Archive - January, 2018

When a Child Goes Astray

Children Desiring God Blog // When A Child Goes Astray

Long ago and far away, I had this little equation in my parenting mind: If we do all the right spiritual ABCs with our children, then God will bring about saving faith in their young lives (by 7 years old)…and just like that, in no time at all, our children will become faithful, fruitful followers of Jesus, doing great things for the kingdom by the time they are 12! That’s the way it’s supposed to work, right? Needless to say my little “salvation equation” for my children was naïve, to say the least! Real-life experience showed a more complicated path. Sometimes that path was confusing, heartbreaking, and even terrifying.

Here are some words from Kim Shay that I found really heartfelt and hope-filled for parents who are experiencing concern over their child’s spiritual condition:

In a perfect world, Christian parents would teach their children the gospel, and it would be embraced quickly, and without incident. Children would go seamlessly from childhood to godly adulthood without a blip on the screen.
As we know, we don’t live in a perfect world. And the reality is that good Christian parents raise children who give them some sleepless nights and break their hearts. I know what that is like. If you have children who never gave you a moment’s trouble, praise God for it! But for those of us who have had children who stray or struggle in their faith, it can be extremely painful. We feel shame and guilt. We may feel anger. But we must not despair. For those who may be in the midst of that kind of season, here are some thoughts.

  • Don’t Take All the Blame…
  • Don’t Compare Them to Others…
  • Don’t Ask “What Will People Think?”…
  • Be Discreet…
  • Focus On Your Own Walk With Christ…
  • Trust God With the Burden…

(from “They are our children, after all”)

I would really encourage you to read the entirety of the article and see how she expands upon these six points.

I would also add and emphasize:

  • Keep teaching the Word of God (Deuteronomy 6:6-9) and modeling the Gospel to your children, even if they seem bored or hostile to it. The message of Christ is what ultimately saves (2 Timothy 3:15-17; Romans 10:17).
  • Be earnest in prayer. Only God can bring new spiritual life to dead sinners. Too often, I relied on my own “great” parenting efforts, thinking it would somehow bring about salvation in my children. Instead, I needed to humbly cry out to God and trust in His sovereign grace.

If you would like more guidance on how to more effectively pray for your children, here are three practical, Scripture-based resources:



Bible Reading Tips for Kids

Children Desiring God Blog // Bible Reading Tips for Kids

Bible reading plans for kids are great resources to help your children develop the habit of daily Bible reading. (See last week’s post here.) But along with a reading plan, here is a crucial reminder from Sally Michael for you to share with your children before they begin:

…you can read the Bible with your mind only and walk away with just information. You may know a little more, but it hasn’t changed you. You can also read the words but harden your heart against their convicting and healing power.

We are blind to the truth in God’s Word. Without the help of the Holy Spirit, we will read words but we won’t see spiritual truth. We are unable to open our hearts to the power of the Word of God. We desperately need God’s help.

(ESV Children’s Bible, page ix, © 2005)

While acknowledging our utter dependence on God to bring about understanding and transformation, we can give children some tips that may help them experience the rich benefits of God’s Word. I’ve adapted the following from what Sally Michael and I wrote for the ESV Children’s Bible:


We must approach the Word of God with the prayer that God will open our minds and hearts (Psalm 119:18, 34).


You will get so much more out of the Bible if you think about what you read (2 Timothy 2:7). Read a short section, and then stop. THINK. Ask yourself questions about the passage, such as:

  • Who is speaking? To whom is he speaking?
  • What do the words mean?
  • Do the verses that come before and after help me to understand this passage?
  • What does this say about who God is and what He is like?
  • Does this passage say how we should act toward God?
  • What does this say about what people are like?
  • How does this passage point to our need for salvation in Jesus?
  • Is there a command to be obeyed, or a promise to trust?
  • How does this passage show the greatness and worth of God—God the Father, Jesus the Son, the Holy Spirit?


Remember that as you read God’s Word, God is speaking to you. The stories in the Bible tell about things that happened in the past, but they are also intended to give understanding today. We should always respond to the Word of God. Sometimes our response may be recognizing an action we need to take, or an attitude or idea we need to change. It may be a prayer that comes from our heart, a decision we make, or a sinful attitude or action we must confess. After discovering what God is asking of us in his Word, we must then go and do it (Hebrews 4:12; James 1:25).