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Mommy… Daddy… I’m Sad

Mommy... Daddy... I'm Sad

In between deep sobs, the voice of a caring mother is heard. “Gilbert, what’s wrong?”
With tears streaming down his face he replies, “Mommy, I’m sad.”
“Gilbert, why are you sad?”
“I can’t find nite-nite!” …Or, “I want to play with my cars longer.” Or, “I don’t want to leave Grandma and Grandpa’s house.”

To my 2-year-old nephew who is learning how to express his emotions in words, these sad situations feel very hard to him. Unfortunately, there will soon be a day when his tears and sorrow do not stem from something as simple as a lost blanket or shortened play time.

Your child may be saying “I’m sad” as they try to figure out why kids were mean to them at school. Why did my friend lie to me? Why does mom have cancer? Why was dad laid off from his job? Why does my sister have down syndrome? Why did our house get flooded in a hurricane? Why is there poverty and hunger in the world? What do words like terrorism, bombings, mass shootings and racial tensions mean? Why are Christians being killed for their faith? Why does God let bad things happen in the world? Why did God do this to me? Does God love me?

It is not a question of if your children will experience suffering, but when will your child experience suffering…and will his faith be strengthened or weakened through it? 

In a recent Ask Pastor John post, John Piper shared these three steps to prepare your children for suffering:

1. Teach your son a glorious, all-encompassing biblical worldview that puts suffering in its proper place.
2. Discipline him with appropriate firmness, and require of him self-denial.

3. Model for him trust and joy in the midst of your own suffering and sorrow.

As Pastor Piper expounded on these three steps, several points stood out to me. The first reinforces what my first grade class is studying in The ABCs of God. This month, they are learning that God is wise—He causes everything to workout perfectly; God is almighty—He is all-powerful; and God is sovereign—He has the right and wisdom and power to do all that He pleases. Here’s how Pastor Piper explains it:

God is sovereign, and nothing can stop him from doing what he wants to do most. “I am God, and there is none like me . . . saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose’” (Isaiah 46:9-10). He is stronger than the weather. He is stronger than storms and floods and lightning. He is stronger than animals: big ones that can attack you like lions and little teeny microscopic ones you can’t even see that can make you sick and even kill you. He is stronger than all the enemies that we have. He is stronger than everything. Children need to hear this. They get it. They will embrace it more quickly than we do, and they can handle the mysteries. Yes, they can. Don’t ever give the impression to your children that suffering exists because God is helpless.

John Piper Quote on SufferingKids do get it. Children studying My Purpose Will Stand learn it this way: “God is present and active in all creation. His eye is watching, His hand is working to uphold and govern all creation, to fulfill all His purposes for His glory and the good of His children.” God did not wind us up like a clock and step back to watch. He is not surprised by the decisions we make. God is not helpless. He has planned and is in control of every detail of our lives, including our suffering.

It is also crucial to teach children how God displays his glory through the Gospel as they learn to understand why suffering exists and why it effects them. I am thankful these following truths are woven into each of our curricula.

Make the gospel crystal-clear: God sent his Son into the world to suffer with us and for us. This means that, if we trust him, none of our suffering is punishment for sin. Christ bore all of our punishment for sin. That is the basis of our acceptance with God and our hope for heaven. And there will be no more suffering there. All the suffering, therefore, that comes into the life of a Christian is not because God is punishing him in his wrath—oh, let children understand this!—but, rather, it is God’s fatherly discipline for the sake of holiness as Hebrews 12:3-11 and 1 Peter 1:5 says.

Therefore, in all of our suffering, God is good. God is wise. God is loving, even though it’s painful, and he has purposes for us (Romans 8:28). We never explain suffering by saying God is helpless or that Satan got the upper hand or that there are mere accidents in the world. We always handle suffering, our suffering by saying, even though we don’t understand all the answers for why this particular suffering came or that particular suffering came at this particular time or this particular intensity—we don’t understand those particulars—nevertheless, we do understand what God has taught us; namely, that he is sovereign, that he is good, and that he always has purposes for our everlasting joy.

I strongly encourage you to listen to or read Pastor Piper’s entire post: How Do We Prepare Our Children for Suffering. He closes with these words:

The greatest challenge of parenting is not primarily remembering all the things that should be taught in the catechism, but primarily being a parent growing in grace and humility and trust and joy in all the ups and downs of life. Few things will have a greater power in our children’s lives to help them suffer as Christians.

Recommended Resources

If you would like to look at specific resources that help teach children about the sovereignty of God, the glorious truth of the Gospel and how to deal with suffering, we recommend the following:

God’s Providence: A family devotional guide

My Purpose Will Stand: A study for 6th grade students on the providence of God

Helping Children to Understand the Gospel: A resource for parents with 10 family devotions

Catechism: Out of Date or a Tried and True Teaching Tool of Eternal Truths: A seminar by Sally Michael

 
 

What Do You Want Your Child to Look Like 50 Years from Now?

What Do You Want Your Children to Look Like 50 Years from Now?

In the midst of a world in turmoil, it is the responsibility of parents and the church to partner together to train children to be strong in faith and mighty in Spirit. In his seminar, Teaching Children to Stand Firm in a Hostile Culture, Pastor Ron Rudd explains three areas children need to be trained in so they are prepared to stand firm through the years.

 

 

How do we want our children to look in 10, 20, 40 or 50 years from now? We pray that their hearts will love God. That they exhibit godly character. That they obey God’s Word. That they put their hope in God. We pray that our children’s future will be spent living for a higher goal—God’s glory.

 

Committed to Our Calling as Parents

 

Training Children to Stand Firm in a Hostile Culture

We encourage you to listen to the full seminar to learn more about the problems we face in our culture; the responsibilities of parents and the church; our part and God’s part of the plan to teach our children; and our ultimate end goal.

Watch the Seminar

Download the Notes

 

 

 

Introducing Our NEW Student Buttons

 

Students studying a Midweek Bible curriculum from Children Desiring God are encouraged to earn Student Buttons by completing four special projects during the study.

The age-appropriate projects are designed to reinforce the truths students are being taught in class. They include memorizing the books of the Bible, memorizing Scripture, reading books, doing devotions, collecting items from nature to reveal the greatness of God and more.

 

Student Buttons

 

The new Student Buttons feature a clean, modern look. We are also excited to announce that they are more affordable for churches than our classic Button and Badges Sets. The four, 1 1/2 inch buttons are perfect for children to display on backpacks or church bags!

Choose a curriculum below to learn more and see the buttons up close!
If you have questions, please give us a call at 877.400.1414 or write info@childrendesiringGod.org.

He Has Been Clearly Seen

I Stand in Awe

The Way of the Wise

Fight the Good Fight

 

Classic Button and Badges Sets on Sale

If you are still interested our Classic Buttons and Badges Sets, they are on sale for $25 (includes sets for 5 students). They be available to order on the curriculum pages only while supplies last.

 

 

 

Team Leaders, How’s Your Team?

Team Leaders, How's Your Team

Team Leaders, you have a special role in serving alongside and leading a team of children’s ministry volunteers in your classroom. Here are five practical ways you can connect with your teachers, small group leaders, worship leaders and helpers in order to develop stronger relationships and support them through the school year. Try one or more ideas to show them Christ, encourage them in their role in your class and to challenge them to let Christ be seen in them.

1. Weekly Pre-Class Prayer and Preparation

Encourage your team to arrive 10-15 minutes before you start welcoming children into the classroom. This gives you time to talk with your team about what will be happening during class, give any last minute instructions for the morning and most importantly, pray for the children in your class to have minds to hear and hearts to respond to the truths they will be taught that day. It is also a great time for your team to share personal prayer requests and pray for any families in the class who have requested prayer. Arriving early also gives teachers times to finish setting up visuals and review their lesson material one last time, and for small group leaders to set up their tables and be ready to welcome the students.

2. One-on-One Touch Points

Aim to chat with one or two of your team members one-on-one each week for just a couple minutes. Check in on how their morning went, encourage them on something they did well, give them advice on what they could improve on and ask if there is anything else you can do to support them in their role.

3. Occasional Post-Class Debrief

Gather your team together after class for 15-20 minutes to discuss how things in class are going. This is especially helpful to do for small group leaders several times in the first couple months of class, and then occasionally through the rest of the year. This is a good time to discuss as a team what is going well in your class and what struggles your team is facing. It is neat to see team members help one another with ideas as well as see ways they can support each other with prayer.

4. Evening of Encouragement

If your team is feeling weary midway through the year, it can be refreshing to invite your team an evening of encouragement—bless them with a devotional, worship together, share evidences of God’s grace you have seen in the classroom and pray for strength to continue serving your children well. This can also be incorporated with the next idea.

5. Sunday School Social

Enjoy getting to know your team and their families! Children’s ministry is a great way to get to know others in your church and develop a community with the people you serve alongside. Help your team bond with each other and strengthen teamwork by planning several social gatherings during the year. Some ideas include a family picnic or fall bonfire, going out for coffee or dessert, hosting a couples dinner or a dessert evening in your home, having a potluck or ordering in pizza after class.

Bonus Idea: Feed Your Team

An easy way to show love to your team is to treat them to every once in a while just for fun. Celebrate a perfect fall day with some apple muffins, encourage conversation during a post-class debrief with cookies or help your team prepare for an especially busy morning with strong coffee and chocolate.

Don’t worry, you don’t have to do it all at once. Whichever approach you take to connect with your them, be sure your team knows that they are loved, prayed for and appreciated as you work together to help the next generation know and cherish their Savior!

Team Leaders, How's Your Team

Romeo and Juliet. Gospel and Doctrine.

Romeo and Juliet. Gospel and Doctrine...and the importance of catechism

Simplifying the Gospel is like simplifying the story of Romeo and Juliet. If you simply tell the story as “Two mixed-up teenagers fall in love and end up dead,” you loose the depth of the story. The background of the feuding families, the secret marriage, Romeo’s banishment and the sleeping potion Juliet took gives the story meaning and heart.

If we fail to teaching the whole counsel of God to the next generation, we remove the depth and meaning from their faith. If all they have is simplistic Bible truths—just love Jesus and believe in the cross—how will our children’s faith stand strong when they are confronted with the skepticism of our culture?

In our zeal to preach the gospel, we can often overlook or ignore the doctrinal foundations that lead to an understanding of the preciousness of the cross. In our zeal to evangelize, we must not forget that the main purpose of the organized church is to make disciples who will evangelize the nations.

One of the best ways to teach children solid doctrine is through catechesis. This is an intense, intentional, systematic, doctrinal teaching which imparts our beliefs about God, our communion with God and our obedience with God. Catechetical instruction normally employs the Socratic method of teaching through questions and answers. By utilizing the art of asking questions to stimulate critical thinking, the resulting discussion can encourage reasoning, the discovery of logical relationships, the illumination of further understanding and ultimately, the embracing of the truths discovered.

There are a variety of catechisms which present a series of questions and answers pertaining to Christian faith. Almost all of them are based on the creed and confessions of the church and they communicate these truths—what the church believes to be true about God, the Bible, the message of the Bible and its major themes about man, Christ and salvation.

Catechetical teaching is not boring, rote memorization. It is designed to not only teach the mind, but to effect our heart, affections and actions. Studying a catechism with your child will encourage you both in critical thinking, discussion and investigation of the Bible. If taught properly, it will not leave your children with parroted answers to random questions, but an understanding, learning and embracing of the truth of the Gospel and the doctrines of the Bible.

To learn more about catechism and how to teach it, watch to Sally Michael’s complete seminar:

Catechism: Out of Date or a Tried and True Teaching Tool of Eternal Truths

Watch Seminar

Download Seminar Handouts

Sally Michael Quote on Catechism

Round-Up: Encouragement for Teachers and Parents of Youth

Youth Ministry

Here is a collection of our favorite articles written in the past few years to encourage youth pastors, mentors and parents. Check out the links below for advice on partnering with parents, developing a vision for your ministry, fighting the fight of faith and planting roots of faith that will last beyond the teen years.

Youth Ministry as a Bridge

What Will Win Your Youth?

Centering Youth on the Word

A Genuine Parent and Youth Ministry Partnership

The Importance of Parents in Youth Ministry

Youth Ministry: Set Apart or A Part

Already Relevant

Abusing “Jesus Loves Me”?

We Need the Wisdom of the Past

Preparing Teens for the Great Battle

 

 

Now Available: The Fighter Verses Study, Part D

Fighter Verses

The Fighter Verses Study, Part DDo you long to have the Word of God engraved on your soul; to be instructed, counseled, and convicted by Scripture; to have your worldview shaped by the Word, and not by the World? Memorizing the Word makes it possible to meditate on the Word, which carries the potential of shaping our thinking and our affections.

The Fighter Verses Study is a devotional for families, small groups, classes and individuals. Each week’s lesson is based on a verse or short passage that will equip you to “fight the fight of faith.” A series of questions, which can be answered personally or discussed in a group, will lead you to a better understanding of the verses. You will be challenged with application questions, inspired by prayer points and encouraged to journal and memorize the passage.

The Fighter Verses Study, Park D is the final quarterly installment of the year-long study and includes 13 lessons. The verses studied, which mirror Set 1 of the Fighter Verses Bible Memory program, include:

Titus 3:4-6 (Work of Christ)
Isaiah 46:9-10 (Sovereignty of God)
Proverbs 1:10 (Battling Sin)
Proverbs 3:5-6 (Trusting God)
Proverbs 19:11 (Battling Anger)
John 15:5 (Life in Christ)
John 14:2-3 (Eternity)
Psalm 125:1-2 (Trusting God)
Psalm 141:3-4 (Speech)
1 John 1:8-9 (Battling Sin)
Psalm 23 (Guidance of God)

Each quarter of The Fighter Verses Study is a stand alone part that can be done in any order. Feel free to start with Part D to coincide with the Fighter Verses schedule, start the year-long study now or pick and choose the a part that features your family’s favorite verse or a theme you want to study together.

Learn more about The Fighter Verses Study

Download a Sample of the Study

View the Scope & Sequence for Part D

Order Now!

We pray that The Fighter Verses Study Part D will help you, your family or your small group discover the joy of mining the Word of God as you learn together to observe, interpret and personally apply it. And may God’s Word be imprinted on your mind and firmly established in your heart!

 

 

 

Introducing a NEW Resource for Families: My Church Notebook

INTRODUCING

My Church Notebook

My Church NotebookChurch services give us the opportunity to come into the presence of God with other people of God, both young and old. As children observe the example of their parents and join believers in worship, they learn to concentrate on God and see His greatness.

Children are more likely to cherish and delight in the worship of God if they witness that heart for worship in the church. When they see their parents and other adults bow their heads in earnest prayer, or lift their hands in praise, the genuine worship they observe can stir their hearts to worship. Children can observe parents listening intently to the sermon, taking notes, and processing the truth they are hearing. They observe this hunger for the Word of God which can stir the same longing in their own hearts.

My Church NotebookMy Church Notebook will guide your elementary aged children to participate in the service. It teaches them to actively listen to the sermon, take notes, recognize key points, and ask questions. In response to what they hear, children can determine what God wants them to think, be, or do. With God’s help, children can discover who He is, understand more of His Word, and grow in their love for the truth.

My Church Notebook helps children to concentrate on God as they come into His presence.

Learn More

Order a My Church Notebook for your children today and discover the vision for including children in the worship service!

 

 

 

The ABCs of God: An Inside Look at Application

The ABCs of God

In a Sunday school class, application discussion is vital after the lesson because it is in this time that the children are most personally challenged to embrace the truth with their hearts and respond to it in their lives. Biblical truth is not meant to merely remain head knowledge, but is meant to transform the heart. Small Group leaders have the privilege of leading this application time as they serve as mentors for a group of four to eight students during the year.

In the revised curriculum, The ABCs of God, the application section has been rewritten to better equip small group leaders. Each lesson includes four to six topics, based on main ideas in the lesson, to choose from and discuss with their students.

During the week, leaders are encouraged to study the lesson and pray through the questions to determine which are appropriate for their group. The aim of the discussion is not merely to see whether or not children remember the lesson, but more importantly, to help children focus on the heart issues and ask how the truths presented in the lesson personally apply to their own lives.

The Student Workbook is another valuable tool to use during small group time. The activities directly tie into and enhance the discussion questions leaders will be asking as they review key points of the lesson. The workbook also encourages students with different learning styles by providing a visual and tactile outlet to help process what they are learning.

Look inside the curriculum and see the changes! Here are several examples of the new workbook pages and a sample of the Small Group Application from the lesson on Incomprehensible.

 

 

Lesson 2: Incomprehensible
God is more than we can fully understand.

Workbook

Ask the children to recall the letter of the alphabet that was introduced in today’s lesson. Instruct them to look in the workbook for the page with the large letter “I.” Read the memory verse from Job 37:5 and encourage the children to recite it with you. Point to the words “cannot comprehend.” Then help the children trace the word “COMPREHEND” where indicated. Explain that these two words together mean “incomprehensible.” Give the children markers, crayons, and/or stickers to decorate the letter.

Knowing God

Ask the children to each tell you one or two things about their parents. Do the children know everything there is to know about their parents? Even though they don’t, do they still know enough to love their parents? Next, ask them to tell you something that they know about God.

What does it mean for us that God is more than we can fully understand? However, can we still know enough about God to love and trust Him? Yes!

Read John 20:31 and explain what God has made known to us from the words of the Bible.

Learning about God

In what ways does God help us learn more about who He is? [through the Bible, by seeing what He has made and done, answers to prayers, testimonies of other Christians, etc.]

Talk about ways in which the children can specifically learn more about God. [e.g., listening carefully during Bible teaching time in Sunday school, during the worship service, parents’ teaching, etc.]

Always More to Learn about God

Ask the children what it means if someone refers to another person as a “know-it-all.”

Can any of us be considered a “know-it-all” about God? Does that include adults and older people, even Sunday school teachers or pastors? Will any of us ever be able to completely know and understand the answers to the questions “Who is God?” and “What is God like?” Why is it a good thing that God is incomprehensible, and what should that encourage us to do? [e.g., God is greater and more wonderful than we could ever imagine. Every day we can learn new things about God. God will never get “old or boring.” We don’t need to feel frustrated or give up because we can’t understand everything about God, etc.]

Loving and Trusting God

Point out that even though God is incomprehensible, He makes us able to understand enough about Him to trust and love Him (1 Corinthians 2:12).

Do you want to understand more about who God is and what He is like? Why or why not? Why is it important that we learn about how great God is?

Give practical suggestions about how they could learn more about God in the coming week (e.g., having daily Bible time). Pray with the children that you would have hearts and minds that would desire to learn more about God this week.

Responding to the Greatness of God

Have you ever been amazed by something you have seen? Give an example of something amazing you have seen that you have not fully understood (e.g., a beautiful sunset). How do people usually respond to something amazing, that’s too wonderful to completely understand? How should we respond to the “more than we can understand” greatness of God?

Read Psalm 145:2-3.

How can you respond to the greatness of God this week?

Trusting God When Bad Things Happen

Quickly review the “bad” things that happened in Job’s life.

When God allows things to happen to us that are hard to understand, even things that hurt us or cause us to feel sad, is it right to think that we will always be able to understand why God is allowing those things to happen? What did Job find out from God? (Recall Job 42:3b.) How can we trust God when sad things happen? Would it be easier to trust God by knowing Him more or less? Why would it be easier to trust Him more when we know more about what He is like? [e.g., If we know that a man is a trained fireman, we can be more confident of his ability to help us if there were a fire in our home.] How can you learn more about God this week? Is there something that you would like to know about Him that would help you with a hard situation? How can we pray about this situation?

NOW AVAILABLE: The ABCs of God

Now Available: The ABCs of God

The ABCs of God revised curriculum is now here! This 40-week Sunday school curriculum helps first grade children discover our amazing God who is worthy of our greatest love, honor, trust and obedience.

Who is God?
What is God like?
How should I act toward God?

The answers to these questions are of utmost importance in the life of faith for children and adults alike. The ABCs of God uses the framework of the alphabet to introduce children to the attributes of God from Almighty (God is all-powerful) to Zealous (God acts with His whole heart).

Take advantage of this exciting opportunity to teach the children in your church or home about God’s character. Then join with us in our prayer that your children will desperately seek God, passionately love Him, unceasingly trust and obey Him, and forever enjoy Him.

Sample Lessons

Order Now

Our best selling curriculum is now better than ever!

The ABCs of God Classroom KitUpdated Lessons

Lessons have been refined to include stronger illustrations, deeper main points, increased teacher student interaction, detailed instructions for teachers and a streamlined format.

 

 

The ABCs of God VisualsAll New Visuals

The lesson visuals have been recreated to better engage students. Now, there are 334 color pages of original photography, Bible illustrations, eye catching graphics and historical images.

 

 

 

The ABCs of God Student WorkbookExpanded Application

Small group application questions have been significantly updated to help leaders facilitate discussions concerning heart changing topics.

The Student Workbook maintains the classic layout with a letter for kids to color each week, but has been updated with more intentional activities and illustrations.

 

The ABCs of God New ActivitiesNew Activities

Bonus Review Activities have been added to each lesson. These sheets refresh children’s memory of previous lessons as themes build on each other.

Two Optional Activities are provided to fill extra class time with interactive learning. They include games, simple crafts and memory verse activities.

 


See how The ABCs of God can fit into your early elementary classes by viewing the Curriculum Sample. To get your own copy, order online or call our customer service team at 877.400.1414.

Would you like to upgrade you curriculum?

If you currently own a copy of The ABCs of God, you may be eligible for a free or discounted Classroom Kit and/or Teacher’s Guide upgrade. Learn more about our upgrade pricing, then call our customer service team at 877.400.1414 to place your order.

 

 

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