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New Easter Resource for Families

Mission Accomplished book

Just released—Mission Accomplished: A Two-Week Family Easter Devotional by Scott James. Here is Sally Michael’s endorsement:

Scott James has provided families with an easy-to-use, yet spiritually enriching Easter devotional. Starting with the events leading to the cross through the ascension of Jesus, families are encouraged to read the corresponding Scripture, discuss the passage, and make application through questioning and activities. In addition, many selections include a rich hymn to use in family worship. This little book is a great tool for focusing the hearts of your family members on the reality of Jesus s redemptive mission.

Here is a more detailed description from the publisher:

Celebrate the Greatest Rescue Mission in History Nearly 2,000 years ago, a simple wooden cross and an empty tomb served as the setting for the greatest rescue mission in history the good news of a loving Father going to great lengths to save his broken children. Every year at Easter, with a joyful shout of Christ is risen! we declare again the climax of this great story. Although Easter Sunday only happens once a year, the truths behind it are big enough to shape our lives every single day. Starting on Palm Sunday, your family will spend two weeks (fourteen devotions) walking in time with Jesus as he finished the work his Father had given him. Extending your devotional time into the week beyond Easter Sunday will encourage your family to follow the risen Jesus as he calls his disciples on a Spirit-filled mission to spread the good news to all nations. Your family will learn that God calls every Christ follower to that very same task, promising that his power and presence will help us as we go. Each devotion takes just ten-minutes and is suitable for all ages of children. Included are suggestions for hymns to sing and family activities that give you a chance to remember and apply the truth that Christ is risen indeed! 

It is easier to speak smilingly about bunnies and baskets on Easter than it is to explore Christ s cruel death and miraculous resurrection. But for every parent who believes that Christ is risen indeed, there is Mission Accomplished. 

Fourteen theologically rich yet kid-friendly devotions connect well-known Easter stories to the overall biblical message of redemption. 

Starts with the Passion Week and extends into the week beyond Easter Sunday, walking kids through the immediate aftermath of the resurrection and then unpacking the implications of Jesus death and resurrection for our own lives. 

Great for busy parents and families, each day’s core devotion can be completed in just ten minutes.

Family activities are included to give parents options for helping kids of all ages to understand and apply Easter truths and can be completed in an additional ten minutes. 

Full text of classic hymns for your family to sing in worship.

Generations Worshiping Together

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Looking back through the past two decades, I am so thankful to God for a church family and pastoral leadership that encouraged families to worship together in the corporate church setting. One of the things that helped both old and young to be “comfortable” together was wise worship leaders who had the foresight to point us beyond musical styles. Consider these thoughtful words from Bob Kauflin in his article, “The Legacy of Asaph—Learning to Sing in the Same Room”:

How many of our thoughts about music and worship revolve around what we like, what we prefer, what interests us, and what we find appealing? And how often is that attitude passed on to the next generation, who then focus on what appeals to them?

I suspect this may be one of the reasons churches develop separate meetings for different musical tastes. In the short run it may bring more people to your church. But in the long run it keeps us stuck in the mindset that musical styles have more power to divide us than the gospel has to unite us.

How do we pass on biblical values of worship to coming generations when we can’t even sing in the same room with them?

We have to look beyond our own generation, both past and future, if we’re to clearly understand what God wants us to do now. Otherwise we can be guilty of a chronological narcissism that always views our generation as the most important one. As Winston Churchill insightfully wrote, “The further back you can look, the further forward you can see.”

Enough thinking about ourselves and what kind of music we like to use to worship God. God wants us to have an eye on our children, our grandchildren, and even our great grandchildren.

We have a message to proclaim: “God is good, for His steadfast love endures forever.”

Let’s not allow shortsightedness or selfish preferences keep us from proclaiming it together.

(www.worshipmatters.com)

Our family, which now includes grandchildren, is still worshipping together. My children have a great heritage of both old hymns and new spiritual songs. Whether with an organ or piano, guitars and drums, the excellencies of God are being proclaimed and celebrated. I hope and pray that this legacy will continue for my grandchildren and their children.

(Image courtesy of photostock at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.)

The Next Generation of Worship Leaders and Musicians

ID-10031622Several years ago, Children Desiring God had the wonderful privilege of doing a conference in the Dominican Republic. One lasting impression of that conference was the conference worship team, which was mainly made up of children and youth. They were extremely gifted and dedicated. After the conference, we had the opportunity to sit down and talk to the pastor who led this student worship team. This was not a worship team brought together just for our conference. Rather, this pastor had a vision for the next generation of worship leaders and musicians and, years earlier, he had begun to intentionally train these students. He had a systematic plan in place. Does your church have such a vision and plan? Read these words from Bob Kauflin:

Where do the next generation of musicians in the church come from? One option is to hope and pray that young musicians will get trained in the world, get saved, and use their gifts in the church. That certainly happens frequently enough.

A more faithful option is to figure out what we can do to influence, inspire, and train the young people in our church to develop and use their gifts to serve the church for the glory of God. It doesn’t matter whether we’re in a church of 50, 500, or 5000, we can begin to think about how we can pass on what we’ve learned.

 (“Preparing the Next Generation of Musicians”, www.worshipmatters.com.)

(Image courtesy of zirconicusso at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.)

Will Our Children Know and Treasure the Great Hymns of Faith?

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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? (more…)

Are They Really Worshipping God?

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As much as I delight in watching a roomful of 6- and 7-years olds jubilantly singing songs of praise to God in the classroom, I am reminded of these important words from worship leader and song writer Bob Kauflin:

“Worshipping God” means different things at different ages. Younger children, who may not know God yet, may still participate enthusiastically in various external forms of worshipping God. However, we want their worship to be from the heart, and not simply a matter of conforming. They need a clear knowledge of who God is and what He has done. That includes His nature, His attributes, and His works, especially our redemption through Christ. As the Holy Spirit enables them, they will become increasingly aware of their sinfulness before God, accept His gracious gift of forgiveness through the Gospel, and be included among those who will forever be growing in their love for and worship of God. In the mean time, our job is to help them be “dazzled” by the glory of Jesus Christ (quoting Paul Tripp). For one thing that means using more songs that tell us about God than how we feel about Him.

(more…)

“Family Worship” or a Worshipping Family?

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These words by Jason Helopoulos are a good reminder not just to homeschool families, but to all Christian families.

I love my family. I love being a husband. We celebrate sixteen years of marriage this week and I can’t imagine living life with anyone else. I love being a father. I have two kids that delight my soul. I can’t wait to see them in the morning before I head off to the church and I am always anxious to see them in the evening when I return. There are few things I enjoy more in this life than being a father. I love my family. However, having said that, I want to be on guard against loving them inordinately.

(more…)

A Gospel Song for Children

One of the things I miss most about not teaching this year is the wonderful worship time that I experienced in first grade Sunday school. I especially miss singing Mighty, Mighty Savior with the children. It is an easy song for children to learn, and it presents clear Gospel truth. You can see the words and listen to it here: (more…)

3 Resources for Singing Scripture

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This week, we have been discussing the importance and value of singing the Gospel with children on our Lullaby Theology blog series. The other day I was playing with a friend who is six, and several times she broke out into song. It was not the latest animated movie theme song she was belting though, it was her memory verse set to song and her favorite hymn. This was an encouragement and challenge to me to incorporate more content-rich music into my life.

For some of you reading this, music comes naturally, and it is easy for you to find hymns and worship songs to teach children, but some of you may be like me—I need help. Here are three Children Desiring God resources that will help you and your children start singing the Gospel.

Let the Little Children Sing

Scripture SonglistThis Scripture Songbook helps children hide God’s Word in their hearts through song. Let the Little Children Sing contains 90 Scripture songs for use in Sunday School classes, children’s choirs and at home. Lyrics, sheet music and a piano accompaniment CD are included. Click here for song samples and to order the book.

Fighter Verses Songs 

FESE5-front-webFighter Verses Songs CDs coordinate with our Bible memory program. The song lyrics are word-for-word Bible passages, and the musical styles vary between folk, jazz, pop, doo-wop, choral and more. Sets 1 and 3 feature verses about fixing our hearts on the character and worth of God, battling the desires of our flesh and rejoicing in the work of Christ in the Gospel. The Extended Set 5 goes through the entire Sermon on the Mount. CDs can be ordered here or the songs can be downloaded from iTunes.

Leading Children in God-Centered Worship

Pam Grano, who has been leading worship in Sunday school classes for years, led a seminar on worship at our national conference last year. She reviews what Scripture says about worshipping “in spirit and in truth,” involving both a child’s heart and head in worship, structuring and planning age-appropriate worship times, using instruments and movement, selecting songs and more. You can listen to the audio and download the notes here.

 

 

A Children’s Carol

Jesus, Joy of the Highest Heaven (A Children’s Carol)

Jesus, joy of the highest heaven,
Born as a little baby
Under a wondrous star.
Like us, crying he takes His first breath
Held by His mother, helpless
Close to her beating heart.
Jesus, laid in a lowly manger,
Facing a world of dangers,
Come to turn me a stranger
Into a child of God.

Jesus, King of the highest heaven
Learning to take His first steps,
That He might bring us life.
Like us, knowing our smiles and sorrows,
He showed the way to follow,
A way that is true and right.
Jesus, take away every darkness,
Steady my simple footsteps
That I might in your goodness
Live as a child of God.

 

Keith Getty and Kristyn Getty
Copyright © 2011 Gettymusic; admin by Music Services.

 

Traditions and Our Children

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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