Archive - February, 2016

When Life is Hard God is…  

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It has been a difficult week for my extended family. Hard news from doctors. Difficult decisions. Pain and suffering. Tears and heartbreak. But there is something more. Underneath the life-shaking events is something unshakeable, something that changes everything. Christina Fox explains it so beautifully:

When the storms of life wreak havoc on all you know and love, what theological truths anchor your soul? What doctrines do you turn to when the world around you seems to give way under your feet? What truths about God bring you the most comfort when life is uncertain and nothing makes any sense?

Though all of God’s word is essential for us to read, learn, memorize, and study, and though all of God’s word teaches us all that we need to know to weather the storms of life, there is one theological truth that stands out in times of trial and suffering. There is one doctrine that brings everything into perspective and provides comfort and rest for our weary souls.

The sovereignty of God.

…This truth calms our hearts because we know that there are no accidents or random circumstances. God ordains and orchestrates all things. And because God is our good, loving, and faithful Father, we can rest in his holy purposes for us. Even when we don’t understand what is happening, we can trust that God’s plan is good because he is good. He is making us holy and will use every circumstance to that end. As the Heidelberg Catechism says, “He also watches over me in such a way that not a hair can fall from my head without the will of my Father in heaven; in fact, all things must work together for my salvation.”

(You can read the entire article here: “Theology That Comforts the Weary Soulwww.desiringGod.org)

Will our children have this anchor for the soul when the storms blow? Will they have a solid knowledge and grasp of God’s sovereignty in ALL of life? If you haven’t already done so, I would urge you to acquaint your children with this important theological truth and keep bringing it to mind throughout their lives—showing how it applies to the many and varied circumstances of their lives. Go deep into the providence of God. Don’t wait until the storms come—it’s hard to teach someone to sail for the first time with gale-force winds blowing!

One way you can prepare your children is by reading together God’s Providence by Sally Michael. Each of the 26 short chapters provides insights into the sovereignty of God, as well as follow-up discussion questions for the whole family.

A second way to prepare your children is to consider a more in-depth study for your church or family. My Purpose Will Stand: A Study for Children on the Providence of God is a 40-lesson curriculum. Here is a brief description of this study:

God is present and active in the world, orchestrating all things to serve His eternal purposes. All His purposes are good and right, and are accomplished with perfection. As the Sovereign Creator of the world (and everything in it!) God has the right, power, wisdom, and righteousness to rule the universe.

The goal of My Purpose Will Stand is to so reveal God and His glorious work of providence that through the Holy Spirit’s work in the teaching of His Word, students would respond to God in faith as they look for God’s providence in all things—meditating on His works, seeing the big picture of God’s work in the world, and seeing the hand and heart of Jesus in all circumstances of their lives.

(Image courtesy of antpkr at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.)

Seven Principles for More Effective Teaching

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Would you like to improve the teaching experience for both you and your students? Here is a resource I highly recommend: Teaching to Change Lives: Seven Proven Ways to Make Your Teaching Come Alive  by Dr. Howard Hendricks.  It’s filled with practical, biblical, seasoned wisdom that is helpful for both new and experienced teachers alike. I also appreciate that it is relatively short—only 151 pages – so it’s easily “digestible” for busy teachers. Here is a very brief summary of the seven principles, or “laws” he describes:

(T) The Law of the Teacher— If you stop growing today, you stop teaching tomorrow…You cannot communicate out of a vacuum. You cannot impart what you do not possess. If you don’t know it—truly know it—you can’t give it.

(E) The Law of Education—How people learn determines how you teach.

(A) The Law of Activity—Maximum learning is always the result of maximum involvement. That’s true, with one condition. The activity in which the learner is involved must be meaningful.

(C) The Law of CommunicationTo truly impart information requires the building of bridges.

All communication has three essential components: intellect, emotion, and volitionin other words, thought, feeling, and action.

If I know something thoroughly, feel it deeply, and am doing it consistently, I have great potential for being an excellent communicator.

(H) The Law of the Heart—Teaching that impacts is not head to head, but heart to heart.

To the Hebrews, heart embraced the totality of human personality—one’s intellect, one’s emotions, one’s will.

So the process of teaching is that of one total personality transformed by the supernatural grace of God, reaching out to transform other personalities by the same grace.

(E) The Law of Encouragement—Teaching tends to be more effective when the learner is properly motivated.

As a teacher—a motivator—you want to help people develop into self-starters. You want them to do what they do, not because you ask them or twist their arm, but because they themselves have chosen to do it.

One of the best ways to trigger this choice is to help the learner become aware of his need.

(R) The Law of Readiness—The teaching-learning process will be most effective when both student and teacher are adequately prepared. [For example, use the beginning of your class time to build interest toward the subject matter. Give your students an assignment: looking up texts, reviewing prior themes, etc.]

(copyright©1987, pages 17, 39, 60-61, 71, 85, 100, 103, and 115)

Again, these brief descriptions do not do justice to his main points and practical applications. I urge you to read the whole book. In fact, it is one of the books I have been reading in preparation for my seminar, Encouraging Active Minds in the Learning Process,” to be presented at our National Conference. I would love to have you join me there to further explore this important topic!

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