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Traditions and Our Children

I have really enjoyed Noël Piper’s book Treasuring God in Our Traditions . As the holidays are fast upon us, I would highly recommend this resource for every family. Noël not only gives great ideas for celebrating “especially” traditions like Thanksgiving, Christmas, and birthdays, but she also discusses the importance “everyday” traditions that help point our children God-ward. Here is an excerpt:

You shall teach [God’s words] to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. (Deuteronomy 11:19)

When I get caught up in the biography of a person I admire, my family hears all about this person for days. Whatever someone says seems to remind me of some  event in her life. So mealtime conversations are filled with stories that flow from my own fascination. As we are filling our hearts and souls with God’s Word, what will be more natural than the same sort of spillover onto our family?

But are we really talking about tradition here? Isn’t this passage about teaching and about God’s Word? Yes, and one of the main features of traditions is repetition. Of course, we wouldn’t say that sitting or walking or lying down or rising up, no matter how frequently they’re repeated, are traditions. But those activities represent the things that we do most often, and they are named as reminders to do the most crucial thing we can do for our children—teach them the words of God. God wants us to remember to see him in the most mundane parts of our lives. And what we see, he wants us to talk about with our children. When that level of significance is added to the ordinary repetitions of life, a tradition is created.

Sitting, walking, lying down, and rising up are so insignificant that we don’t even give them a thought. But I pray that my children will look back at “insignificant” times and ask each other, “Remember trying to catch Mom and Dad before they got up in the morning so we could snuggle with them, and how lots of times Daddy prayed out loud before we all got out of bed?” or “Remember when we asked questions, and somehow the answers always came back to God?”

Things like that don’t just happen. They come first from our own hearts that are tuned in to God. Then they happen because we plan to include our children in the God-air we breathe. Without planning, we’ll practice our Bible memory just once or twice and then no more. We’ll do lots of good things, but only a couple of times. One of the great strengths of good traditions in our lives is the repetition—not something done once, then something else, then another thing altogether, but good things done regularly, dependably, until they become habits.

(Taken from Treasuring God in Our Traditions by Noël Piper, © 2003, pages 24-25. Used by permission of Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187, www.crossway.org)

What Our Children Should Understand About Work

Work

Today is Labor Day in the United States, and you might want to consider using it as an opportunity to instruct your children about a biblical view of labor. Here is a quote from famous English author Dorothy Sayers that could serve as an interesting discussion starter:

The only Christian work is good work well done. Let the Church see to it that the workers are Christian people and do their work well, as to God: then all the work will be Christian work, whether it is Church embroidery or sewage-farming.

And here are three main ideas for further study and discussion:
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Fall Gear Up: Prayer—What if…

Prayer

In his booklet Utter Dependency on God, Through PrayerPastor Bud Burk beckons us to consider some “what if” questions regarding prayer in our classrooms. Here are a few of his “what if…”

What if the prayer environment in our classrooms (like Sunday school) was real and growing to the degree that parents began to ask a second question next to the first after each class time, the first being “what did you learn today”? What if they began asking questions like, “were you with God today—did you spend time with Jesus—what did the Spirit say to you while in prayer and in the Word”?

What if children knew that we expected God to be present in our classroom, because our expectation shaped how we prayed while among them?

What if the ministry to the next generation God has placed you in was known for its obvious God-glorifying

  • Word ministry: We teach children the Bible.
  • Prayer ministry: We help children listen to and pray to the God of the Bible in Jesus’ name.
  • What if your ministry could be summarized by Psalm 119:2, “Blessed are those who keep his testimonies, who seek him with their whole heart,”?

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Take Heart, Trouble’s Coming

Let not Your Heart be Troubled

The title of this post is my effort to offer a word of encouragement and hope for those who are getting ready to launch another season of ministry with children and youth. The rest of this post is for those who having difficulty finding encouragement and hope in the title.

I am taking my cues from the Lord Jesus, whose final words for his disciples span chapters 14-16 in gospel of John. One clear message of this discourse is that trouble is coming.

I am going away,” (14:28)
“I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming.” (14:30)
Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” (15:13)
“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you.” (15:18)
“I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.” (15:19)
“If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you.” (15:20)
They will put you out of the synagogues…” (16:2)
“…the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God.” (16:2)
“A little while, and you will see me no longer…” (16:16)
“Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament,…You will be sorrowful,…” (16:20)
“….you will be scattered, each to his own home, and will leave me alone.” (16:32)

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Growing in Faith Together: Parent and Child Resource Pages

GIFT thumb

Parents have the unique responsibility and awesome privilege of shepherding their children spiritually. We want to help churches equip parents to bring truth to bear on the daily life experiences they share
as a family. It is in these daily experiences that the Word can be tried
and found true.

To that end, we include Growing in Faith Together (GIFT): Parent and Child Resource Pages with all our curriculum, to help parents in this important calling. GIFT pages have been written to help parents interact with their children about what they are learning in class. These pages help parents discuss truths that their child is learning in class and help the child apply these truths in daily life, in the hope that their son or daughter will grow in spiritual understanding and in faith.

Some of the benefits of the newly-revised GIFT pages are:

  • They are now available in a convenient spiral-bound version, which can be provided to parents at the beginning of the year. This saves administrative time for church staff and/or teachers.
  • Stories of God’s providence provided for each lesson can be read aloud and discussed as a family. These can serve as a supplement to your family’s regular devotion times.
  • As You Walk by the Way exercises are designed to prompt deep discussions, encouraging parents and their children to engage in spiritual conversations as a part of normal everyday life.

Spiral-bound GIFT pages can be ordered in sets of 10. Note: These pages are also available on the the DVD that is included in the Classroom Kit and can be e-mailed to parents or printed and distributed each week.

The Generations in Worship

Watching and Listening

Here is an excellent message by Pastor Bud Burk (Pastor for Child & Youth Discipleship, Bethlehem Baptist Church) for everyone in the church, especially parents and pastors regarding children being present with their parents in the corporate worship service. A few excerpts for your encouragement…  (more…)

Aiming Children Toward God-Esteem

The following are some important and challenging words by John Piper from a sermon titled “Predestined for Adoption to the Praise of His Glory.  (more…)

Seeing and Pursuing True Greatness

True greatness is all around us. The question is do we see it? - C. J. Mahaney
“Awesome!” That’s a word I often hear used by many of the young people I meet and teach. But the word is often being used to describe something that really isn’t awesome, great, or amazing…at least not in the biblical sense of the word. The fact is, our culture is at work instructing and shaping our children’s view of “greatness”, especially personal greatness. Unless we intentionally teach our children to know and recognize true greatness, they may miss the many evidences of it in the “ordinary” lives of God’s people. (more…)

Reflections on Memorial Day

Today is Memorial Day in the USA. For many, it is simply a day off, the start of the summer vacation season, or a day to start on the long-awaited garden. But for me, this “holiday” took on a whole new meaning three years ago. Memorial Day 2010 was a time to say goodbye to our son before he left for Afghanistan where he would be serving with the Army for a year. (more…)

The Impact of the Holiness of God in Our Children’s and Youth Ministries

Thoughtfully consider these words from Dr. Bruce Ware:

First, because of God’s transcendent otherness, his independence from all things created, his self-sufficient existence in the joyous and blessed fellowship of the Triune Persons, his fullness of perfections and infinite completeness within himself alone—because of this, he simply does not need these people whom he has created, to whom he has pledged his undying and faithful commitment to their everlasting well-being.  (more…)

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