharpen our presentation of the gospel message and help our children and grandchildren, and anyone else who might be interested, to understand the culture in which they live.

…Answering questions of morality and spirituality was the goal of George Lucas when he created Star Wars. In the 1970s, in the heyday of secular humanism, people were hungry for spiritual truth. Lucas realized that stories were more powerful than intellectual theories—especially for children. He intended to produce a children’s fairy tale set in outer space as a “teaching tool” for the re-creation of “the classic cosmic mysteries.” In so doing, he influenced audiences young and old and deeply affected the last few decades of Western civilization. The new films will no doubt extend that influence into the next generations.

As millions of people stream, perhaps naively, into theaters this weekend to reconnect with the powerful Star Wars adult fairy tale, most of them will be unaware of the worldview that gives this saga its structure and coherence…

Later in the article, he adds:

I believe there are good reasons for viewing this film. We can certainly respect its artistic and entertainment value. Galactic battle scenes and human drama are entertaining. But also, by seeing this movie, Christians can sharpen their understanding of both contemporary culture and their appreciation of the Christian faith, allowing them to see in antithetical clarity both the Christian message and the message of Star Wars in order to present the gospel in a fresh way for our time.

(Found at www.ligonier.org. Another helpful resource is an article by Albert Mohler, “Star Wars and Christian Truth—A Collision of Worldviews.”)

Also, in case you want to examine the topic of biblical worldview further with the youth of your church, you may want to check out our 40-week curriculum: Your Word Is Truth: A Study for Youth on Seeing All of Life Through the Truth of Scripture.

(Image courtesy of nongpimmy at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.)

Creative Idea: Next Generation Prayer Calendar

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Last year, our daughter and son-in-law received a personalized family calendar as a Christmas gift. Every month displayed a beautiful picture of their children. It was a wonderful gift! This year my daughter decided to take the idea a step further by combining a family calendar with the CDG resource, Praying for the Next Generation.

The prayer booklet, written by Sally Michael, offers 12 topics for prayer with suggested Scriptures. My daughter simply incorporated a prayer topic along with each of the 12 pictures on the calendar. So, for example, along with a picture of your children for the month of January, you could incorporate the first prayer topic…

Pray that they would know Christ as Savior early in life and treasure their inheritance as sons of God; that they will not accept Satan’s designs against them but walk in the light as heirs of the kingdom.

You might also want to include some specific Scriptures to pray during the week and have special stickers or a marking pen to mark off each day that you pray—a little reminder and incentive for daily prayer! Imagine reviewing the calendar on December 31, 2016 with every topic specifically prayed for your children and every day “checked” off. Just think of what God might be pleased to do through the heart-felt, diligent prayers of parents!

You can purchase the prayer booklet here.

Most office supply stores and many other large retailers offer customized calendars at a very reasonable price.

(Image courtesy of chatchai_stocker at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.)

A New Year and a New Nonprofit—Children Desiring God!

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He changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings… (Daniel 2:21a)

We mark time predominantly in God’s good design of years. This is why, when a year comes to a close, individuals and organizations often look back in a time of reflection. What were our goals for the year? Were they realized? What unexpected events played a major role in the year’s outcome? Was I faithful to influence these outcomes?

It is good for us reflect on questions such as these and recognize that it is God Himself who changes times and seasons. He establishes and removes earthly rulers…God is in control of all things, and He works in us, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.

God’s Work for CDG in 2015
One of many ways God worked for CDG this past year was in the establishment of a new nonprofit. Since 1997, CDG has functioned as a division of Desiring God. But in late October, we received notice from the IRS that our application to be an independent tax-exempt nonprofit was approved! Although we are just now announcing this transition, it has been in the works for years. Much time over the last 12 months was spent preparing for this change. On December 2, the Desiring God Board of Directors approved the final steps for CDG to move to a new 501c3 nonprofit organization. For now, we will continue to be called Children Desiring God.

At the December meeting, John Piper expressed his passion for the vision we share for the next generation and the importance of CDG’s work. He reiterated that this transition does not reflect a desire to distance Desiring God from CDG. Rather, these are necessary steps to see CDG flourish in its Gospel mission for the next 50 years.

We want millions of the next generation to know and cherish Jesus Christ as the only One who can save and satisfy their soul. Our calling is to produce God-centered, Bible-saturated, Christ-exalting resources to equip parents and churches as they instruct the mind, engage the heart, and nurture the faith of the next generation.

This organizational change allows us to form relationships with individuals who share a passion for the next generation and want to partner together to reach millions of the next generation. As we express our core values of passionate spreading and radical generosity, we acknowledge that this is made possible through partnerships with those who share our vision for the next generation.

Here are just two examples of reaching the next generation that flow from these core values:

600 missionaries in China have received Helping Children to Understand the Gospel, translated into Chinese. They plan to distribute this Gospel booklet to between 5,000 and 10,000 people in 2016.

7,500 children in one school system in El Salvador are being taught CDG curriculum, taking advantage of our “Pay What You Can Afford” program.

In the coming new year, we will continue to share more of these stories with you. We believe that you will be excited to hear about what God is doing around the world through the use of CDG resources. And, we would welcome your partnership in this mission of radical generosity in order to spread this vision. Please prayerfully consider becoming a Next Generation Partner by joining us in prayer and, if you are able, in financial partnership. Visit our Next Generation Partner page, or contact me directly to learn more.

Brian Eaton
Executive Director, Children Desiring God
651.270.4521

A Child in a Manger and the Truthfulness of God

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Christmas will be soon upon us, and many of us will be focusing on the birth of Jesus in our classrooms and homes. As we do this, let’s use this as an opportunity to also focus on how all the events and details surrounding His birth point to the faithfulness and truthfulness of God. For example, have your students consider these two verses written about 700 years before the birth of Jesus:

Micah 5:2—But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days.

Isaiah 7:14 – Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

These are two different prophets of God, writing hundreds of years before the birth of Christ, with specific details regarding His birth. Details fulfilled, exactly as told. Why emphasize this aspect of the Christmas story? Because, if our children are to come to saving faith and grow and mature in that faith, they need to have an unshakeable confidence in the truthfulness of God and His Word!

Christmas is the reassertion of the foundation of all truth and goodness and beauty, because Christmas means: God is truthful.

God’s truthfulness is the constant in a universe of flux. God’s truthfulness is the unwavering absolute. If we forsake God’s truthfulness, the anchor is up, the rudder is loose, the keel is broken, and the ship of life (political life, social life, educational life, scientific life, family life) is simply at the mercy of the wind of human wishes.

So I say it with all my heart: demonstrating the truthfulness of God is a great blessing. Give that blessing to your children. Say to the next generation again and again: God is truthful; God keeps his word; God does not lie; God can be trusted! That’s one blessing of Advent. Receive it as a wonderful Christmas gift, and give it to as many people as you can.

(John Piper, “The Dawning of Indestructible Joy–Daily Readings for Advent,” pages 32-33)

(Image courtesy of franky242 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.)

Change Coming to the NIV Fighter Verses

Changes Coming to the NIV Fighter Verses

It has been a wonderful privilege to encourage you since 1997 to hide God’s Word in your heart through the Fighter Verse Bible memory program.

On January 1st, 2016, Children Desiring God will update all of the Fighter Verses resources in the New International Version (NIV) from the NIV1984 version to the NIV2011 translation. Due to restrictions from the publisher, we can no longer offer the 1984 NIV version after December 31. We apologize for any inconvenience that this may cause you.

The Fighter Verses App

NIV2011 will replace NIV1984 verses in our Fighter Verses App in the next couple weeks.  This change will show up on your smartphone or tablet the next time you update your app from iTunes or Google Play.

Fighter Verses, Extended Verses and Foundation Verse Packs

You may purchase NIV1984 Fighter Verses, Extended Verses and Foundation Verses packs from our website through December 31, 2015.  Starting January 1, all NIV Fighter Verses resources purchased through our website will be in NIV2011. These NIV1984 resources will be on sale through the end of the year (Limited quantities available).

We know changing or updating translations can be difficult when memorizing. We pray this change will not deter you from the wonderful discipline of Bible memory.  Memorizing the Word is crucial to our fight of faith. Consider just a few amazing realities of God’s Word:

Every Word of God proves trueProv 30:5
God watches over his Word to perform itJer 1:12
God’s Word never returns emptyIs 55:11
God’s Word is truthPs 199:160
God’s Word is sharper than a two-edged swordHeb 4:12
People are saved by God’s WordJam 1:18
People are sanctified by God’s WordJohn 17:17
People have joy through God’s Word
Ps 119:14
God’s Word will remain forever
Is 40:8
The Word became flesh and dwelt among us
John 1:14

At this time, all Children Desiring God NIV curriculum will remain in the 1984 version. Curriculum and Fighter Verses resources in the English Standard Version (ESV) will not be effected by this change.

 

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