Archive - November, 2016

Why Should Children Memorize Scripture?

Why Should Children Memorize Scripture

Here are four top reasons to encourage children to memorize Scripture:

1. Children have amazing memories.

Children memorize easily. In fact, they often memorize effortlessly. Since memorization is so easy for them, they are memorizing constantly. They will memorize either what the world has to offer them or what we have to offer them. Why not take advantage of this God-given gift for the benefit of our children’s spiritual growth? This “window of opportunity” is open for about twelve years. After age twelve, memorization is harder — unless a child has been trained in the habit of memorization.

2. What is learned in childhood is often retained for a lifetime.

It is so much harder for adults to memorize Scripture than children. We often feel handicapped because we do not have more Scripture memorized. For many adults, the verses they know well (those which come to mind as an automatic response) are verses learned in childhood. So seize the moment! (more…)

What Happened to Their “Faith”?

What Happened to Their "Faith"?

The older I get, the more I have seen this and wept. Sadly, too many of the students I once taught 15 and even 20 years ago have abandoned any pretense of the Christian faith. The great majority of these students grew up with godly Christian parents. What’s a parent to do? What’s the church to do? Last week Tim Challies had an important post, “Why Christian Kids Leave the Faith.”

Few things are sadder to witness than people who once professed faith leaving it all behind. This is especially true when those people were raised in Christian homes by God-fearing parents. These children were given every opportunity to put their faith in Jesus but determined instead to turn their backs on him. Why would they make such a tragic choice?

What Happened to Their "Faith"Several years ago Tom Bisset carried out a study of people who had left the faith. Wanting this to be more than a statistical analysis, he actually sat down with people to interview them and ask for detailed information on when, why, and how they abandoned their faith. As he compiled his research he arrived at the four most prominent reasons that people raised in Christian homes eventually leave Christianity behind.

• They leave because they have troubling, unanswered questions about the faith.
• They leave because their faith is not working for them.
• They leave because they have allowed other things to take priority.
• They leave because they never personally owned their faith.

…As parents we are to commit ourselves to the task of raising our children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord, to teach them the facts of the faith, to show how it answers our questions and meets our needs, to insist that the good news of the gospel must be personally apprehended. We do what God calls us to do, we do it to the best of our abilities, and we entrust the results—and our children—to God’s good providence.

whychristiankidsrebelA book I would recommend for parents is Tim Kimmel’s Why Christian Kids Rebel: Trading Heartache for Hope. Even if your children have not rebelled or shown any indication of rejecting the faith, this book has some very helpful biblical counsel for all parents to consider and implement in their parenting.

 

 

8 Practical Ideas for a Purposeful Thanksgiving

8 Practical Ideas for a Purposeful Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is tomorrow and many of you have probably spent hours cleaning your home for company, preparing the perfect turkey, planning a dozen side dishes, setting a beautiful table or traveling across country to grandma and grandpa’s house. But, have you spent any time planning how your family is going to worship God during your Thanksgiving day.

Here are eight practical ideas requiring little to no preparation to help your family have a purposeful holiday as you thank God for the blessings he has given you.

1. Anticipated Thanksgivings

This is one our staff loves to do together each year. Look back at your year and reflect on three to five things you are thankful for. Next, create a list of 3-5 anticipated thanksgivings—specific things you are committing to praying for over the coming year with the hope that next Thanksgiving, you can praise God for the answered prayers. Be sure to capture everyone’s answers (possibly in a journal or create a small booklet) so you can be reminded to pray throughout the year and down the road you can look back to see the evidences of God’s grace in your family’s life over the years.

2. Verses of Praise

Have your children create place cards for each person coming to Thanksgiving. On the back, have them write out a verse of praise for each guest to read during the meal. Great Thanksgiving verses to start with include: 1 Chronicles 16:8-9; Psalm 7:17; Psalm 79:13; Psalm 86:12-13; Psalm 100:4-5; Psalm 106:1; Acts 17:24-25; 1 Corinthians 15:55-57; Philippians 4:6-7; Colossians 3:15-17; and 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18.

3. Hymn Sing

Close dinner with a short hymn sing. A newer favorite by Keith and Kristyn Getty is My Heart Is Filled with Thankfulness or sing For the Beauty of the Earth, a classic hymn by Folliot Pierpoint and Conrad Kocher.

4. Look Deeper

When thinking of what we are thankful for, it is easy to focus on the practical—family, friends, a warm home, good food or fun toys. While these are all wonderful things we can thank God for providing, take time to help your children think deeper to what they have been learning about God in family devotions or Sunday school. Encourage your children to think of an attribute of God, name of God, promise God has given us, Bible story or other truth they have learned that they are thankful for. Or, have your children recite Bible verses they are thankful to have treasured in their hearts.

5. Centered on Thanks

While you are waiting for the turkey to bake, work as a family to create a special centerpiece focused on thanks. If you have a pumpkin, take turns writing what you are thankful for on the pumpkin with a sharpie (a gold sharpie looks great on a white pumpkin). Or, cut out tags or leaves to write on and hang them on a garland or small tree. If you have a kids table at your family celebration, cover it with paper and supply the kids with markers or crayons to color pictures of what they are thankful for.

6. Nature Walk

After dinner, go for a family nature walk and look for things in creation that show the greatness of God. Thank God for creating the items you find from the biggest and most beautiful to the smallest or most simple.

7. Read the Easter Story

No, I did not get my holidays mixed up. The greatest gift we have ever been offered is the gift of salvation. Spend time reading about the crucifixion from the Bible or a children’s story book. Thank Jesus for taking the sacrifice for our sins and giving us the gift of eternal life.

8. Plan a Family Service Project for Christmas

As your family spends the day reflecting on all of the blessings you are thankful for, think about how you can share the overflow of your blessing with others during the upcoming Christmas season. Spend time as a family discussing a service project you could do together to help people in need. Here are some ideas for blessing friends, neighbors and those in need: go caroling at a local nursing home, volunteer at a local ministry, donate supplies to a crisis pregnancy center or food shelf, make a meal for new parents, include international students or someone with no local family into your Christmas plans, shovel your neighbors sidewalks, bake cookies for friends who need some extra encouragement or decide to set aside money from your family’s gift budget and donate it to a missionary family or international ministry.

Do you have any family traditions that help you focus on the goodness of the Lord in your lives? How do you share your thanksgivings? We would love to have you share those in the comments below.

Are You Prepared to Fight the Fight of Faith?

Fight the Fight of Faith

My main reason for memorizing Scripture is not to teach anybody anything but to fight unbelief in my life. To fight discouragement in my life. To handle the sorrows that come across my life.

The devil is constantly shooting at me to be discouraged about myself, my family, my church, and the world. And the only way I know to fight back is with truths from God that counter that.

—John Piper, Desiring God

Those of us who believe in and receive Jesus as Savior are brothers and sisters in the family of God, fellow workers in God’s kingdom spreading His glory and the message of salvation from generation to generation to the ends of the earth, and fellow soldiers fighting the fight of faith.

As we are engaged in the ongoing battle of continuing in the faith, every Christian must speak truth to his soul, fighting not only the temptations of the flesh but also battling for faith. The assaults of the enemy come in the form of lies which threaten to diminish the joy of our salvation and our love for the gospel, belief in the promises of God, a hunger for God, single-minded devotion to Christ and our appetites for the spiritual rather than the temporal.

The Fighter Verses program is designed to equip you to fight the fight of faith by memorizing God’s Word. Each week individuals, families and churches are all encouraged to memory a verse or short passage of Scripture together. Are you prepared to fight the fight of faith?


Fighter Verses

Verse Collections

Fighter Verses Collection

This core memory program of 260 passages is broken down into five yearly sets with one verse or passage to be memorized each week. The verses chosen for this collection focus on 1) the character and worth of our great God, 2) battling against our fleshly desires, and 3) the hope of the Gospel.

Extended VersesExtended Memory Collection

The Extended Memory Collection is designed for those who wish to memorize longer passages of Scripture. Still structured as a five-year weekly memory program, this collection encourages you to memorize Philippians, James, Romans 5-8 and the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7), plus an additional set of larger passages from various books of the Bible that are considered key to the life of faith.

Foundation VersesFoundation Verse Collection

The Foundation Verses are 76 verses of foundational truth designed with toddlers and pre-readers in mind. The collection includes verses designed to lay a firm scriptural foundation of basic biblical truth that will pave the way for faith response along with illustrations to help children remember each verse.

 

 


Fighter Verses WebsiteGetting Started

Are you excited to start memorizing Scripture? Begin by visiting FighterVerses.com to learn more about Fighter Verses, discover how to get your whole church on board and find tips on how to memorize and review verses. You will also find our weekly devotional blog there. Feel free to jump in and start memorizing along with us…we are just finishing up Set 1. Or, start preparing to begin a new set in January.

The Fighter Verses AppNext, download the Fighter Verses App for iPhone or Android. This will give you a wide array of resources to help you memorize wherever you go or whenever you have a few spare minutes. You will find all of the verse collections, quizzes, songs, study resources and an in depth review function to help you keep verses memorized.

For additional help in memorizing, check out some of our other Fighter Verses resources:

Fighter Verses Songs

The Fighter Verses Study

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.—Ephesians 6:10-12

Resource Update: We are excited to release the Fighter Verses Songs for Set 2 on CD and iTunes in early 2017! Watch the blog for more details.
Unfortunately, we are not able to release Set 2 of the Fighter Verses Study this year. We hope to provide more study resources for Fighter Verses in the future.

They Need More than a Cheerleader

They Need More Than a Cheerleader

Melissa Kruger wrote this article for her sisters in Christ, but it also hit home to me as a teacher, parent, and grandparent. The same tendency to reduce Jesus to the role of spiritual cheerleader in ministries and resources aimed at women can easily, and oh so subtly, begin to pervade our children’s Sunday school classrooms and our parenting.

Please, please read the entire article, “Sisters, Jesus Is Not Your Cheerleader” in order to properly understand what she is saying and what she is not saying. As you read this excerpt from the article, think about how her points readily apply to teaching children and parenting in general.

They Need More Than a CheerleaderAnd, to be clear, Jesus does encourage. He offers words of strength to the weary and comfort to the hurting. In a world where we so often feel we don’t measure up, we need his encouragement daily. By focusing on only part of his message, however, I’m concerned that we’ve reduced Jesus to a spiritual cheerleader. And, in turn, that’s what we’ve become to one another. We offer words of affirmation, but not rebuke; words of forgiveness, but not repentance. We rightly celebrate his grace, but often forget to mourn our sin.

In doing so, we miss out on life-giving realities in our relationship with Jesus and one another. It’s the friends willing to call me out in my sin and say hard things whom I trust the most. They’re the ones I return to time and again for advice and wisdom—precisely because they recognize that who I am isn’t all I need to be.

Jesus speaks to us in a variety of ways—he teaches, commands, rebukes, calls, and exhorts. When we reduce Jesus to our personal rah-rah section in the bleachers, we miss out on the faithful friend we so desperately need. If you’re mainly hearing “you’re great!” (cue Tony the Tiger) from your devotional or women’s ministry, I invite you back to God’s Word, where we hear the voice of Jesus in a diversity of ways.

(www.thegospelcoalition.org)

Questions to ask in regard to our children’s and youth ministries in particular:

  • Do the resources we use—curriculum and other books—present the variety of ways that God speaks to us in His Word in a balanced way? Do they continually point to the greatness of God, or do they tend to make much of us instead?
  • In teaching children, does my teaching style tend toward the “rah-rah, you’re great” in an unhealthy and unbiblical way? How can I take steps to have a more balanced and biblical approach? (It’s possible to also teach with the other extreme—too little exhorting or encouraging. This is also unhealthy and unbiblical.
  • For my own devotional life, do I carefully select materials that bring me to God’s Word in such a way that I see the whole counsel of God being communicated through a diversity of commands, rebukes, calls, and exhortations? How can doing so better help me as a parent and teacher?

 

Celebrating the One Who Is Most Special

Jesus Is Most Special

One of the most special times of years is quickly approaching. How will you help your children be captivated by the joy and wonder of Christmas?

Jesus Is Most Special, by Sally Michael, is the perfect way to share the story of the birth of Jesus, along with its context in the Bible, with young children. Through reading this book over and over, even the youngest children will be motivated to retell this all-important story to others after they have learned if for themselves. Though the facts are important for children to remember, it is even more important for them to understand the message of the birth of Christ, God’s Son, the Savior of the world, the King of all Kings, who is most special of all.

Jesus Is Most SpecialEach right-hand page of the book tells a part of of the Christmas story, starting with God’s promise to send a Savior. Prompts indicate when key characters are introduced so children can act the story out using a nativity set as they share the story with others. The left-hand pages incorporate supporting Scripture and lyrics to Christmas carols to reinforce what children are learning, help them reflect on the meaning and stir their hearts to worship.

For churches or schools, the main text of the book provides a great base for the narration of a short skit as children act out the story. The accompanying verses can be interspersed as additional readings and the carols can be used to complete the christmas program.

Jesus Is Most Special is the perfect book to add to your Advent and Christmas traditions. You can look inside the book and order a copy today to receive it in time for the start of the Christmas season.

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

The simplicity of this book mirror the plainness of the biblical story. Carol lyrics waft beside the brief, deep Scriptures that inspired them. In these pages the Savior is clearly worshiped—the story of his arrival touched me yet again.”
—Steve Estes, Author of A Better December

They Will Worship

51r089y1dml-_sx330_bo1204203200_Here is a great reminder from Tedd Tripp:

Parenting is not just providing good input. It is not just creating a constructive home atmosphere and positive interaction between a child and his parent. There is another dimension. The child is interacting with the living God. He is either worshiping and serving and growing in understanding of the implications of who God is or he is seeking to make sense of life without a relationship with God.

If he is living as a fool who says in his heart there is no God, he doesn’t cease to be a worshipper—he simply worships what is not God. Part of the parent’s task is to shepherd him as a creature who worships, pointing him to the One who alone is worthy of his worship.

(Shepherding a Child’s Heart, copyright©1995, page 22)

This is our heartfelt desire at CDG—we want to assist parents and churches by creating resources that point children toward the incomparable greatness and worth of God, with the hope and prayer that they become God worshipers. We long to point the next generation to Jesus, so that they might come love and trust Him as the only One who saves and satisfies the desires of the heart.

By God’s grace may our children join in this everlasting song:

“Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!”

 “Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.”

(Revelation 4:8b,11 ESV)

 

The Holy Weight of Teaching Divine Truths

744px-constitution_of_the_united_states_page_1

The United States Constitution, ratified on June 21, 1788

Years ago my family visited the National Archives. There, in the main rotunda, housed under heavy glass and dim lights, you can view the United States Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights—documents that changed the course of history. We approached these documents with a sense of somber reflection, understanding something of the lofty ideals and great sacrifices behind the words. However, that somber reflection was rudely interrupted by a group of junior high students joking with their friends, running and goofing around, totally oblivious to the documents they had supposedly come to see. Apparently no one had taught them about an appropriate decorum when in the presence of weighty things.

Weighty things…I have spent the past two months writing lessons for children. Consider some of the topics: God’s holiness and righteousness, sin and judgment, the Gospel, justification, sanctification, submission to Christ, living in a manner pleasing to the Lord…All are topics of utmost, eternal importance for our children—the difference between heaven and hell, their everlasting joy or everlasting misery. These are no trifling matters. These topics, all revealed in God’s Word, are the weightiest things in the universe.

This is a constant reminder for me: Teaching children involves a holy weight. It is holy because our teaching is meant to point to and reflect the holiness of God—the one true God who is utterly unique, one-of-kind, beyond compare, majestic, and perfect in every way. It is a weight because the things we teach are meant to land on the heart, mind, and will with an appropriate seriousness meant to encourage life-transforming impact that is honoring to a holy God. We are dealing with divine priceless truths! This is true whether we are teaching 2 year olds or 12 year olds.

This changes the way I prepare a lesson, the way I pray over a lesson, and the way I present a lesson.

Does that mean there is no room for creative fun in the classroom? Are engaging illustrations out-of-bounds? Do lessons need to be presented in a drab, somber tone, and never with joyful exuberance? No, I am not suggesting any of this. I believe our curriculum has attempted to strike an appropriate balance in this regard. We use numerous, age-appropriate, child-appealing, illustrations and visuals in our lessons, but all are designed to help and encourage our students to grow in their understanding of and reverence for the triune God and the amazing gift of salvation offered in Jesus Christ. These are divine, priceless truths indeed! Let’s strive to teach our students in such a way that they learn an appropriate decorum when in the presence of weighty things!

Supporting Missionary Kids from the Classroom: Practical Tips for Connecting

Supporting Missionary Kids from the Classroom: Practical Tips for Connecting

Read Part 1 – Brothers, Pray for Us

Has your Sunday school class decided to support missionary kids from your church who are in the same grade? Here are some practical tips for connecting with and supporting your church’s missionaries.

Build Relationships

Whether you break out pens and paper, or become virtual pen pals, help the students in you class build relationships with the missionary kids through writing notes.

  • If you have extra time in class, write a note to or color pictures for your missionary kids. Ask them questions about what life is like where they live and let the students in your class introduce themselves. You can always scan or take a picture of their notes and email them for quick delivery.
  • Recognize special occasions such as birthdays, Christmas, Easter or the end of the school year. If you are mailing a card, remember to send it early because mail can often take a long time to reach some countries.
  • Send a care package. Mail can be a challenge to get to some countries, but it is so fun for missionary kids to get a care package with a fun gift or things they miss from home. If there is a short term missions trip going to visit your missionary family, see if they have space to take a small package. Talk to the missionary kids’ parents, family or support team to find out what they like and would appreciate such as a games, crafts, school supplies, books or candy.
    If sending items is not an option, missionary kids can have fun getting an iTunes or Amazon gift card for new worship music or to watch a movie.
  • Share a photo of your class or small group and ask if your missionary kids can share photos of where they live and their everyday life.
  • Have your class record a video greeting for your missionary kids.

When given a blank piece of paper and asked to write (or color) to someone they do not know, children often do not know what to do. But, if you give them some simple prompts, they will have a lot of fun.

  • Coloring Pictures: For young children, provide pictures they can color or complete together as a small group.
    A fun option for missionary kids in sensitive countries who can not get a picture of a manger scene for Christmas, is to provide a snow scene with the basic outline of a snowman and trees. Then encourage children to work together to add like a face, scarf, buttons and snowflake stickers in the sky.
  • Get to Know You Questions: What is your name? Do you have brothers and sisters? Do you have any pets? Do you play a sport or musical instrument? What is the weather like where you live? What do you enjoy doing for fun? What is your favorite food? Where do you go to school? What are you thankful for? Have you visited any other countries? What countries would you like to visit? What makes you happy? What do you want to be when you grow up.
  • Faith Questions: What is your favorite verse? What is your favorite Bible story and why? What evidences of God’s grace have you seen in your life? How have you seen God’s glory in nature this week? What have your learned in Sunday school (favorite attribute of God, promise of God, name of God, etc.). What has God been teaching you in your devotions? 

Learn About Their Country

To help you better understand what life is like for your missionary kids as well as who they are ministering to, it can be very helpful to spend some time learning about the country they live in. You can ask a small group to research and put together a short report on the country; read short missionary stories or biographies; invite someone who has visited or lived in the country to come and talk; or ask your missionary kids questions about their life.
Read this post for some recommended books and resources.

Support Their Ministry

Another important aspect of supporting missionary families is financially. Help teach children about the importance of being cheerful givers and help them experience the joy of partnering with a ministry. Set a goal of how much money you want to raise depending on the age of your children and the size of your class. You may want to encourage kids to do some extra odd jobs at home so you can raise 10 dollars as a class. Or, you class may want to host a fundraiser to buy items that will help the the missionary family’s ministry such as Bibles, school supplies, clean water or goats.

Welcome Missionaries Home on Furlough

It is so exciting when our missionary families return on furlough and our church has the chance to bless and encourage them in person as well as hear about their ministry in person.

  • Welcome your missionary kid to your class!
  • Help host a welcome home party or open house to welcome them and help your missionary kid get to know your class.
  • Ask the missionary family to visit your class and give a short presentation about their ministry.
  • Put together a care package for your missionary kid with some toys or activities they can do while they are stateside.
  • Continue to pray for them as they travel and adjust to life in a temporary place.

 

Please remember to be sensitive to the political situation of each country your missionary families are in as you write or talk about them. To protect the safety of many missionaries, you may need to be very careful with certain terminology, names and locations. Please double check your missionary’s specific guidelines by talking with your church’s missions department or the missionary’s sending agency.

 

 

Supporting Missionary Kids from the Classroom: Brothers, Pray for Us

Supporting Missionary Kids from the Classroom: Brothers, Pray for Us

What is a missionary? Where do they live? What are they doing in a different country? Are their kids like me? Why do we need to pray for missionaries?

Can the children in your Sunday school classes answer these questions?

For many children, it is hard to understand the world outside their city, let alone in a different country. As teachers and parents, we have the opportunity to instill a passion in our children to spread the Gospel to others in their everyday life and to over 1200 unreached people groups around the world. As the church, we have the honor of sending and supporting missionaries along with their children.

One way to combine these goals of educating the children in our church and supporting our missionary families is to adopt missionary kids into the classroom to get to know them, learn more about their family’s ministry and consistently support them in prayer.

To start with, find out which missionary families your church supports and what grades their children are in.

  • If you are in a larger church with multiple missionary kids in each grade, assign one or two to each small group. This helps the students in your class build deeper relationships with the missionary kids and focus their prayers.
  • If you only have a few missionary kids, you could pray for each child as a class.
  • If there are no missionary kids in your grade, consider adopting a missionary without children who could use some extra encouragement. Or, choose an unreached people group or country to focus learning about and praying for.

It can be helpful to choose a team member in your class to champion this project and be the main communicator with the missionary families. Have them contact the missionaries to welcome the missionary kids into your class and begin getting to know the families. Be sure to sign up for their regular prayer letters or email updates so you have the latest information on how to support the families.

Supporting Missionary Kids from the Classroom: Brothers, Pray for UsPrayer is one of the easiest and most important ways to support missionary families. Some general prayers that all missionaries need include: for the Gospel to be spread through their ministry, that they will be protected from the attacks of Satan, for protection in travels and everyday life in a different country, peace within their family, a good school and friends for their children, guidance in countless decisions, and unwavering faith.

Here are a few ways for your class remember to pray for your missionary kids:

  • Hang up a map or bulletin board in your classroom with pictures of each of the missionary families in your classroom and show the country or general area they live in.
  • Put a picture of the missionary kid each small group is praying for on the lid of their small group supply box to help remind them to pray each week during small group time.
  • Set aside time as a whole class once a month to spend a few minutes in prayer for all of the missionary kids.
  • Make bookmarks or cards with the missionary kid’s photo and specific prayer requests for children in your class to take home and put in their Bible or on their refrigerator so they can pray for the missionaries with their family during the week and over the summer.

Read Part 2 of this post for some practical tips on how you can teach your class more about missions and simple ideas for connecting with your missionary kids.

Please remember to be sensitive to the political situation of each country your missionary families are in as you write or talk about them. To protect the safety of many missionaries, you may need to be very careful with certain terminology, names and locations. Please double check your missionary’s specific guidelines by talking with your church’s missions department or the missionary’s sending agency.

 

 

Page 1 of 212»