Archive - February, 2016

When Life is Hard God is…  

ID-100203661

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

51XQrJqkg9L._SX313_BO1,204,203,200_

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!

An Invitation to Parents (and Parents-to-Be)

21qCf1gb2XL._BO1,204,203,200_

Here is a great question to ponder from Lou Priolo:

Have you ever stopped to ask yourself what it is you are trying to accomplish as a parent? What exactly is your objective?

Let that weigh on your mind and heart for a moment. Think of the variety of things that consume your time in your parenting efforts—meeting basic physical needs, attending church, education, sports activities, hobbies, music lessons, special family celebrations, and more. Are all these efforts serving a common objective?

Here is how Mr. Priolo answers his own question:

Since you are a Christian parent there is only one ultimate answer to this question—and that answer is found in the Bible. The supreme objective you should have for your children is the same objective the Apostle Paul had for his spiritual children—that they be conformed (gradually changed into) the image of Christ.

He then goes on to state three necessary ingredients to produce Christ-like maturity:

…the Holy Spirit, the Scriptures, and time.

(Teach Them Diligently: How to Use Scriptures in Child Training, copyright©2000, pages 1-2)

2016 National ConferenceIt seems so simple, doesn’t it? Yet every parent knows it is an awesome task and a weighty responsibility. And, for many parents, especially those who did not grow up in Christian homes, it can be even more daunting! In the past, I have recommended many helpful books on parenting, including the one quoted above. However, if there was just one event that I could recommend for parents this coming year, it would be our National Conference. You see, contrary to what you might think, it’s not just for church leaders and ministry volunteers. It is packed with biblical parenting help and encouragement. From a parenting perspective, I have found the pre-conference seminars by Pastor David and Sally Michael to be extremely beneficial. Just look at the seminar titles:

  • A Vision for God-Centered Worship in the Next Generation [i.e., your children]
  • A Vision for Biblical Literacy in the Next Generation [your children]
  • A Vision for Encouraging Faith in the Next Generation [your children]

In my opinion, it’s not an overstatement to say that these 3 seminars present some of the best biblical parenting advice that I have found in any other single resource! These talks may literally transform your parenting and provide you with much needed encouragement. Furthermore, consider these seminars that distinctly apply to parenting:

  • The Parent-Church Connection
  • “Let the Children Come to Me” in Worship
  • Strategies for Engaging Children in the Worship Service
  • Teaching Youth to Study the Bible
  • Teaching Youth to Rejoice in God’s Good Design
  • Teaching Children and Youth to Stand Firm in a Hostile Culture
  • Picking Up the Digital Blitz: Recognizing and Countering the Technology Rush in Our Homes
  • Sins or Synapse? Are Teens Controlled by Their Brains
  • The Power of the Memorized Word in the Fight of Faith
  • Strengthening the Church-Home Partnership in the First Three Years
  • Communicating the Gospel Within the Whole Counsel of God
  • Encouraging God-Esteem in a Culture of Self-Esteem
  • Foundations for Family Discipleship
  • Intergenerational Teaching: Why and How?
  • From Genesis to Revelation: Disability and His Sure Promises of Help
  • Catechism: Out of Date or a Tried and True Teaching Tool of Eternal Truths

Grandparents: Consider helping your children attend this conference by providing financial assistance and/or childcare.

Church members: Do you know of parents who would especially benefit from this conference? Pass this post on to them. If necessary, look for ways that you and others could provide resources to make it easier for them to attend.

Page 2 of 2«12