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Abusing “Jesus Loves Me”?

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Although these words were written by a young pastor specifically for other pastors, his point should be thoughtfully considered by anyone involved in children’s and youth ministry, and parents as well.

My generation has been big on propagating the “Jesus loves me” mantra. And he does. And praise him that he does. Without God’s self-initiating love towards me, I would be lost in hell forever. The love of God is our sacred doctrine.

 But it is possible to abuse it. There is more to God than “God loves me.” There is more to my relationship with God than “God loves me.” Not every sin in our lives is exclusively due to a failure to sufficiently ponder how much God loves us. Perhaps some of our sins are attributed to thinking “God loves me” too much.

 I wonder if my generation sometimes cries “God loves me” to distract ourselves. Perhaps other attributes of God are not fashionable enough in our day. Like the embarrassing uncle at a family reunion for whom we have to apologize, perhaps we are embarrassed to give necessary attention to God’s other attributes. Perhaps we cloak a repulsion for giving biblical effort to sanctification with “God loves me.”

 …The God of the Bible is a God of unspeakable majesty; so much so, that he rerouted his righteous wrath from his elect Bride to his impeccable Son. By election, redemption, and regeneration, sinners are sealed. A previous people were broken off to give way for our election-inclusion. The ethical imperative of God’s love is man’s fear. “Do not become proud, but fear” (Rom. 11:20).

 …The ministry is a place of sobriety, not silliness; of holiness, not hip-ness.

(From “Young Pastors & Fighting From Falling”  by Eric Davis at thecripplegate.com)

One way we can avoid abusing the wonderful doctrine of “God loves me” is to make sure we provide our students and children with a robust theology of God—one which includes a more sober and comprehensive scope of His divine attributes. Here are some words from the late Jerry Bridges that I hope and pray we will take to heart and reflect with increasing measure in our homes and classrooms:

In our day we must begin to recover a sense of awe and profound reverence for God. We must begin to view Him once again in the infinite majesty that alone belongs to Him who is the Creator and Supreme Ruler of the entire universe. (page 21)

In our day we seem to have magnified the love of God almost to the exclusion of the fear of God. Because of this preoccupation we are not honoring God and reverencing Him as we should. We should magnify the love of God; but although we revel in His love and mercy, we must never lose sight of His majesty and His holiness.

Not only will a right concept of the fear of God cause us to worship God aright, it will also regulate our conduct. (page 22)

The love of God has no meaning apart from Calvary. And Calvary has no meaning apart from the holy and just wrath of God. Jesus did not die just to give us peace and a purpose in life; He died to save us from the wrath of God. He died to reconcile us to a holy God who was alienated from us because of our sin. He died to ransom us from the penalty of sin—the punishment of everlasting destruction, shut out from the presence of the Lord. He died that we, the just objects of God’s wrath, should become, by His grace, heirs of God and co-heirs with Him. (page 24)

(From The Practice of Godliness—Godliness Has Value for All Things, copyright©1996)

 

Helping Your Children Run to God as their Refuge

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My grandson is now five years old, and he is increasingly aware of scary and dangerous things. Some are small fears—splinters, loud noises, and new children at the playground. But other fears are much more significant, like the fear of death. As he grows older, the number of scary and dangerous things he is exposed to will only grow—terrorism, cancer, calamities, etc. How can you help a young child run and trust in an “unseen” almighty God for his refuge? How can he be confident that God is a perfect refuge, even when he gets hurt or your house is damaged by a storm? One way is to talk about the concrete images that God has given us in Scripture: God is a strong tower, shield, fortress, rock, refuge…and more.

Below are some examples of texts and discussion questions to use with your children. (They are from the newly revised ABCs of God.) Maybe discuss one per day, or even one a week. Or, look for specific teachable moments when your child expresses fear over some circumstance.

  • Read Proverbs 18:10. What words does the verse use to describe God’s name? [strong tower] What word does the verse use to show that you will be protected from harm? [safe] Next read Psalm 46:1. What word means that God is like a strong tower who will keep you safe? [refuge] How do you think that you get into this “strong tower” and “refuge”? Is there a special kind of door? Read John 10:9. The way to safety is through trusting in Jesus. Jesus is like a door. When you put your trust in Jesus, God becomes your refuge, a place of perfect safety forever. If you are trusting in Jesus, no matter where you are or what kind of danger you are in, you can find refuge by calling out to Jesus. Is there anything that you have felt worried about this week? How can we turn these verses into a prayer asking for God’s help?
  • Ask your child to recall a time when he felt in danger and was scared of something. Ask: Did you try to find safety in something? What was it? Did it make you feel safe? Why or why not? Suppose you were outside at the park and a huge storm suddenly came with high winds, lightning, and hail stones. What would you try to do? Would standing under a tree be good? What about running to a car? A building? Can these things always keep you safe? Read Proverbs 18:10 and Psalm 46:1. How strong is the “tower” that God provides? [He is almighty. There is no one or nothing stronger than God.] To seek safety in God, do you need to run to a certain place, as in an actual building? What does it mean that God is a “very present help”? How does this make the refuge that God gives His people better than anything else? Was there a time in which you “ran to” God for safety and protection? What happened? Have there been any Bible verses that have helped you to feel God’s help in a time of trouble? [See verses such Psalm 18:2a; 34:22; 59:16b; 61:3; Psalm 62:7; John 14:1-3.]
  • Show your child one of the following: a greeting card within an envelope; jewelry inside a box; a bag of candy. Damage the envelope, box, or bag in a way that does not damage the card, jewelry or candy. Use the illustration to help your child understand the true meaning of God being a refuge to His people. It does not mean that our bodies will always be kept safe from all physical harm. Our bodies are like the “outer covering” (the envelope, box, or bag). Our souls—our hearts and minds—the part of us that will last forever is like what was inside. God being a refuge means that He will always keep safe what is most important. Even though God is able to keep our bodies from all harm, He is also wise and sovereign and may allow physical harm for our spiritual good. Even death is not harmful for a Christian, because it is the way in which God brings His people into the eternal refuge of heaven. Talk about some of the great promises found in John 14:1-3 or Romans 8:38-39 and have a time a prayer with your child.
  • Ask your child: Do you worry about physical harm? What makes it so scary? Do you ever worry about even more dangerous things like Satan and evil and your own sin? Do you ever feel afraid of God? Why or why not? Read Psalm 62:7. Do you think that David was talking mainly about protection and safety for his body? What is “salvation”? [God saving someone from their sin; being saved from the right punishment we deserve from God because of our sin] How can a person receive this kind of refuge—being kept safe forever from God’s anger at your sin? [through trusting in Jesus]

28 Promises Your Children Can Depend Upon

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Speaking of hymns (see yesterday’s post), one hymn I learned early on was Standing On the Promises by R. Kelso Carter. The hymn included these memorable and reassuring words:

Standing on the promises that cannot fail,

When the howling storms of doubt and fear assail,

By the living Word of God I shall prevail,

Standing on the promises of God.

But though I had the words and tune memorized, I don’t remember anyone actually describing and explaining what these promises were. What was I supposed to be standing on? Well here are 28 promises found in the Bible—all given by a faithful God who ALWAYS keeps His promises—that our children should know and can depend upon:

God promises…

  • salvation for everyone who truly repents and believes in Jesus.
  • eternal punishment (hell) for everyone who does not repent and believe in Jesus. (Yes, our children need to know that some promises are dreadful!)

For God’s children, those who trust in Jesus, God’s promises include…

  • God will be with you everywhere, at all times, watching over your life.
  • nothing can separate you from God’s love.
  • complete forgiveness when you confess your sins.
  • God will complete His work in you, making you more and more like Jesus.
  • you will bear fruit (good works).
  • God will hear your prayers.
  • He will guide you to know what is right.
  • God will provide for your needs.
  • He will not withhold any good thing that is good for your life.
  • God will fight for you and act on your behalf.
  • He is slow to anger and is patient with you.
  • God will give you strength.
  • though you may stumble, God will sustain and hold you.
  • God will discipline you for your good because He loves you.
  • He plans good for you, and He brings new mercies everyday.
  • God will be with you in hard times.
  • He will not bring any unnecessary suffering into your life.
  • If you remain steadfast under trial, you will be rewarded.
  • God will keep you from ultimate harm and guard your soul and faith.
  • He will deliver you from all your troubles.
  • God will end suffering for His children and turn it to joy.
  • All things will work together for your good.
  • God will never forsake you.
  • He will never forget His promises.
  • God is not slow in keeping His promises—His timing is perfect.
  • eternal life—living forever with Jesus!

Here are two wonderful resources to help your children learn and explore the biblical foundation of these promises, as well as how they are meant to be embraced and applied to our lives.

Curriculum:

Faithful to All His Promises: A Study for Children on the Promises of God
Grade Range: 2nd Grade-4th Grade, 40 lessons
Children will not simply learn about some of God’s promises, but rather, they will discover what it means to trust in those promises, which are God’s gift to us, not something we deserve. Faithful to All His Promises begins by teaching children what a promise is, what makes God trustworthy with these promises, and who these promises are for. Then children get to explore some specific promises from God to see how He has been and will be faithful to each of those promises.

Family devotional book:

CPGPGod’s Promises
This book is adapted from the curriculum and is a read-to and read-along book for parents with early elementary-age children. Each chapter ends with personal application and activities, and includes full-color illustrations. (120 pages)

 

Encouraging Our Children with Great Hymns

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There are days when I feel completely empty of words to build up and encourage both myself and others…including words to encourage my own grandchildren! Tragic events swirl around us, and it would be so easy to simply give in to despair. But then biblical truth comes crashing in to my mind and heart—in a good and powerful way. That Truth changes everything. Sometimes it is a particular memorized verse or series of verses that comes to mind. Hope arises and replaces despair! Give your children the great gift of memorizing Scripture!

Another way we can help encourage our children is to teach them great hymns. I know there are many seemingly “kid-friendly” song options out there—songs that are fun, exciting, and simple, but these type of songs only take our children so far. Yes, there is a place for them. I am all for teaching children songs that contain simple words and tunes that convey great truths. But we also need to begin teaching our children for life 10, 20, or even 70 years down the road. Here is a post from two years ago that came to mind today:

It is amazing to me how many times—especially in life’s most difficult situations—the words of great hymns come to mind to guide my thoughts and emotions.

…though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the ruler yet…Jesus who died shall be satisfied, And earth and heaven be one. (This is My Father’s World)

…The prince of darkness grim, We tremble not for him—His rage we can endure, For lo his doom is sure: One little word shall fell him. (A Mighty Fortress)

…Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, Prone to leave the God I love: Here’s my heart, O take and seal it, Seal it for Thy courts above. (Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing)

…Judge not the Lord by feeble sense, But trust Him for His grace; Behind a frowning providence He hides a smiling face. (God Moves in a Mysterious Way)

Great hymns are those that communicate the excellencies of the triune God and sound doctrine, encourage a right heart response, and do so in an appealing and enduring musical form. From childhood, these hymns were graven in my mind and, after Christ brought me to saving faith, these hymns became graven in my heart. Will this be true for our children, too?

Here are a few helpful suggestions for how to incorporate hymns into your family devotional time or a Sunday school setting:

  • Tell the children about the composer and circumstances surrounding the writing of the hymn. (Hymns for a Kid’s Heart is a wonderful resource for this.)
  • Explain difficult words or concepts—a little bit each week.
  • Try introducing one new hymn every month, or 4-6 learned over the course of a Sunday school year.
  • Develop simple hand/body motions to help younger children focus.

(From a seminar titled “Leading Children in God-Centered Worship” by Pam Grano)

Also, here is a post with two recommendations for hymn books for your family.

(Image courtesy of Ventrilock at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.)

Something’s Missing

Now Available: The ABCs of God

We try to include an array of helpful resources in our curricula, and the newly revised ABCs of God curriculum is no exception. However, something very important is missing—on purpose. What is it? Let me convey a true story that will emphasize what it is and why it’s missing.

19A-RefugeAbout 20 years ago, I was busy writing the first version of The ABCs of God for use in our church. At the time, I was teaching the first grade Sunday school class. The lesson for an upcoming Sunday was “Refuge—God is a place of safety for His people.” I had the lesson prepared with Bible texts studied and all the visuals prepped and ready to go. But something very important was missing…an unexpected “gift” as it were. That “gift” dramatically changed the way in which I presented the lesson.

What was the gift I’m referring to? Oddly enough, it came in the early morning hours soon after my husband Bruce had left for work, riding his bike as usual. I got the phone call from our pastor. Bruce was okay, but he had been shot while biking through the neighborhood. A man had held up a gun, demanded his money, and then simply pulled the trigger. But, interestingly enough, as he pulled that trigger his hand fell and Bruce was shot in the foot instead of the chest.

After the initial shock of hearing that my husband had been shot—in the foot no less—you know what immediately came to mind? God is our refuge and strength. God is a place of safety and protection for His people. No matter what happens—even if that bullet had taken his life—my husband would have been safe in the arms of Jesus. God truly is a refuge! I have seen and experienced Him as a strong tower!

The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe.—Proverbs 18:10

Tower of Refuge

That experience was a gift—it completely changed the manner in which I presented the lesson to those first graders, because my mind and heart had been deeply impacted and transformed by the biblical truths written into the lesson. The list of Scripture texts were no mere words on a page. God’s Word was shown to be powerful, effective, reliable, and true in a scary situation.

That Sunday, at the end of the lesson, I briefly shared what had happened to my husband—without being overly dramatic or scary. I ended the story with a note of confidence: For everyone who is trusting in Jesus, God WILL BE your refuge in every circumstance—even death, because going to be with Jesus forever is the greatest refuge of all! All eyes and ears were completely focused as I told this story. And I think the children got the point. Because, though not everyone (thankfully) will experience being shot, we all face scary things. Children may fear bullies, math tests, getting sick, grandpa dying, thunderstorms, robbers, etc. Conveying a real-life experience can help them grasp what it truly means that God is a refuge.

So what’s missing from the curriculum? You, teaching from a mind and heart that has been transformed by His Word and, when appropriate, briefly sharing experiences God has brought into your life that serve to demonstrate His greatness and worth.

 

Wowing Children with 35 Truths about God

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Our children and students long to be “wowed.” And the world presents them with a myriad of things to be wowed by—spectacular movies, sports, food, fashions, music, toys, and electronic gadgets…and on and on. My grandson happens to be wowed by pulleys—yes, those simple machines that can do all sorts of heavy lifting. Go figure.

But ultimately, what do our children and students need to be wowed by? What is truly worthy of their highest affection and praise? What will fully satisfy their “wow” hunger? There is only one answer to that: seeing and loving the incomparable greatness and grandeur of God!

How will this happen? Ultimately, by the sovereign grace of God bringing new life in our children’s lives so that they may know and treasure Him for who He is and what He is like. But we, too, have a grave responsibility and joyful privilege in this process, and that is to communicate to our children the manifold excellencies of God as revealed in His Word. Here are 35 scriptural truths about God (there are many more!) that we can begin to wow our children with:

God is…

  1. Almighty—He is all-powerful.
  2. Attentive—He constantly sees, hears, and acts in the world.
  3. Bountiful—God is more than enough to satisfy all our desires.
  4. the Creator of everything.
  5. the Deliverer—He saves His sinful people from the punishment they deserve.
  6. Eternal—He has no beginning or end.
  7. Exalted—God ranks far above everything else. He is the Most High.
  8. Faithful—God always does what He says He will do.
  9. Glorious—He shows His greatness and worth.
  10. Good—Everything God is and does is worthy of approval.
  11. Happy—He delights in being God.
  12. Holy—God is like nothing else. He is perfect and is separate from sin.
  13. Incomprehensible—He is more than we can fully understand.
  14. Jealous—God will not share His glory, or the honor and praise He deserves.
  15. King—He rules over everyone.
  16. Love—God gives of Himself for the joy of others.
  17. Merciful—God is kind to undeserving sinners.
  18. Never-Tiring—He never gets tired and never sleeps.
  19. Omnipresent—God is everywhere all the time.
  20. Omniscient—God knows everything.
  21. Patient—He is slow to anger and slow to punish.
  22. the Provider—God meets the needs of His creation.
  23. a Refuge—God is a place of safety for His people.
  24. Righteous—Everything God thinks, says, and does is right.
  25. Self-Sufficient—He doesn’t need anything.
  26. Sovereign—God has the right, wisdom, and power to do all that He pleases.
  27. Trinity—God is three Persons in one God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
  28. Unchanging—He never changes.
  29. Understanding—God remembers that we are weak.
  30. Victorious—God always wins, even over Satan, sin, and death.
  31. Wise—He causes everything to work out perfectly.
  32. Worthy—God is most valuable and deserves our greatest love, obedience, and worship.
  33. Wrathful—He is very angry at sin, and is right to punish sinners.
  34. Yahweh—This is God’s personal name and belongs to no one else.
  35. Zealous—God always acts with His whole heart.

Imagine a six- or seven-year -old being taught these truths about God! How can a new toy compare? Imagine the love children have for mom and dad—now they can see that God is infinitely more loving, kind, dependable, and deserving of their devotion and affection!

Does this seem like too much to communicate to these young children? Too lofty and deep? We have a newly revised resource aimed specifically at sharing and explaining these truths to six- and seven-year-olds. What is it? Check back tomorrow for a special announcement!

(Image courtesy of tuelekza at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.)

No Sin, No Gospel

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Last year I wrote a post titled, “Grasping Sin in Order to Grasp the Gospel,” which included this quote from D. A. Carson:

There can be no agreement as to what salvation is unless there is agreement as to that from which salvation rescues us. The problem and the solution hang together: the one explicates the other. It is impossible to gain a deep grasp of what the cross achieves without plunging into a deep grasp of what sin is; conversely, to augment one’s understanding of the cross is to augment one’s understanding of sin.

To put the matter another way, sin establishes the plotline of the Bible…

In short, if we do not comprehend the massive role that sin plays in the Bible and therefore in biblically faithful Christianity, we shall misread the Bible. Positively, a sober and realistic grasp of sin is one of the things necessary to read the Bible in a percipient fashion; it is one of the required criteria for a responsible hermeneutic. (from Fallen: A Theology of Sin, copyright © 2013, as republished on www.monergism.com)

Question: Are we helping our children and students understand the massive role of sin in the plotline of the Bible? Interestingly enough, one of the questions we sometimes get at CDG relates to the prevalence of “sin talk” in our curriculum—especially in the younger grades. Is all this depressing talk of sin really necessary for these young children? Why not go right to the solution instead? Because, as Dr. Carson states, “It is impossible to gain a deep grasp of what the cross achieves without plunging into a deep grasp of what sin is.” That is why we believe children—even young children—need a biblically serious and sober view of sin. Hence this CDG distinction:

We believe that in order to fully embrace the Gospel, children must first come to an appropriate understanding of the true nature of sin and the offense that it is to God’s holiness. Sin is no trifling matter. It is not simply a matter of “mistakes” or disobeying rules. Its consequences go far beyond a broken friendship with God. Our curriculum takes our total depravity very seriously, as well as God’s righteous wrath and condemnation. Therefore, lessons dealing with sin and God’s judgment use texts, illustrations, and explanations that convey these truths in an appropriate tone and manner. Children are challenged to think deep and hard about their standing before God and Jesus’ call to repent and believe.

 

24 Things Your Children Should Know About God’s Providence

Lately, I find myself reflecting more and more on these words from the hymn, This Is My Father’s World:

This is my Father’s world. O let me ne’er forget
That though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the ruler yet.

 These few simple words carry an inexhaustible and unshakeable source of hope. They remind us of an often forgotten rock-solid reality—God is the ruler yet!

 As our children and grandchildren increasingly face a hostile world, one that seems “oft so strong,” what will come to mind? What thoughts will lead and guide them? Will they reflect upon the glorious truth that God is, indeed, the ruler yet?  And furthermore, will they know and understand the nature and extent of that rule so that they will have an unswerving confidence in Him no matter what the circumstances in their lives and world?

That is why it is so crucial for our children to learn of God’s providence—His active rule over all things. There are at least 24 things we should teach them about God’s providence:

  1. God is actively involved in the universe and sustains it.
  2. God has the right, wisdom, and power to govern the world.
  3. God has a plan for all creation.
  4. Everything God does has a purpose.
  5. All God’s purposes are right.
  6. God will accomplish His purposes.
  7. God is never surprised.
  8. God’s providential works are often hidden from man.
  9. God’s purposes are far-reaching.
  10. God acts for His glory—to show His greatness and worth.
  11. God controls nature; all of nature is subject to His will.
  12. God is sovereign over human life.
  13. God controls rulers and nations—they are subject to His will.
  14. God’s Word—the Bible—accomplishes His purposes.
  15. God is sovereign over the heart of man.
  16. God planned Jesus’ death to solve man’s sin problem.
  17. God is at work in the world saving lost sinners.
  18. God works through the evangelistic works of His people as they proclaim the Gospel.
  19. God is sovereign over Satan and evil.
  20. God’s providence extends over pain and suffering.
  21. God rules over disasters and calamities.
  22. God rules over man’s way and all circumstances.
  23. God’s plans fit together perfectly, and His timing is perfect.
  24. God causes all things to work together for good for His children.

Each one of these concepts is presented and explored in the curriculum titled, My Purpose Will Stand: A Study for Children on the Providence of God (grade range: 5th-6th, 40 lessons). Click here for the lesson scope and sequence for the curriculum. Or, especially for families, consider the book, God’s Providence, which is a devotional tool adapted from the curriculum.

5 Reasons We Need to Encourage Active Learning

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Imagine a group of third graders in their Sunday school classroom. All are happily engaged—busy hands, feet, and voices—participating in a Bible lesson. This is active learning on display, right?…Maybe, but maybe not. It depends on your definition of “active learning.” Here is a definition from Sally Michael that I think gets to the heart of what we at CDG mean by active learning:

Active learning involves children’s minds interacting with the subject matter; they are thinking—discovering, imagining, questioning, organizing, analyzing, evaluating, drawing conclusions, and applying the material.

Yes, this may at times involve active hands, feet, and voices, but the emphasis is on the mind. Why do our children need this type of active learning? I believe there are at least five reasons.

 1. The text of the Bible requires it. (2 Timothy 2:15)

The Bible communicates its message through…

  • The simple and complex
  • The concrete and the abstract
  • The straight-forward and the paradox
  • Historical narrative and symbolic poetry, metaphors, allegories, etc.

John Piper: “Education is cultivating the life of the mind so that it knows how to grow in true understanding. That impulse was unleashed by God’s inspiring a Book with complex demanding paragraphs in it.” (from “Why God Inspired Hard Texts,” ©Desiring God Foundation, desiringGod.org)

 2. Christian discipleship requires it. (2 Timothy 2:7; 3:14-15)

Albert Mohler: “Christian faithfulness requires the development of the believer’s intellectual capacities in order that we may understand the Christian faith, develop habits of Christian thought, form intuitions that are based upon biblical truth, and live in faithfulness to all that Christ teaches. This is no easy task, to be sure. Just as Christian discipleship requires growth and development, intellectual faithfulness requires a lifetime of devoted study, consecrated thinking, and analytical reflection.” (from “The Glory of God in the Life of the Mind,” albertmohler.com)

3. Active learning is a key motivator and guide for the proper application of biblical truth—true faith and heart transformation.

Learning most powerfully transfers and transforms when the material taught has meaning to the student’s life and experience. (from “Creative Bible Teaching,” copyright©1998, page 115)

Here’s a very simple example: Suppose a lesson includes reading the following:

 Exodus 20:15—“You shall not steal.”

This is simple and straight-forward. It is concrete. A young child can hear this and recite it back to you. But the mind will become more actively engaged and more interested in the concept when it is related to a real-life scenario such as:

What if someone was trying to sneak candy from a store without paying for it?

Now young ears perk up—candy! A child begins to think, “I know about candy. I like candy. There is a lot of yummy candy at the store. But Mom has to pay for the candy before I can have it. Sneaking candy without paying is wrong. But why?”

The mind has now become active. The child is pondering and analyzing. The child is motivated to hear more. Now the teacher has a means of connecting God’s truth to a child’s life. “You shall not steal” takes on a whole new meaning, as it can be applied to numerous situations and circumstances in life. When a child discovers this for himself, the “light goes on” in his head.

The child is excited by what he has learned and will be more motivated to apply it to his own life.

4. Active learning gives our children a strong defense of the Christian faith.
(1 Peter 3:15)

Nancy Pearsey: “As Christian parents, pastors, teachers, and youth group leaders, we constantly see young people pulled down by the undertow of powerful cultural trends. If all we give them is a “heart” religion, it will not be strong enough to counter the lure of attractive but dangerous ideas. Young believers also need a “brain” religion—training in worldview and apologetics—to equip them to analyze and critique the competing worldviews they will encounter when they leave home.
(from “Total Truth,” www.summit.org)

 5. You cannot love, trust, or worship that which you do not know.
(Mark 12:30; Romans 12:2)

John Piper: “There is an odd notion that, if we use our minds to grow in our knowledge of God, mystery will diminish and with it a sense of wonder and reverence. I call this notion odd for two reasons. One is that, no matter how many millions of ages I use my mind to know more and more of God’s majesty, his glories will never be in danger of being exhausted. What is not yet known of God by finite creatures will always be limitless. You honor this truth more by shameless growth in the knowledge of God.

“And the second reason I find the notion odd that thinking about God and knowing more and more of God jeopardizes our worship of God, is that without knowing him we can’t worship in a way that honors him. God is not honored when people get excited about how little they know of him.” (from “The Life of the Mind and the Love of God,” www.desiringGod.org)

(Image courtesy of digitalart at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.)

A Banner to Fly Over Your Parenting and Children’s Ministry

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What if we were to take this statement and make it a type of banner to fly over our parenting and children’s and youth ministries in the coming years?

Our aim is not to take a child’s low views of self and replace them with high views of self. Rather our aim is to take a child’s low views of God and replace them with high views of God. Our aim is not to take a child with little sense of worth and fill him with a great sense of worth. Rather our aim is to take a child who by nature makes himself the center of the universe and show him that he was made to put God at the center of the universe and get joy not from seeing his own tiny worth, but from knowing Christ who is of infinite worth.

(“Predestined for Adoption to the Praise of His Glory,” by John Piper, ©Desiring God Foundation, desiringGod.org)

Think of how countercultural and even counterintuitive this is…and yet it is so radically biblical and life-giving for our children! In many ways, our resources have been developed underneath this sweeping banner. For example, our first two distinctions are:

  • A Big Vision of God

Our curricula aims to acquaint children with the incomparable majesty of the triune God by digging deep into His divine character as revealed throughout Scripture. We believe that children should be taught the beauty and grandeur of His manifold perfections. In completing our scope and sequence, children will have learned and explored, with increasing depth, more than 20 distinct attributes of God.

  • The Centrality of God in All Things

Every lesson in every curriculum aims to magnify the triune God above all—His name, fame, honor, and glory. We believe children will find their greatest joy when they esteem God most. Therefore, the lessons use language, illustrations, and applications that point children toward God-adoration. Furthermore, the curricula challenge children to see that every aspect of life is to fall under centrality of God and His sovereign rule.

Every resource we develop seeks to do these things—from nursery and beyond. Two resources in particular are designed to give children a “high view” of God by carefully focusing on His divine attributes and character.

The ABCs of God: A Study for Children on the Greatness and Worth of God (1st – 3rd Grade, 40 lessons)
The ABCs of God was written to present children with the beauty and awesome grandeur of the incomparable greatness and worth of God. Toward this end, this curriculum uses the framework of the alphabet to teach children key attributes of God and other words that define His character. These are deep doctrinal truths that answer the most important questions for each of us, namely, “Who is God? What is God like? How should I respond to God?”

(Note: The revised version of The ABCs of God will be available Summer 2016. Watch the blog for further updates.)

How Majestic Is Your Name: A Study for Children on the Names and Character of God (5th – 6th Grade, 40 lessons)
The names of God in the Bible are a reflection of His character, which is so glorious that He cannot be described by a single name. His character is communicated in hundreds of names progressively revealed in the Bible. But the focus of How Majestic Is Your Name is not the many names, titles and references to God. This are merely the structure to show the greatness of our God. Each lesson presents glorious truths about God and encourages students to see and rejoice in His goodness and greatness.

Is your church already using one or both of these curricula? Have you and your children been encouraged as you have seen a great and marvelous view of God and the surpassing worth of Christ? We would be delighted if you would share an encouraging testimony with us and others.

(Image courtesy of photoexplorer at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.)

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