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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…)

A Summer Praise Walk with Children

When I was a child, and even into my teens, I spent most of my free time outdoors. Whether playing active games with friends, exploring the neighborhood woods, or simply laying in the grass and trying to identify different shapes or figures in the clouds, we spent much of our summer disconnected from media or other electronics. Now that I am an adult, I have found I still benefit from enjoying the outdoors, as it evokes praise and admiration of God as I experience first-hand the wonders He has created. (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…)

Keeping the Throne Room in View

The following are some reflections on a “throne” perspective of ministry from Pastor David Michael:

What Isaiah saw [Isaiah 6:1-4] was surreal for him, and how much more for us. What Isaiah saw was so far outside his experience, and it is even more outside of our experience. It is difficult for us to connect to this scene. The Lord, high and lifted up—a royal robe with a train…Six-winged seraphim. Powerful voices shaking the thresholds, and filling the house with smoke burning coals, tongs. That’s nothing like what I’ve experienced. Even in the describing of it, it doesn’t come close to the reality. It’s like looking at a snapshot of the Grand Canyon. The snapshot doesn’t give justice to the view. Being there is incredible. (more…)

Raising Children Who Set Their Hope in…

So what’s the missing word here?

themselves?

dad and mom?

their financial stability?

their scholastic achievement? (more…)

“The _______ of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom;”

Most of us are familiar with these words from Psalm 111:10 and know that the missing word is “fear.”  But what comes to mind when we read “The fear of the LORD”? Or think about Psalm 96:9 where the psalmist says “Worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness; tremble before him, all the earth!” (ESV)

Fear the Lord and tremble before Him.  Are we teaching our children and youth these truths? Are we rightly defining what these truths mean and why they are important? (more…)

The Cross is Not a “Flyover”

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This is Holy Week and, as a Sunday school teacher, I have always found it somewhat frustrating that in our teaching cycle Good Friday is situated between two joyous celebrations. If we are not careful and intentional, Jesus’ death on the cross can become a “flyover” between Palm Sunday and Easter.

Think about it for a moment. Both Palm Sunday and Easter lend themselves to all sorts of wonderful and exciting possibilities for the children—colorful crafts and activities, boisterous songs, and happy Bible stories. But what about the cross? It doesn’t lend itself to these naturally appealing activities, does it? The story of Jesus’ death on the cross is filled with pain, sorrow, betrayal, abandonment, and darkness. It is the story of a holy and righteous Father pouring out His just wrath at sin on His one beloved sinless Son. But without the cross there would be no reason to celebrate Palm Sunday or Easter.

He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. (1 Peter 2:24 ESV)

In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, (Ephesians 1:7 ESV)

Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. (Romans 5:9 ESV)

That is why our children need the “sad” story of Jesus’ death on the cross—the pain, the nails, and even the wrath and the blood—if they are to ever to truly understand, embrace, and celebrate Palm Sunday and Easter in their hearts. So let’s make sure that we leave plenty of room for telling and explaining the story of the Cross. May it never be a “flyover” in our church calendar, but may we thoughtfully, truthfully, and passionately proclaim its immeasurable significance.

Patiently Awaiting the Harvest

Spring is in the air—almost. And as an avid gardener, I have great expectations. But first, there’s work to do. After all, gardening involves hard work. Yes, there’s the actual physical work—hauling compost, turning over the soil, hoeing, planting, weeding, etc. But for me, the hardest part of gardening is the waiting. Waiting for spring. Waiting for the last frost. Waiting for the first sprouts to come up. Waiting for the first flowers to blossom. Waiting for the first vegetables to develop. Working and waiting.

In a sense, that is what faithful children’s ministry is all about. It is like gardening. It is a commitment to faithful work and hope-filled waiting. Sometimes it is hard not to be impatient. Every lesson taught anticipates children responding with genuine faith and bearing spiritual fruit. And while it is true that the Holy Spirit may move in such a way to make that happen before our very eyes on any given day, it is also likely that we will not “see” any spiritual fruit at times. Instead, we might see inattentiveness, boredom, indifference, lack of true understanding, and rebellious hearts. In those times it is especially important to hold on to these words from the apostle Paul,

I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. (1 Corinthians 3:6)

Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain. (1 Corinthians 15:58)

So be encouraged. Keep preparing the soil of a child’s heart. Keep planting the seed of the Gospel. Water carefully and often with the Word of God and words of encouragement. And then pray that God, in His sovereign grace and perfect wisdom, will bring about a fruitful harvest.

So keep working, because in Christ your faithful labors are not in vain.

And keep patiently watching and waiting, because the Lord of the Harvest is at work!

Looking for an excellent resource on how parents and teachers can be more effective in nurturing the faith of a child? Read Art Murphy’s The Faith of a Child: A Step-by-Step Guide to Salvation for Your Child.

Photo Credit: Lauren Mitchell
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