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On the Top of Every List

School supplies are everywhere these days. Most schools give parents lists — sometimes really long ones! — of supplies their children will need for the first day of school. As a longtime Sunday school teacher, I would like to give parents a list for their children’s Sunday school class. You’ll be very happy to know that there is only one item on that list: a Bible. Not a storybook Bible. Not a New Testament and Psalms. The full Scriptures, Old and New Testaments. (more…)

Why Stay “Hitched” to the Old Testament?

Earlier this year, controversy swirled around pastor Andy Stanley when he said in a sermon that Christians should “unhitch” their faith from the Old Testament. In a podcast interview with Jonathan Merritt last week, he tried to clarify what he meant by expanding on his earlier comments. He said, “I am convinced for the sake of this generation and the next generation, we have to rethink our apologetic as Christians, and the less we depend on the Old Testament to prop up our New Testament faith the better because of where we are in [the] culture.”

But we see in Psalm 78 precisely the opposite: (more…)

“More Sword Drills, Please!”

(with Jill Nelson)

The first time I heard our young grade school-aged sons say they spent some of the Sunday school hour doing “sword drills,” I wondered if maybe they’d had a guest speaker from the Army. I’m only half kidding. Not having grown up in churches that had Sunday school, I had to ask them what they meant by the term. They explained that the teacher would announce an “address” (chapter and verse) for a Bible passage, and then all the kids would hold their closed Bibles over their heads, and once the teacher said “Go!”, they’d race to see who could find it first. (more…)

The Key to Effective Ministry to Children and Youth

Late summer is a busy time for children’s and youth ministry as church staff and volunteers gear up for the beginning of a new school year. And, increasingly, there are new and exciting resource options out there to consider—resources that claim to engage students in ways that are “relevant” to their particular age group, along with teaching methods and class resources that will keep students eagerly coming back week after week. There’s nothing wrong with that, necessarily. (more…)

Praying big and bold prayers for the next generations

How are you praying for the next generation?

Over the past several months we are concentrating our prayers on the larger purposes of God for our children, our grandchildren, the children in our church, and the children we have the opportunity to teach–the kind of prayers that we are confident align with the will of God and can be assured of His answers. For example, right now, the church where I serve needs about 90 more workers to volunteer in the next two weeks. Certainly we should not hesitate to ask God for those 90 workers, but we want to concentrate our prayers on larger purposes for which those workers are needed. The challenge for us has been to “seek first” these larger purposes for our children and trust God that all the other things (like the 90 workers) will be provided. (more…)

Does Every Lesson Need to be a “Jesus and the Cross” Lesson?

Much has been said in recent years about teaching the Old Testament from a distinctly Christian perspective — seeing  Jesus and the Gospel in all of Scripture. But in this video, John Piper raises an important concern about turning this perspective into a type of simplistic interpretative formula. He says,

… the danger in making a beeline to the cross too quickly and too methodically and regularly is, number one, it’ll start to sound artificial. It’ll start to sound monotonous. It’ll start to be fanciful, because you’ll come up with really clever ways of doing things that aren’t really there and it’ll keep you from seeing important things that are there.

(more…)

5 Ways to Get More from Your Curriculum This Fall

Fall is fast approaching, which means many Sunday School and Midweek children’s programs will launch soon. Besides recruiting volunteers (often a huge task), there are many preparations that should occur well before the first day of class. Don’t lose heart. Some thoughtful pre-planning can go a long way toward a fruitful autumn. (more…)

Who Is the Most Important Person?

We will not hide them from their children,
but tell to the coming generation
the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his might,
and the wonders that he has done (Psalm 78:4).

This passage instructs us to lay before our children the glorious deeds of the Lord—how strong and powerful He is, and the wonders that He has done. This concept reaches its apex at the Cross; a place where the gloriousness and the powerful reality of God converged, as God willingly sacrificed his son—to the wonderment of the world—and the wonderment of all of the universe. The challenge we face is that this message is either set in the context of a culture that is inclined to reject it, or that the message of God’s glorious deeds is never even heard. (more…)

Lullaby Theology: Singing the Whole Counsel of God

At two years old, David is finding his singing voice. From the backseat he warbles about “The Wheels of the Bus,” and in the bathtub he chirps out “The Itsy, Bitsy Spider.” But yesterday I found him on our bed, thumbing through Daddy’s Bible, singing “Jesus Loves Me.” We got out the ESV Bible my parents gave David when he was born and sat on the bed, looking at the pictures and singing the songs he had learned about God. One of those songs was Praise Him, Praise Him, All Ye Little Children:

Praise Him, praise Him, all ye little children,
God is love, God is love;
Praise Him, praise Him, all ye little children,
God is love, God is love.

(more…)

Why Children Need a High View of God

I still remember reading A. W. Tozer’s book, The Knowledge of the Holy, back when I was in my freshman year of college. In the preface of that book, Tozer writes, “The view of God entertained among evangelicals these days is so low, so beneath the dignity of God as to constitute idolatry.”

How important it is to know God rightly. (more…)

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