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Are You Gripped By What You Teach?

As many of you know, CDG had our National Conference May 2-4 in Minneapolis. It was a wonderful time of teaching from the Word, worship, practical training, and delightful fellowship. The theme of the conference was weighty—“The Splendor of Holiness.” In order to help attendees and non-attendees alike, I would like to spend the next month or two highlighting various sessions and seminars from the conference.

To begin with, I would like to focus on the plenary session of Dr. Jason Meyer (Pastor for Preaching and Vision at Bethlehem Baptist Church) and his message “The Splendor of God’s Holiness: The Irresistible Drawing Power of Real Holiness.”Toward the end of his excellent message, he said the following heart-challenging words:

You could make the mistake of focusing exclusively on why children need to be gripped by the splendor of God’s holiness. Here is why that would be a disastrous decision. Wanting to impact children with something that has not impacted you is an unintentional inoculation against being gripped by biblical holiness. Here is what I mean. It is an inoculation because, in the end, it protects them from being “infected” by the power of the truth of God’s holiness. If someone can believe in God’s holiness without loving God’s holiness, then you can have what James calls a dead faith, a demon faith, a useless faith—an empty adherence to teaching that will never change anyone. You can be what Paul says, “having a form of godliness while denying its power.”

Dear friends, if the things you are teaching do not excite you, there is almost no way that they are going to excite children. Children are uniquely gifted in being able to sniff out phoniness. They instinctively say to themselves, “if what you are sharing does not excite you, then why would I want it?”

Or worse yet, they may follow your example. What would be worse—rejecting fake holiness or accepting fake holiness? Embracing fake holiness means that you come to grips with the fact that holiness it is just one of those dull things about God that you are supposed to believe. They may think that they should respond to these glorious things in the same “blah” way as we do. We are modeling for children how they ought to respond to the things of God. When our hearts are unengaged, we end up lying about the very things we are teaching. We are saying, “hey, look everybody, this is the bland way you should engage with these stupendously glorious things.”

That sounds like doom and gloom, but that is certainly not my aim. My goal in warning you about the danger is found in the principle of “forewarned is forearmed.” Think about what happens when you focus on personally being gripped by God’s holiness. You will be gripped yourself. You will be what the Bible calls a “witness.” We need first hand witnesses of God’s holiness for the sake of the next generation….

The only way to teach the holiness of God is as a firsthand witness. You cannot teach the Jesus that your pastor proclaims. You must teach your children about the holiness of God as you have experienced it. This is the way to powerfully proclaim the Word to them…you must be gripped by it yourself.

What is a mother?

CDG is pleased to offer a new and very timely resource by Sally Michael, Mothers: Disciplers of the Next Generations. Here are some words of wisdom from the booklet to whet your appetite…

  • Motherhood involves a vision, too. It may be conscious or unconscious, well-articulated or haphazard, but the vision that drives us also shapes our attitudes, our actions, our influence and, to some degree, the outcome of our mothering. What is your vision of mothering? Is it shaped by the Word…or by the world?
  •  As mothers, it is tempting to be consumed with the busyness of life—getting meals, changing diapers, bringing children to school, doing laundry, attending to the myriad of necessary tasks to manage a household and family—at the neglect of our spiritual development. Not only is this personal spiritual suicide, but it is detrimental to our children. If we would nurture the faith of our children, we must first nurture our own growing relationship with the Living God.
  •  Our primary struggle in raising our children is not subduing their wills, knowing how to teach them the Bible, or even knowing how to pray for them. Our greatest struggle will be in striving to love and worship God above all else, so that we can overflow in imparting that love to our children.
  •  Our primary calling as Christian mothers is to be Christ’s ambassadors to our children, speaking His truth, and reflecting His heart to them. Christ has given us a divine calling as ministers of reconciliation. All our other responsibilities pale in comparison to this one great charge.
  •  Only as we are united to Christ, can we truly fulfill our calling as mothers. So our vision for mothering is to be first lovers of Jesus. Of all the mothering responsibilities we have, our first and foremost is to grow as Christians. If we are good Christians, we will be good mothers.

Let Them Bless His Holy Name Forever: Our Eternal Hope For The Next Generations

The following is a plenary session given by Pastor David Michael, Pastor of Parenting and Family Discipleship at Bethlehem Baptist Church and President of Children Desiring God at CDG NatCon 2013.

Isaiah 6:1-13—In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. 2Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. 3And one called to another and said:

Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts;
the whole earth is full of his glory!

4And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. 5And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!” (more…)

The Splendor of God’s Holiness: The Irresistible Drawing Power of Real Holiness

The following is a plenary session message given by Pastor Jason Meyer, Pastor for Preaching and Vision at Bethlehem Baptist Church.

Real holiness is either a terror or a treasure, but it cannot be a trifle. Real holiness cannot be boring or dull. The dullness of our demeaner would like about the splendor of holiness. Real holiness (by which I mean God’s holiness) is either repulsive or irresistible.

But we have to ask the question… (more…)

The Lord, Our God, is Holy: the Revelation of the Holiness of God

The following is a plenary session given by Dr. Bruce Ware, Professor of Christian Theology, Southern Seminary, at CDG NatCon 2013.

Introduction

Turn to Isaiah 57:15.

15 For thus says the One who is high and lifted up, who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: “I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly, and to revive the heart of the contrite. 

We are going to focus on this verse today. But in order to see the whole context, we really need to see the whole chapter and how verse 15 fits in. There’s an antagonist and a protagonist to be seen. This is what I want to press on – what does Isaiah 57:15 contribute to our understanding of God and his holiness? We must see the whole chapter. (more…)

Be Holy, For I am Holy: Delighting in the Holiness of God

John Piper
The holiness of God is one way of talking about God’s otherness. His difference from us. His being in class by himself. Hannah put it like this in 1 Samuel 2:2, “There is no one holy like the Lord, indeed, there is no one besides thee, nor is there any rock like our God.” His holiness is transcendent, pure, uniqueness.

There is an infinite difference between him and us. Which means that when we see his holiness most clearly, we not only feel unworthy the way Isaiah did in Isaiah 6:5, “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips . . . for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!”—we not only respond like that, but we also meet strange things. Things that at first don’t make sense to us. God’s holiness is not only other, it is strange to fallen human beings. (more…)

Creative Uses for Helping Children Understand the Gospel

Since it was released in 2009, the booklet Helping Children Understand the Gospel has been used in a number of creative ways. Although it was written to help parents explain the Gospel to their children in an accurate and child-friendly manner, God has multiplied its usefulness to bless the church. Understanding and meditating on the truths of the Gospel is is not just for children, but for families, teachers, youth, young adults and grandparents, too!

In January 2010, Riverpark Bible Church in Fresno, California, used Helping Children Understand the Gospel to begin a church-wide, 10-week, “Ten Truths” study. After encouraging parents to read parts one and two of the booklet on their own, they kicked off the study with a sermon outlining the ten truths. In this video Pastor Dave and Sandy Parker share what they did and what happened:


If you are curious about the Ten Essential Truths of the Gospel that make up the devotional guide in the booklet, here they are:

Truth One: God is the sovereign Creator of all things.
Truth Two: God created people for His glory.
Truth Three: God is holy and righteous.
Truth Four: Man is sinful.
Truth Five: God is just and is right to punish sin.
Truth Six: God is merciful. He is kind to undeserving sinners.
Truth Seven: Jesus is God’s holy and righteous Son.
Truth Eight: God put the punishment of sinners on Jesus.
Truth Nine: God offers the free gift of salvation to those who repent and believe in Jesus.
Truth Ten: Those who trust in Jesus will live to please Him and will receive the promise of eternal life—enjoying God forever in heaven.

Helping Children to Understand the Gospel

Helping booklet

The Gospel is the most important truth one generation can communicate to the next, and God calls parents and teachers to be wise sowers. This calls for accurate, discerning, and intentional practices of cultivating, teaching, and praying in the hope that God, who gives the growth, will work in children’s hearts to yield hundredfold harvests of faith.

This booklet was developed to help parents and teachers think about what elements should be considered when presenting the Gospel to children, including:

  • Preparing the hearts of children to hear the Gospel;
  • Discerning stages of spiritual growth;
  • Communicating the essential truths of the Gospel; and
  • Presenting the Gospel in an accurate and child-friendly manner

This helpful resource includes a 10-week family devotional to help parents explain the Gospel to their children.

Watch the blog later this week for a chance to win a free copy of this booklet!

If you don’t win one, you can also purchase the booklet. It is available in two formats: print and electronic.

What should we teach children about the holiness of God?

This is a big topic! Thankfully Dr. Ware distills the essence of the issue using the following quote from A. W. Tozer as a jumping off point:

What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.

—A. W. Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy

Dr. Ware continues by saying,

That is true for us and for the next generation that we minister to and train – that we get God rightly. … We have to continually point the next generation to the revelation of God Himself, to see from Scripture just who He is.

What should we teach children about the holiness of God? from Children Desiring God on Vimeo.

How can parents and teachers encourage holiness without teaching legalism?

In this video, Dr. Bruce A. Ware helps us distinguish the difference between holiness and legalism as we teach and train our children.

The video includes this nugget, which gets to the heart of the matter:

The difference is this: Holiness is a life lived out of a sense of joy and authenticity, that living faithfully and obediently is the good life – is the life of joy and blessing. Whereas legalism is a kind of dutiful adherence to laws that my heart is not engaged in.

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