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The Beauty and Ugliness of Christmas

Children Desiring God Blog // The Beauty and Ugliness of Christmas

Childhood memories leave a lasting impression on our lives. In walking down memory lane, here are some of my own childhood memories regarding Christmas (in no particular order):

  • a Christmas tree in the living room
  • special decorations, lights, and candles
  • singing Christmas carols
  • a Nativity set in which baby Jesus was placed in the center
  • presents!
  • family gatherings
  • yummy meals and treats
  • sitting by the fireplace with hot cocoa
  • the Christmas Eve service at church
  • celebrating the birth of Jesus

All beautiful and wonderful memories to instill in a child. But there is something very important missing from this list…something not impressed upon me as a child. Something we all need in our Christmas. What could this possibly be? Consider the following thoughts: (more…)

A Gift That Keeps On Giving for a Lifetime

Children Desiring God Blog // A Gift that Keeps on Giving for a Lifetime

As a child, I remember the excitement I experienced as I watched the growing number of presents being placed under the Christmas tree. How many had my name on them? What was in that huge one? Would I receive the gift that I had been dreaming of? And yet, years later, I don’t really remember any of those gifts. All those tangible, child-delighting things have faded from memory. I am sure they were readily enjoyed for a time, but they didn’t have any life-long impact.

Along with some fun gifts, have you ever considered giving your children something that will provide a means of greater and longer lasting joy? Then consider giving your children…a catechism! Yes, a catechism. Not at the top of their “wish list”? Probably not even on the list. But consider the following words from Sally Michael:

Perhaps the reason many people have a negative opinion regarding catechisms and doctrinal teaching is that there is a prevalent misunderstanding of catechesis. What so often comes to mind are thoughts like: “rote memorization,” “boring,” “dry,” “lifeless,” and “mechanical.”

(more…)

God’s Holiness in the Classroom

Children Desiring God Blog // God's Holiness in the Classroom

What might happen in our classrooms if we took these words by David Wells to heart:

Until we recognize afresh the centrality of God’s holiness, until it once again enters into the innermost fibers of evangelical faith, our virtue will lack seriousness, our belief will lack poignancy, our practice will lack moral pungency, our worship will lack joyful seriousness, our preaching [and teaching] will lack the mordancy of grace, and the church will be just one more special interest pleading for hearing in a world of competing enterprises.

 (God In the Wasteland,
© 1994, page 145)

The centrality of God’s holiness…Does it enter into the innermost fibers of our classrooms? If so, how? First of all, we need to define God’s holiness. Here is a helpful summary:

…the word signifies everything about God that sets Him apart from us and makes Him an object of awe, adoration, and dread to us. It covers all aspects of His transcendent greatness and moral perfection, and is characteristic of all His attributes, pointing to the “God-ness” of God at every point. The core of this truth, however, is God’s purity that cannot tolerate any form of sin (Hab. 1:13), and calls sinners to constant self-abasement in His presence (Is. 6:5).

(from The Reformation Study Bible,
Ligonier Ministries © 2005, page 168) 

(more…)

Giving Children a Great Vision of God and His Word

 

Children Desiring God Blog // Giving Children a Vision of God and His Word

For some, an initial review of our curriculum and resources might evoke the following:

Why use curricula that is so doctrinally weighty for children?

Why such serious and challenging Bible teaching for young minds and hearts?

 Here are two short videos from Ligonier Ministries that succinctly clarify what is at stake:

Do You Have an Inadequate Understanding of God?” by John MacArthur

Don’t Ever Be Cavalier About the Truth of God” by R.C. Sproul

That is why Children Desiring God is committed to developing resources that present our children and students with a great vision and understanding of God, and a serious study of His Word.

(more…)

Teach God’s Testimonies So That…

Children Desiring God Blog // Teach God's Testimonies So That

If you have ever listened or watched David and Sally’s Michael’s three-part “Vision for the Next Generation” series, you know that Psalm 78 plays a prominent role in establishing a vision for faith in the next generations. Consider verses 5-7:

He established a testimony in Jacob
and appointed a law in Israel,
which he commanded our fathers
to teach to their children,
that the next generation might know them,
the children yet unborn,
and arise and tell them to their children,
so that they should set their hope in God

Pastor David Michael gives a brief summary based on this Old Testament text: (more…)

Teaching Children Law and Gospel

Teaching Children Law and Gospel

Here is an aspect of parenting and ministry to children that is crucial for a right understanding of the Gospel:

Children need to learn early about their creature-Creator relationship to God. They are under authority and owe God complete obedience to His commandments…

They need to be helped to think theologically about their failures to obey—that is, they need to learn to see their sin in relation to God. So being dishonest is not only an unkindness to others, it is also a violation of the ninth commandment. Taking something that belongs to another child is not simply carelessness or selfishness, it is breaking the eighth commandment. A child’s disobedience to his parent is not simply hurtful or disrespectful, it is disobeying God’s fifth commandment.

By pointing out these connections to children we can help them see their actions in the light of God’s law… (more…)

Going Deep in Knowing God

Going Deep in Knowing God

Here are two quotes I came upon recently that challenge us to think about the purpose and priority of teaching our children and youth the deep things of God:

If we want to love God more, we have to know Him more deeply. And the more we search the Scriptures, and the more we focus our minds’ attention on who God is and what He does, the more we understand just a tiny little bit more about Him and the more our souls break out in flame. We have a greater ardor to honor Him. The more we understand God with our minds, the more we love Him with our minds. (more…)

A Scandal in Our Midst?

A Scandal in Our Midst?

I am constantly amazed and alarmed by the impulse to minimize the Bible in our church classrooms. Consider a typical Sunday school classroom. Let’s say you have an hour’s timeframe. How much of that time is actually spent reading and studying the Bible text? How does this compare to time spent on other activities? How much time are the children (of reading age) spending with their Bibles open, personally interacting with the text? Yes, the latter is unrealistic for 5-year-olds, but by second grade and onward, children should be spending an increasing amount of the Sunday school lesson hour being taught directly from Scripture.

In his article, “The Scandal of Biblical Illiteracy: It’s Our Problem,” Dr. Albert Mohler says the following:

Christians who lack biblical knowledge are the products of churches that marginalize biblical knowledge. Bible teaching now often accounts for only a diminishing fraction of the local congregation’s time and attention… (more…)

The Faith of a Child

The Faith of a Child

As parents, our greatest goal and joy for our children should be that they come to faith in Christ and live as His faithful disciples, for the glory of God. Therefore, clearly presenting and explaining the essential truths of the Gospel and demonstrating what it means to follow Jesus in daily life is our greatest duty and privilege as we teach and train our children. But trying to discern whether or not a child has truly understood and grasped the meaning of the Gospel is sometimes harder to assess.

Here are two pastors who offer some wise counsel for parents and teachers:

Children can memorize and repeat what they have heard their parents and teachers say, but that doesn’t mean that they understand it all. Neither does it mean that they are personally committed to those truths.

A few questions can determine where a child is spiritually. (more…)

The Gospel Alphabet—Jesus Saves!

The Gospel Alphabet - Jesus Saves!

One of the very first words my grandson learned to write was his name, “David.” Five letters of the alphabet, written in a specific order, and they now identify a little boy. Each letter significant. Each unique. Each letter necessary for his name.

In the past several posts, I have used the example of teaching children the alphabet to highlight the necessity of teaching children a type of “Gospel alphabet.” This alphabet consists of foundational truths—antecedents—that are meant to help our children properly understand the person and work of Jesus. In brief summary, children need to be taught…

Introducing these truths in a slow, step-by-step, progression is an important part of our children’s formal Bible education. These truths provide the necessary foundation for understanding these two words:

Jesus saves.

Two very short words. Only six distinct letters…yet incomparable in their greatness, worth, and meaning! But unless we have given children some antecedents for understanding these two words, their grasp of the riches of the Gospel and the glory of Jesus will be sorely deficient. (more…)

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