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When a Child Goes Astray

Children Desiring God Blog // When A Child Goes Astray

Long ago and far away, I had this little equation in my parenting mind: If we do all the right spiritual ABCs with our children, then God will bring about saving faith in their young lives (by 7 years old)…and just like that, in no time at all, our children will become faithful, fruitful followers of Jesus, doing great things for the kingdom by the time they are 12! That’s the way it’s supposed to work, right? Needless to say my little “salvation equation” for my children was naïve, to say the least! Real-life experience showed a more complicated path. Sometimes that path was confusing, heartbreaking, and even terrifying.

Here are some words from Kim Shay that I found really heartfelt and hope-filled for parents who are experiencing concern over their child’s spiritual condition:

In a perfect world, Christian parents would teach their children the gospel, and it would be embraced quickly, and without incident. Children would go seamlessly from childhood to godly adulthood without a blip on the screen.
As we know, we don’t live in a perfect world. And the reality is that good Christian parents raise children who give them some sleepless nights and break their hearts. I know what that is like. If you have children who never gave you a moment’s trouble, praise God for it! But for those of us who have had children who stray or struggle in their faith, it can be extremely painful. We feel shame and guilt. We may feel anger. But we must not despair. For those who may be in the midst of that kind of season, here are some thoughts.

  • Don’t Take All the Blame…
  • Don’t Compare Them to Others…
  • Don’t Ask “What Will People Think?”…
  • Be Discreet…
  • Focus On Your Own Walk With Christ…
  • Trust God With the Burden…

(from “They are our children, after all”)

I would really encourage you to read the entirety of the article and see how she expands upon these six points.

I would also add and emphasize:

  • Keep teaching the Word of God (Deuteronomy 6:6-9) and modeling the Gospel to your children, even if they seem bored or hostile to it. The message of Christ is what ultimately saves (2 Timothy 3:15-17; Romans 10:17).
  • Be earnest in prayer. Only God can bring new spiritual life to dead sinners. Too often, I relied on my own “great” parenting efforts, thinking it would somehow bring about salvation in my children. Instead, I needed to humbly cry out to God and trust in His sovereign grace.

If you would like more guidance on how to more effectively pray for your children, here are three practical, Scripture-based resources:

 

 

Bible Reading Tips for Kids

Children Desiring God Blog // Bible Reading Tips for Kids

Bible reading plans for kids are great resources to help your children develop the habit of daily Bible reading. (See last week’s post here.) But along with a reading plan, here is a crucial reminder from Sally Michael for you to share with your children before they begin:

…you can read the Bible with your mind only and walk away with just information. You may know a little more, but it hasn’t changed you. You can also read the words but harden your heart against their convicting and healing power.

We are blind to the truth in God’s Word. Without the help of the Holy Spirit, we will read words but we won’t see spiritual truth. We are unable to open our hearts to the power of the Word of God. We desperately need God’s help.

(ESV Children’s Bible, page ix, © 2005)

While acknowledging our utter dependence on God to bring about understanding and transformation, we can give children some tips that may help them experience the rich benefits of God’s Word. I’ve adapted the following from what Sally Michael and I wrote for the ESV Children’s Bible:

Pray

We must approach the Word of God with the prayer that God will open our minds and hearts (Psalm 119:18, 34).

Meditate

You will get so much more out of the Bible if you think about what you read (2 Timothy 2:7). Read a short section, and then stop. THINK. Ask yourself questions about the passage, such as:

  • Who is speaking? To whom is he speaking?
  • What do the words mean?
  • Do the verses that come before and after help me to understand this passage?
  • What does this say about who God is and what He is like?
  • Does this passage say how we should act toward God?
  • What does this say about what people are like?
  • How does this passage point to our need for salvation in Jesus?
  • Is there a command to be obeyed, or a promise to trust?
  • How does this passage show the greatness and worth of God—God the Father, Jesus the Son, the Holy Spirit?

Apply

Remember that as you read God’s Word, God is speaking to you. The stories in the Bible tell about things that happened in the past, but they are also intended to give understanding today. We should always respond to the Word of God. Sometimes our response may be recognizing an action we need to take, or an attitude or idea we need to change. It may be a prayer that comes from our heart, a decision we make, or a sinful attitude or action we must confess. After discovering what God is asking of us in his Word, we must then go and do it (Hebrews 4:12; James 1:25).

 

 

Encouraging Your Children to Read the Bible In 2018

Children Desiring God Blog // Encouraging Your Children to Read the Bible

A new year is soon upon us and, for many adults, it is a time to begin a new Bible reading plan for 2018. But what about your children? Do you have an age-appropriate plan for them? Are you helping them to include Bible reading as a regular, daily, beneficial habit? David Murray has an excellent post regarding this. He starts the post with this question:

“How can I get my kids to read the Bible for themselves?” I’ve been asked that by many frustrated Christian parents. I’ve asked it myself!…Here’s what I’ve learned from my own experience and from talking with many parents and pastors.

He then outlines six ways to encourage your children in Bible reading:

  • Make it a priority.
  • Make it a joy.
  • Make it a habit.
  • Make it do-able.
  • Make it accountable.
  • Make it Gospel-centered.

And here is a portion from the post that I found especially applicable:

Christian parents must prioritize the Bible above all other subjects. Yes, there are many subjects to teach our children, but teaching them to study the Bible is the most important by far. And communicating that priority to our children is the first and most essential step in that process.

Children Desiring God Blog // Encouraging Your Children to Read the BibleBy our own example of personal Bible reading, by reading of the Bible together as a family, and by regular attendance at a Bible-focused church, we are sending a message that will make teaching them to study the Bible for themselves so much easier. If they see that we clearly view the Bible as the greatest book in the world, it’s far more likely that they will want to read it for themselves.

You can read the entire post here. You might also want to look at his resource, Exploring the Bible: A Bible Reading Plan for Kids and the accompanying weekly videos.

Some further thoughts:

  • Use an actual Bible and not a storybook or abridged Bible. Yes, there is a place for these types of resources, but they should not replace children reading the actual Holy Bible, even if it is only a few verses a day for younger children.
  • “Be there” to help your child if necessary. For some children, having dad or mom sit alongside them, will greatly increase the likely-hood of making this a special time.
  • Use a physical Bible (read why I recommend this here).
  • Create a quiet space/place that is conducive to reading. Make sure distractions and digital media are out of reach.
  • Consider an “incentive plan.” For example: 30 days of Bible reading means getting to go out for ice cream with dad. Hopefully and prayerfully over time, a child will realize that the benefits of reading God’s Word are immeasurably more delightful than any treat!

 

 

Celebrating the Miraculous Time of Christmas

Children Desiring God Blog // Celebrating the Miraculous Time of Christmas

It’s often said that Christmas is a “magical” time for children. But a more accurate description should be that Christmas is a “miraculous” time as we ponder the miracle of the incarnation. So as we think and plan toward how we will teach about and celebrate Christmas with the children in our home and church, let us consider the importance of the doctrine of the incarnation. Consider these words from Jared Wilson from his article “The Christmas Miracle of the Incarnation of the Omnipresent Word.”

Every year at this time as we celebrate the birth of baby Jesus to the virgin Mary, I don’t suppose it occurs to too many merrymakers that what they’re really celebrating is the Incarnation. All of the other miracles are in service of that central miracle: God became man. And in becoming, through Spiritual conception, the man Jesus of Nazareth, the Word of God did not cease to be God. Baby Jesus, from the moment of conception to the straw habitation of the manger, was fully God and fully man. That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.

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Thanking God for the Life and Ministry of R.C. Sproul

Children Desiring God Blog // Thanking God for the Life and Ministry of RC Sproul

My early 20s were marked by a spiritual tsunami of sorts. It came about as I read The Holiness of God by R.C. Sproul. God graciously used that book as a means to destroy my old, drab perceptions of who God is and what He is like. Sadly, even though I had been raised in the church my entire childhood and youth, I had not been taught the matchless splendor of God’s holiness. Sproul’s book was my first real exposure to the majestic holiness of God, a God who is worthy of all love, reverence, obedience, praise, and glory. And with that grand vision of the holiness of God, everything began to change. The authority of Scripture, character of God, depth of my depravity, essence of Christ’s redeeming work, and life in union with Christ, all came into clearer focus and have impacted every aspect of my life. (more…)

A Gift That Keeps On Giving for a Lifetime

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

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

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

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

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Bring Your Children to the “Market Day of the Soul”

Children Desiring God Blog // Bring Your Children to the "Market Day of the Soul"

I often struggled with the impact of our Sunday church routine when our children were young. Their regular routines—food, naps, playtime, etc.—were disrupted, often resulting in tired crabby children and parents…and we only had two children. My daughter and her husband have four little ones. Multiply the potential struggles!

Parents, here is some encouragement provided by Megan Hill this week in her article, “Sundays Are for Babies.” I highly recommend that you read the entire, short article. Here is an excerpt:

Sundays are given to us as a day of rest—a reminder of God’s rest at creation and a foretaste of the saints’ everlasting rest in heaven. But the Lord’s Day rest is not simply an extended afternoon nap. True rest is found in pausing from our ordinary work and, as the Westminster Confession explains it, engaging in “the public and private exercises of His worship, and in the duties of necessity and mercy.” In those activities, we recharge our souls. On Sundays, God gives us a rest even better than sleep. (more…)

The Focus of Your Classroom

Children Desiring God Blog // The Focus of Your Classroom

There are a variety of wonderfully exciting and visually appealing resources designed for the Sunday school classroom these days—high-tech digital media being just one example. There is no denying that these types of teaching tools have a special draw for children. But we must be extremely careful. As more than one pastor has cautioned the church: “What you win them with, is what you win them to.”

Recently we received an encouraging note from a teacher, Yvonne, who is using the Jesus, What a Savior curriculum in her classroom. Here is what she said: (more…)

What Will the Next Generations Stand Upon?

Children Desiring God Blog // What Will the Next Generations Stand Upon?

Imagine your children 20 years from now. What do you want them to “stand upon” and have full confidence in? What will provide the only unshakable bedrock for them in the midst of the world’s changing norms and values? What will they hold fast to as they are bombarded with more and more information in our digital age? How will they be able to discern truth from error in a world of competing ideas and beliefs?

In the past few weeks, the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation has been highlighted and celebrated. We would do well to pass on to our children and students the importance of this historic event. The very essence of the Gospel was at stake as Luther and the other reformers reaffirmed the eternal truths of Scripture. One of these truths was the importance of the authority of Scripture alone. For Luther, it was truly a matter of life or death. Here is an excerpt from an article titled, “Here We Stand” by Albert Mohler:

Martin Luther’s great moment of theological clarification came at the climax of a command performance. Facing the threat of martyrdom and execution, Luther appeared on trial at the Diet of Worms before the Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire. Asked on what authority he dared to defy the Pope and the magisterium of the Roman Catholic Church, Luther famously replied: (more…)

God-Glorifying Books for Gift Giving

Children Desiring God Blog // God-Glorifying Books for Gift Giving

Do you enjoy giving encouraging, God-glorifying books to your children, grandchildren, nieces, or nephews? Have you been searching for a meaningful gift to encourage families over the upcoming holidays, or to show appreciation to your volunteers? Do you like to give books to children for class promotions or milestones they’ve reached?

If you love to give valuable resources to encourage the faith of the next generation there is a new bulk-pricing option for the Making HIM Known series and Jesus is Most Special. Individual books are also available below list price. The devotional books correlate to various Children Desiring God Sunday School or Midweek Bible curricula, and Jesus is Most Special involves children in telling the Christmas story. (more…)

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