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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.

In my prayer at the Truth78 inauguration event this past April, I attempted to pray a “big and bold” prayer for the next generation. We are passing that prayer on to you in the hope that it will encourage you in your prayer for the children the Lord has brought into your life as well as children in your community and in communities around the world.

Lord, I pray that the truth that has been entrusted to us and the lessons we have learned will not be hidden from the next generation. Would you grant us every grace we need to make known to our children, even the children yet unborn, the path that leads to life?

Make us a generation of parents and educators and pastors and resource developers and publishers and writers and translators and supporters and partners who will teach them your ways and how to walk according to the truth, so that they might set their hope and confidence in you and not forget your works.

Give to our children, and to their children, souls that are anchored in heaven. Sustain in them a deep and substantial assurance of things hoped for like Abel and Enoch and Noah and Abraham and Isaac and Moses and Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephthah and David and Samuel and the prophets and all the saints who, through faith, obtained the promise.

Turn the hearts of the next generations away from the deceptive promises of sin toward the all-satisfying promises of God, who swears by himself, that they might be strong and confident and secure and ready and bold to lay down their lives for the sake of the ministry and the glory of God.

May our children live as sojourners who desire you, and all that you have promised, more than they desire money, more than sex, more than power, more than popularity, more than anything else. Give them faith to be strong and faith to be weak. Faith to be married and faith to be single. Faith to have children and faith to be childless. Faith to be wealthy and faith to be poor. Give them faith—that can stand even when crisis comes and when tragedy strikes.

May they never lose sight of the reality that You are better than what life can give them now, and better than what death can take from them later. Give them faith to suffer willingly as they await something better than what this earth can offer. May their hunger for the superior worth of our glorious God be so great that bridges are burned to a hundred sins and a hundred fears.

May they yield to you as a father who disciplines those He loves and who comes to us painfully and mysteriously through the hostility of sinful adversaries and the natural disasters of a fallen world. Make them submissive to your sovereign, fatherly care and may they not grow weary or lose heart.

Help them lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles so that they can run the race that you have set before them, holding fast to hope—and holding firm their confidence until that day when your Kingdom comes in all its glory, and truth once and for all triumphs over sin and death and mourning and tears and all that hinders the everlasting joy that is ours through Jesus Christ.

Photo by ajay bhargav GUDURU from Pexels

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.

As great as the vision is of telling children the glorious deeds of the Lord, there is a counterbalance in this verse of what must not be done: We must not hide these things from our children. Hide means to conceal. It means to cover. It also means to deny. You can hide something by simply denying its truthfulness. Every child, every adult for that matter, but particularly every child, needs to have the truth of the Scriptures brought to bear on his or her life because there is a false and natural narrative that children embrace from the very beginning of their lives. If nothing is done to alter that, the false narrative natural to children will serve to counteract and to deny the true gospel that can save them.

The truth is a necessity because of the denial that naturally exists within the heart of every child. Following are four of the false beliefs children are born with:

It’s All About Me

Every child is born into the world believing they are the center of the universe. No one had to teach a child how to say the word mine.

I remember one time when I was getting on a bus in Ukraine. I saw a child getting off the bus and his mother put her hand out to stop him, and he slapped it and said something in Ukrainian. I don’t know Ukranian, but I knew exactly what that child was saying. That child was saying in Ukranian, “I do it!”

I Am the Best

The narrative born in the heart of every child is that “you are the best; you are better than others.”

My wife teaches our kindergarten Sunday school class and she comes back on Sundays with the most unbelievable stories, and the most beautiful illustrations of the depravity of man. Part of her lesson involves teaching the Ten Commandments. Her main aim is to help children understand that they’re sinners. This is sometimes a very challenging task. In one lesson she asked some children if they were sinners. One boy raised his hand and said, “No, I’m not. But my sister sure is!”

No one had to teach him to say that. His mom didn’t get in the car and say, “When you’re asked today, tell them your sister’s a sinner, but you’re not.” That is baked into the fabric of our humanity—tragically so.

I Deserve to Be Happy

I remember my children riding in the back of our van telling me, “You don’t make me very happy, Dad.” That created a great teaching moment for me to remind them that my ultimate aim in life is not their happiness.

Nothing Should Stand in My Way

This is prevailing in our culture: whatever you believe that you are, you must be. And don’t let anybody tell you that you’re not who you believe you are on the inside. This false narrative is doing incredible damage as little children are trying to determine their identity and trying to find it inside themselves. How tragic is it, that we would ask a child to define for themselves who they really are?

We’re all born wanting what we want. That’s the problem. Our “want” is broken; so broken we’re willing to do just about anything to get what we want.

One Sunday I asked my wife, “How was Sunday School today?” She said, “It was a little awkward.” I said, “Why?” “We have a contest going to help the kids memorize the Ten Commandments,” she said. “When they do, I give them an award.” I said, “OK, what happened?” She said, “Well, we had a little girl lie about memorizing the Ten Commandments.” That’s challenging.

This brokenness is bound into the heart of our humanity. Whenever I begin to talk about this, I hear a particular song in the back of my head—it’s crazy. Part of the reason I hear this is because when I was growing up, I used to watch Captain Kangaroo. And there was a public service announcement that was often broadcast in the mornings and there was this song. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZgdFMIk38Ms) I want you to hear the narrative of this song.

The most important person in the whole wide world is you and you hardly even know you.
The most important person in the whole wide world is you come on, we’ll show you.
Let’s find out more about the things you feel and do cause you’re the most important person in the world to you.

They put that in a song and sent it to millions of children in the ‘70s. That’s why I’m so messed up! This is the sort of narrative the gospel comes into.

Why do we need to tell children the glorious deeds of the Lord, and of His might, and of His wonders? Because hiding these truths from them is not just the difference between information and lack of information, or truth and ignorance. It’s the difference between a path that produces life and a path that produces death.

The gospel narrative says you’re not the center of the world, God is the center. It says not that you’re the best, but that God is the one Who is glorious and He is what is truly best. It says true happiness is not found in yourself, but rather, eternal happiness—and happiness even now—is found in your relationship with God. The gospel tells the truth: That God is a gracious, loving creator who loves you, redeems you, and rescues you—from what? From yourself.

We must not hide these truths from our children. We must help them to know that they are not “the most important people in the whole wide world.” But instead, the most important person in the whole wide world is God. Truth78 exists to say, “Come, let me show you. The most important person in the whole universe is God. So gather round. Let me show you.”


This article was adapted from the message Mark Vroegop gave at the Truth78 launch event in April, 2018. You can watch the full event here.

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.

I’ve sung this many times around a circle of unruly toddlers and over crying babies in the nursery. When David was born, I started singing it to him at home as he sat in his chair and watched me cook, wash dishes, and fold laundry. Singing truth is a great way to redeem the “mundane” time, putting into practice the commands of Deuteronomy 6:4-7 with children while getting ordinary things done. Rhythm and simple melody make truths easier to learn and brings cheerfulness to otherwise boring chores (really boring chores if you’re only three months old and can only sit and watch).

However, as I worked and sang through my small repertoire of baby praise songs, I began to notice what a small picture of God I was painting for David. There is no doubt that God is love—and that it is important for the smallest and most vulnerable people to know that—but God has many other attributes as well. Having spent six years teaching The ABCs of God  to first grade students at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, I could think of at least 35 other words about God…Almighty, Creator, Faithful, Holy, Jealous, Righteous, Merciful, Wrathful, Patient, Sovereign, Wise, Incomprehensible (my students’ favorite word), to name only a few. These are also truths David needs to know.

I started to list all of the one-syllable, simple adjectives describing God that I could substitute for “love” in the song: good, wise, just, kind, strong, big, near, great, king, etc. I began to add more verses to Praise Him, Praise Him All Ye Little Children. Even though the song grew much longer, the view of God became much bigger and grander. And that is just what a little child needs. A God who is:

  • Good—who always is good, does good, and gives good things like fields full of dandelions, little sisters, puppy kisses, and even medicine and flu vaccines.
  • Wise—to send rain to water the grass at the park, to make rules about obeying mommy and daddy, to make it dark for nighttime.
  • Strong—who never grows tired or crabby, who cannot be stopped from doing His purposes, who can carry His children through all of life, even when earthly daddies can’t.
  • Big—bigger than anything he is afraid of (the dark, owls, mommy leaving, etc.) and bigger than himself, a God who is the boss of everyone, including toddlers.
  • Near—who is everywhere all the time, even in the middle of the night when parents are sleeping.
  • Just—who is the standard of right and wrong, who judges and disciplines rightly.
  • Great—a hero who never fails, never grows boring, and really deserves to be worshiped and followed.

We love to sing about the love of God to children because we so want them to experience His love, to know His tender care, and to see His smile of favor. God is love, and that’s a good place to start. But we must not stop there because the Bible doesn’t stop there. What toddlers don’t need is another warm and fuzzy “god bear” to cuddle for comfort. They need God. When fears, confusion, and rebellion come as threatening storms into his world, David needs the Lion-Lamb God of the Bible, who not only quiets His children with His love, but who vanquishes enemies with a mighty hand. If we truly want our children to truly praise God for His love, we must place His love within the whole counsel of God, including big words that toddlers may not fully understand for a while.

It will be a long time before David can read all the words the Bible uses to describe God, but until then, he can learn to sing them and say them. The words he learns now will prepare his mind and his heart for deeper teaching when he is older. But even now, his little ears are listening, and his young mind can understand more than we imagine. So we sing, and pray that he will come to love and trust the God that all those important words are about.


This article was written by Sarah House who is a Sunday School teacher and mother of four small children. It was first published in 2014.

What Does Godly Ambition Look Like?

What is greatness in God’s sight? Too often I wish for my children, (and even for myself), greatness that is praised in the world’s eyes: high grades, academic accolades, advanced degrees, leadership positions, world-shaping achievements, visible fame, etc. This has been a temptation in every age.

George Whitfield had far-ranging, ministry-oriented, ambitions for his son at his birth. But when the baby died at only four months old, Whitfield was jarred into reconsidering his hopes. As David Campbell explains in his article “Ambitious for Your Children?”, Whitfield’s application of a particular promise made by God to Zechariah about his son, John, was misapplied.

Campbell’s helpful lesson from history is a powerful corrective for parents in every age, who are tempted to wish for their children a greatness defined by the world’s standards. John’s greatness was anything but worldly. He says,

In John’s case, the promised greatness may be traced in his personal godliness, his faithfulness to his God-given task, his courage in doing the hard thing (reproving Herod for his sin), and his humility before Christ. Not the kind of things, it has to be said, that enter into the world’s estimation of greatness. But very precious in the eyes of God.

How should we frame this biblical prayer that our children be “great in the sight of the Lord”? Campbell exhorts believing parents saying,

Our children, it is true to say, may have no great part to play in the unfolding history of the kingdom of God. No one may write a biography of them after they are gone. They may never serve on the mission-field, never hold office in the church, they may have no outstanding gifts. But if they have a heart for God, serve him faithfully, have the courage to do the right, and are clothed in godly humility, they will be great in the Lord’s sight. And nothing counts for more than that!

Let this, then, be our chief ambition for our children. As we pray for them, let these be the things we ask the Lord for above everything else. Unbelievers may not think very much of our children for having them. God, for his part, will think the world of them.

Enjoy the surprising account of Whitfield and the greater context of these concluding remarks by reading the entire article here.


Feeling discouraged in your failure to change the world? Here’s encouragement for faithfulness in the ordinary: “To Be a Diaper Changer

For the Indestructible Joy of the Next Generation

As a conclusion to his famous Sermon on the Mount, Jesus told a story that, for generations, has been famous among Sunday school children and, for decades, has captured the desire of our hearts for the next generations:

Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it (Matthew 7:24-27).

We don’t want to raise a generation of fools who grow up hearing, yet neglecting, the words of Jesus. We want our children to be among the wise in their generation. We want them to be equipped for living by faith in the Son of God, walking in His ways, trusting Him in every circumstance, standing firm against the schemes of the devil, forsaking the things of this world and the desires of the flesh, laying up treasures in heaven, holding fast with confidence in His goodness, resting in His sovereignty, running with endurance the race that is set before them, persevering in the full assurance of hope, pressing on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus, standing on the promises of God, and enduring in an unshakable faith when the inevitable storms of life blow and beat against them. The fruit of this unshakable faith is an indestructible joy.

As Jesus’ final hour was approaching he warned his disciples that the storms were coming. “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake” (Matthew 24:9). On the night before He endured the cross, Jesus said, “Truly, truly…you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. You will be sorrowful…” But on the heels of that warning, Jesus quickly assured them that their “sorrow will turn into joy….and no one will take your joy from you” (John 16:20-22). In other words, the fruit of their unshakable faith was an indestructible joy.

For more than 20 years, the pursuit of this indestructible joy for the next generations has been the heartbeat of Children Desiring God (now Truth78). On several occasions during this span, God used many voices to inspire, encourage, and support thousands in this pursuit as men and women from across this country and around the world gathered in Minnesota, and once in Indiana, for our national conferences. The book Indestructible Joy for the Next Generations is an effort to gather a taste of these timeless messages into one place with the prayer that they will continue to inspire, encourage, and support thousands more. As you read the words of these servants, and perhaps listen to their original messages below let them serve as a reminder of this pursuit that has defined our ministry.


Order a copy of Indestructible Joy for the Next Generations or get a free digital download of the book when you subscribe to the Truth78 e-newsletter.

Listen to the full conference messages related to each book chapter:

David Michael
No Greater Joy

Mark Vroegop
Declaring the Whole Counsel of God

John Piper
Why Theology and Doctrine Matter in Children’s Ministry

Bruce A. Ware
Exploring the Fullness of the Whole Counsel of God

Sally Michael
Teaching the Difficult Doctrines of God

Timothy Paul Jones
Equipping the Family to Do Discipleship

Jill Nelson
Teaching the Whole Counsel of God
Presenting the Gospel to Children

C.J. Mahaney
Sovereign Grace and the Salvation of Children

Russell Moore
No Longer Tossed To and Fro

Albert Mohler, Jr.
Holding Fast to the Whole Counsel of God Under Pressure to Conform

Wayne Grudem (messages referenced in Afterward)
Teaching the Richness of the Entire Gospel, Part 1
Teaching the Richness of the Entire Gospel, Part 2

True Faith Takes Mind, Heart, and Will

As a parent and teacher I find these words from Jesus especially sobering,

This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me… (Matthew 15:8-9)

And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it. (Matthew 7:26-27)

We can teach our children and students a lot of biblical information–and so we should. We should acquaint them with as much Scripture as possible; it is the only means of making them wise for salvation in Christ and living in a way that is pleasing to Him (2 Timothy 3:16-17). We want their minds to know, understand, and be able to rightly interpret the Bible. However, as Jesus’ words remind us, it is not enough to simply receive knowledge about God. The child who has memorized the most Bible verses in your class, or is always first to find a passage in the Bible, may have a heart far from the Lord. Genuine faith in Christ also involves the heart and will. To leave these unaddressed in our teaching is dangerous–eternally dangerous.

That is why we at Truth78 create resources that aim to instruct the mind, engage the heart, and influence the will. Instruct, engage, and influence–words chosen carefully to define our responsibility while humbling admitting our complete dependence on God to renew the mind, transform the heart, and empower the will of the children and students in our care.

Watch this informative and inspiring 12 minute video in which David and Sally Michael explain the role of the mind, heart, and will in the faith of the next generations. They also give practical examples from their teaching experience of how you can encourage these three aspects of faith in the lives of children.

A Vision for Encouraging Faith in Christ in the Next Generation 

 

12 Reasons to Choose Truth78 Curriculum

After an unusually long, cold winter, it’s finally summer! But churches are already thinking ahead to the fall. What will they teach the students next year; the current curriculum or something new? There are many varied reasons for choosing one curricula over another. Here are 12 reasons why you should consider teaching the Truth78 curricula:

  1. Vision-Oriented—our philosophy, methodology, scope and sequence, and lesson content all are aiming toward one main goal: That our students may know, honor, and treasure God, setting their hope in Christ alone, so that they will live as faithful disciples for the glory of God. (Download our Truth78 Viewbook for a more thorough introduction to our vision, mission, and curricula.)
  2. Whole Gospel-focused—Our hope and prayer is that every student will come to salvation in Christ and live as faithful disciples. Therefore, we believe that great care must be exercised in communicating the Gospel. Our students need the whole, rich foundation of the Gospel taught to them. A foundation which honors and exalts Christ by inspiring love, trust, obedience, and worship of Him as the essence, means, and goal of the Gospel is explained precept-by-percept. While each curriculum, as a whole, presents the Gospel message, not every lesson presents an “explicit” Gospel summary.
  3. Written by teachers, within the classroom setting—Sometimes a lesson looks great on paper but teaching it in a classroom with a live audience of students can be a very different experience. Our lessons have been developed and taught in the classroom and have been reviewed by other teachers and small group leaders before being published.
  4. Encourages both teacher and students to study the Bible—We place a very high premium on biblical literacy. Therefore, as soon as children are able to read, we believe they are ready to interact with the text of Scripture, using their own Bibles. Our curriculum helps teachers guide students in developing essential Bible study skills.
  5. Nourishes teachers—It’s hard to teach something that hasn’t enriched you first. Though our lessons are written for children and youth at age-appropriate levels, they are meaty with theological truths. This isn’t because we are especially clever, but because the lessons focus on revealing and explaining the Word of God. The Word provides teachers with spiritual food as they meditate on the lesson throughout the week while preparing to teach.
  6. Trains children and youth to thinkIt’s one thing to give children information to recall. It’s entirely different to engage their minds in critical thinking – the kind of thinking that prepares them to truly understand, embrace, live out, and defend the Christian faith for a life-time. Our interactive teaching style (asking questions, posing scenarios, etc.) helps train students to think critically and biblically.
  7. Aims for heart transformation—The mind is a conduit to the heart from which springs genuine faith and love for Christ. Too often children’s and youth curricula fail to engage the heart in any deep and meaningful way. Our curriculum has been designed to spend a significant time engaging students’ hearts in responding to God’s truth. While it is only by God’s sovereign grace that true heart transformation happens, we give teachers a variety of suggestions for leading discussions that prod students to sincerely and personally respond to God’s truth.
  8. Serious joy—We would never use the word “fun” as one of our curriculum distinctives. However, we offer something better than fun: Serious joy. We study the most important truths in the universe: The truth of God in the Word of God. God is holy and so is His Word. That’s why there is a certain demeanor and serious tone to our lesson content and format. But that doesn’t mean that the lessons are dry and boring. Our God is NOT boring. Therefore, when appropriate, there is plenty of room for creativity, laughter, excitement, colorful imagery, loudness, etc. But it’s all meant to point toward the majestic and awesome glory of God, where we find true, lasting, all-satisfying joy.
  9. Great customer service—Switching to a new curriculum can be a daunting task. There are a variety of issues to address and “one size fits all” in children’s and youth ministry. Truth78 is blessed to have an experienced team of people who have decades of experience in classroom ministry with our curriculum. They love serving people and finding answers to your questions and solutions to your concerns.
  10. Keeping the main thing the main thing—Unfortunately, for an increasing number of children, the Sunday school hour is one of the few times during their week that they receive formal Bible instruction. We want to use that limited time in order to focus on the main thing: Making them wise for salvation in Christ by acquainting them with the Scriptures. Therefore, our curriculum maximizes spiritual instruction and makes other activities secondary.
  11. Theological balance over the course of the entire scope and sequence—If our students are to be taught the whole counsel of God, they need to see and understand the Bible through a variety of disciplines: Bible survey, biblical theology, systematic theology, moral and ethical teaching, and an explicit Gospel presentation. Our scope and sequence has been carefully designed to introduce these disciplines in balance, not neglecting one for another. All serve in helping children and youth develop a robust faith.
  12. Gives parents “meat” to feed their children—Each lesson is accompanied by a GIFT (Growing In Faith Together) page. Not only do they give parents a summary of the lesson, they also give various ideas for follow-up discussion, helping parents discern their child’s spiritual condition and encourage faith in Christ and loving obedience to His Word.

 

That They May Know, Honor, and Treasure God

Our new vision statement communicates our heartfelt desire for the next generations and begins with three distinct goals: that the next generations know, honor, and treasure God. Why these three? Because we believe each communicates essential, foundational realities necessary for the Christian life.

Know God  

In its totality, knowing God encompasses both an intellectual comprehension and a covenantal relationship. Both are crucial. Consider these words from John Piper in an Ask Pastor John segment, 

If you start at the beginning, the first and great commandment says, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37). So I would think, since that is the first commandment, that is the first challenge in every generation. Does the church and does the world love God with all their heart and all their soul and all their mind and all their strength? …if we don’t know God, we can’t love God.

Our worship to glorify God must be based on what we have seen of God, what we know of God, what he has revealed of Himself. If we are just worshiping a haze, God is not getting a lot of glory from the warm feelings that we are having in our hearts because of the ignorance of not being in our heads, because of the haze over our lives.

So today I think the biggest challenge is: Do people know God? Do people have a knowledge that is trustworthy? Therefore a huge issue is: What is the role of the Bible in the church today and is it trustworthy and are people basing their lives on it…? Are they getting the whole counsel of God so that they can love the whole God?

When we say our desire for the next generations is to know God, we want them to come to genuinely know the truth of the triune God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—by becoming acquainted with His divine character, glorious deeds, redemptive work, and steadfast promises as revealed in His inerrant Word, the Bible. Our prayer is that, by God’s sovereign grace, this knowledge will bring them into a covenantal relationship with God.

Honor God

Honor is a word that has become almost obsolete in contemporary culture. So few things are honored and so few things are worthy of honor. Tragically the church has not been immune to this trend. The late Jerry Bridges gives us a wonderful reminder we need to heed,

It is impossible to be devoted to God if one’s heart is not filled with the fear of God. It is the profound sense of veneration and honor, reverence and awe that draws forth from our hearts the worship and adoration that characterizes true devotion to God.

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 (The Practice of Godliness—Godliness Has Value for All Things, 21).

When we state our desire for the next generations to honor God, we want them to honor and revere God in a way befitting His incomparable greatness and worth.

Treasure God

As the most important command of Scripture points out, love for God is to be ultimate, and it should involve every aspect of our being—every thought, emotion, attitude, word, and action. God is worthy of our greatest affections. One way in which to communicate this type of love, especially to children, is to speak in terms of treasuring God most. As Jesus said, “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21). Therefore, we could define loving God as knowing, feeling, and treating God as your greatest treasure. Treasuring God in this manner is the only thing that will ultimately satisfy the soul. It is within this context that we realize that the command to love God most is not only our greatest duty, but also our greatest delight.

So when we state our desire for the next generations to treasure God, we want them to treat God with undivided love and devotion, experiencing Him as their all-satisfying joy.

At Truth78, our hope and prayer is that the next generations know, honor, and treasure God. But this statement would not be realized if not for the very next words: setting their hope in Christ alone. Our children and students must set their full confidence and hope in Christ. It is only through His perfect life, sacrificial death, and victorious resurrection that Jesus redeems sinners so that we might truly know, honor, and treasure God for all eternity.

 

Harmony between the pulpit and children’s ministry


Thirty-some years ago I was a frustrated Sunday school teacher. Why? Because the majestic scope and depth of the glories of God that was preached so faithfully from the pulpit week after week was being dangerously minimized and skewed in the Sunday school classroom. From the pulpit we heard great truths proclaimed such as,

The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. (Acts 17:24-25)

Yet the main point of a lesson on the Exodus I was to teach the children was, “God needed Moses to help Him deliver the Israelites from Egypt.” The pulpit and the classroom were on two different trajectories. One proclaimed a biblical vision of an almighty, self-sufficient God; and the other, a man-construed weak and needy “God.” I longed to teach the children about the all-satisfying delight of knowing, trusting, and treasuring an  almighty, self-sufficient God!

Watch as John Piper explains the importance of the pulpit and children’s and youth ministry being in harmony with one another and how Truth78 materials served to bridge the gap.

Ordinary Means, Extraordinary Fruit

As a Sunday school teacher, I have always approached the last weeks of the school year with mixed emotions. Was I faithful week to week in teaching God’s Word? Did my students “get it”? Do they give evidence of faith in Jesus? Have I seen any spiritual fruit? What about that child who seemed bored all year? What about the one who was often disrespectful in class? What should I have done differently?… The list of questions goes on and on. At times, it’s easy to lose heart when I don’t see spiritual fruit coming about in the manner I expect. Parents often struggle with these same questions and emotions regarding their children’s spiritual condition.

Here is a word of encouragement from our new book, Indestructible Joy for the Next Generations, for teachers and parents who long for their students and children to be vibrant and fruitful disciples of Jesus:

We do not always fully see the spiritual fruit of our endeavors in this lifetime, but we can be confident in the sovereign grace of God to accomplish His saving work in the lives of His people. When His Word goes out, it never fails to bring about His purposes. That seemingly bored little girl you teach week-by-week in Sunday school class may, by God’s grace, become a great woman of faith who dedicates her life to nurturing her family and sharing the Gospel with other women. That rebellious young boy in your own home may, by God’s grace, become a man of God who faithfully shepherds a small local church. And often it is through “ordinary” means that God brings about extraordinary fruit in the lives of children—means such as teaching children to read the Bible, memorize Scripture, pray, participate in the worship service, and to observe God’s hand in nature.

Consider one man’s testimony,

I remember reading my King James Version Bible, from age 6 or 7 every night. It was a habit I got from my parents, and my grandmother encouraged in me as well. I didn’t understand everything in it. I could follow along and make out some of the words. It was God’s Word and it was fascinating to me. I deeply treasured those words of God from a very early age.

I remember when I was 12, praying one night with my mother to trust Jesus, ask Him into my heart, have Him be my Savior. I made a profession of faith and then was baptized at First Baptist Church in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. I remember coming to Minneapolis at 13 for a Billy Graham Crusade—that would have been 1961—and going forward then as a recommitment of my life. I remember those things but now, looking back earlier in my life, I would not date my conversation to age 12 or 13 because I see evidences of regeneration—genuine saving faith—much, much earlier. I loved to sit at the piano and sing hymns. I loved to read my Bible. When I was out on the playground, riding my bike, or out playing baseball, I would be praying to God quietly during the day. I see evidences way back at a very early stage because of Christian parents who brought me up in a Christian home and brought me to Sunday School, and I’m so thankful for that heritage.

In some ways, this is a very simple, “unspectacular” testimony. A young boy brought to faith through very ordinary means: reading the Bible, encouragement from family, the teaching and preaching of the Word, praying, and singing hymns. Yet, God was pleased to do extraordinary things by His sovereign grace in this young boy’s life.

Who is the man sharing this testimony? Dr. Wayne Grudem: theologian, author, seminary professor, and defender of the Christian faith. He gave this short testimony during his address, “Teaching the Richness of the Entire Gospel,” (part 1, at our 2007 National Conference. His testimony reflects the importance of the calling given in Psalm 78:1-7. Charles Spurgeon wrote the following concerning those verses:

We will look forward to future generations, and endeavor to provide for their godly education. It is the duty of the church of God to maintain, in fullest vigor, every agency intended for the religious education of the young; to them we must look for the church of the future, and as we sow towards them so shall we reap[1].

Teachers and parents, do not grow weary in providing your students and children with the “ordinary” means of a godly education: reading and teaching from the Bible, offering godly encouragement, attending corporate worship, listening to the preached Word, praying, singing hymns, etc. Because it is through these means that God, by His sovereign grace, does extraordinary things. May we diligently “endeavor to provide for their godly education” and pray earnestly that God would bring forth extraordinary fruit in their lives, for His glory and their indestructible joy!

Order your copy of Indestructible Joy for the Next Generations, or download the free e-book, here.

[1] The Treasury of David, vol.III (New York, NY: Funk & Wagnalls, 1886), 433.

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