Archive - December, 2013

Grace, Courage, and Resolve for the New Year

A new year is upon us and—no surprise—our world is in upheaval. As an example, look at the speed at which our society has turned away from a biblical understanding of gender and marriage. No matter how much we as parents and a church community try to “absorb” the societal conflicts on behalf of our children, there is no way to completely shield them from the realities in which we now live. Nor, should merely “shielding” our children be our top priority. Rather, let us strive to equip our children. We must equip them to live in a fallen world with a strong and sure hope and defense: the Gospel of Jesus. How can parents, teachers, and the church work toward this end in the coming year? Here are a few New Year resolutions to consider: (more…)

Fight the Fight of Faith in the New Year

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January 1 is a great time to commit to memorizing Scripture. Our Fighter Verses Bible Memory program is designed to help you memorize one passage of Scripture each week. These verses  focus on the character and worth of our great God, encourage believers to battle against our fleshly desires and remind believers of the hope of the Gospel. Whether you are memorizing with your church, your family or on your own, here are some resources to help you get started:

Visit FighterVerses.com for more free resources and tools for memorization!

 

Christmas That Lasts

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No matter what your Christmas celebration may have involved, and no matter whether it exceeded or fell short of your expectations, here is a powerful reminder from Pastor John MacArthur,

Christmas should be simple, not complex, very simple. Christmas should be stripped of all of its trappings so that all that is left is the simplicity of God becoming man.

That is the only element in the Christmas seasonal celebration that has in it any lasting power to effect life. There is no real strength, no real peace or comfort or hope or love or promise or confidence for the future to be found in Santa Claus. There’s no lasting value in any earthly (more…)

Don’t Let Your Children Pass Over This Verse + Free Activity Page

All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet…
(Matthew 1:22, ESV)

Although these words may not immediately conger up for children the vivid images of the angels, shepherds, star, wise men, manger, and little baby Jesus wrapped in swaddling cloths in the Christmas narrative; none-the-less, these words are important to stress to our children. (more…)

God Moves Kingdoms for the Sake of His People

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Here are some words of great comfort and encouragement from Pastor John Piper:

Have you ever thought what an amazing thing it is that God ordained beforehand that the Messiah be born in Bethlehem (as the prophecy in Micah 5 shows); and that he so ordained things that when the time came, the Messiah’s mother and legal father were living in Nazareth; and that in order to fulfill his word and bring two little people to Bethlehem that first Christmas, God put it in the heart of Caesar Augustus that all the Roman world should be enrolled each in his own town? (more…)

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.

 

The Real Story of Christmas

I have always enjoyed being in the Sunday school classroom during the Christmas season. It is a delight to watch the children joyfully sing familiar carols, make special nativity crafts, and listen with excited anticipation to the Christmas story—a story they know so well but still long to hear again and again. However, I wonder if we sometimes paint a “G” rated—as in glib or glossy—picture of Christmas that doesn’t (more…)

Free Christmas Lesson

12-13 Blog Post 300During the month of December, it is easy to get pulled in a million different directions…school programs, shopping, parties, decorating the tree, traveling, visiting family, wrapping gifts, building snowmen…but it can be difficult to find time to focus on the true reason for Christmas.

Our challenge for your family is to set aside an hour in the next two weeks to learn about the miraculous event of Jesus the Savior being born. In most Christmas stories, the focus is always on the tiny baby, wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. Children relate well to that vision of God as a small, touchable and knowable baby Jesus. But, it is not the end of God’s revelation of His Son. Baby Jesus will grow up into a Man, the perfect Son of God, and His obedience will lead Him to a most painful, undeserved death on the cross.

She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.—Matthew 1:21

To help you and you family focus on the bigger picture of Christmas, Children Desiring God is giving you a free copy of “Jesus the Savior is Born” which is a lesson in our revised version of Jesus, What a Savior. This lesson focuses on three main ideas:

  • God loves His people and desires to save them from their sin.
  • God was faithful to send Jesus as the promised Savior.
  • God reveals His greatness to humble people.

The free lesson can be downloaded as a PDF here: Jesus the Savior is Born. We pray it will be a blessing as you and your family celebrate our Savior this Christmas.

This free lesson includes the Lesson Material, Lesson Visuals, Student Workbook, Optional Activities and Growing in Faith Together pages. You may print out or make copies of this lesson for use in you home, church or school. Enjoy!

 

 

A Genuine Parent and Youth Ministry Partnership

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In his article, “Can Youth Ministers Actually Work with Parents?” (posted at The Gospel Coalition), Pastor John Pond challenges the church with the following:

For years I always told the pastor, parent, or anyone else who asked that of course I am partnering with parents. We never want to be that youth ministry that does not work alongside parents,[since] they are the primary disciple makers. However, a few years ago I realized that when it comes to working out this priority I was just giving lip service. Talking to other youth ministers I realized I was not the only one. How do the youth minister and parent practically work together to see that discipleship is actually happening in our teenagers’ lives, as opposed to working in isolation and only pretending that we are working together?

He then highlights and discusses four elements that must be present for a genuine partnership to exist:

  • Communicate regularly
  • Pray together
  • Spend time with parents
  • Create pro-family calendars

And he concludes with this important reminder:

The youth minister and parent are each other’s best allies when they work together. If we want our students to persevere with faith after high school, having joy in Christ and not in sin, parents and youth ministers have to support and encourage each other. Discipleship starts to go deep in the teenage years, and the whole church must cooperate. What’s at stake? Only the future family of the church.

You can read the whole article “Can Youth Ministers Actually Work with Parents?
here.”

Encouraging Contentment at Christmas Time

This grandma almost “lost it” the other day. I was shopping with my daughter and grandchildren at IKEA. As I walked down the aisles with 2-year-old, David he kept repeating over and over and over again, “Cars and trucks. Cars and trucks…” It was his way of reminding me that he wanted grandma to find him and buy him a new car or truck (preferably both!). You see, it was not enough that he already had about a zillion cars and trucks at home—he wanted more. But grandma didn’t buy him another car or truck, and somehow he survived the day.

Every day is a challenge to teach our children (and ourselves) biblical contentment:

“…for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.”
(Philippians 4:11)

“But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content.” (1 Timothy 6:8)

“Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.'” (Hebrews 13:5)

Christmas time presents even greater challenges for being content with what we have as we are bombarded with catalogs, billboards, commercials, and all manner of slick advertisements that entice us with the message: You need this in order to be happy. Therefore, as we move into this season, it might be a good time to give our children a refresher course on contentment by reminding them of these foundational truths:

    • Our possessions are from God, belong to God, and are under God’s authority.

“I am the LORD, who made all things, who alone stretched out the heavens, who spread out the earth by myself,” (Isaiah 44:24b)

“…Whatever is under the whole heaven is mine.” (Job 41:11b)

“Both riches and honor come from you, and you rule over all.” (1 Chronicles 29:12)

    • God knows all of our needs and graciously provides for our needs.

“…for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” (Matthew 6:8)

“…he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything.” (Acts 17:25)

    • God is good to all and will not withhold any good thing from His children.

“The LORD is good to all, and his mercy is over all that he has made.” (Psalm 145:9)

“If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7:11)

    • Possessions are temporary and cannot truly satisfy us.

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal,” (Matthew 6:19)

“He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves wealth with his income; this also is vanity.” (Ecclesiastes 5:10)

    • The desire for possessions may become a dangerous snare.

“…’Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.'” (Luke 12:15)

“For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.” (1 Timothy 6:10)

    • True contentment comes from knowing, loving, and trusting Jesus.

“You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” (Psalm 16:11)

“Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ…” (Philippians 3:8)

The following are a few practical discussion ideas for applying these truths to the heart:

  • Read 1 Timothy 6:6-8. Did you bring anything into the world? Can you take anything with you when you die? What does verse 8 say that we should be content with? Why is this hard for us? If you lived in a very poor country where many people were starving, would it be easier to be content with having food? Why? How can you have this same attitude without having to be in that situation?
  • Do you often compare what you have with what others have? Why? Do you feel that you need what they have in order to be happy? Why? If and when you feel this way, what are you saying about what you think will make you truly happy? Is this what God tells us will make us happy? Is God your heavenly Father? Do you trust Him to provide for you all that you need in order to be happy? Read Matthew 7:7-11. What kinds of things do you ask God for? Why do you ask for these things? Do you believe that God wants to give you good gifts? Do you complain about the good things that God has already given you? Why is it sometimes hard to be thankful? Is it because God is stingy? Or is it because our hearts are not grateful? How could you focus on thankfulness to God this week?
  • Make a “Thank you” list to God for His many good gifts. What should a list like this remind us of? When feelings of wanting more and more “stuff” start to creep into your heart, do you stop to think about how generous God has already been to you? Do you thank Him for life and breath and everything else? How could stopping and remembering this help you to fight against feeling discontent with what you have?
  • Is God able to satisfy your every need? Therefore, if He withholds something from you, like having your own bedroom or a new iPad, is it because He isn’t able to provide you with those things? Why might God choose to withhold something from you? What better thing might God have for you? Give a concrete example of this.
  • Read Philippians 4:12-13. What is the “secret” of being content? Why does Paul say that it is a secret? Are secrets easy things to find out? No, they are to be “found out” by actively searching for them. Can you be content through your own strength? Why not? Whose strength must you depend on?
  • What is the hardest struggle you have when you think of earthly treasures? What kinds of things “feed” this feeling? What do commercials, movies, books, and store advertisements tell you is worth “laying up”? How can you protect yourself from this in some measure? Do you do this, or do you continue to feed your appetite for earthly treasures?
  • Have you ever received something that you were really happy and excited about? Did you feel as excited about it a week later? A month later? Two years later? Why not? What does this tell you about earthly treasures and the happiness they bring? Will this happen to heavenly treasures? Why not?

(Discussion ideas adapted from the CDG curriculum To Be Like Jesus: A Study for Children on Following Jesus.)

(Photo courtesy of blackstock at FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

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