Pastor William Farley reminds us of the importance of trusting in the Gospel to transform our children's hearts.
Some parents trust in a particular school. Others trust in the ability of the youth leader. Some parents rely on morality. They place their children in front of a wholesome Christian video and trust that Christians will emerge. For most of us, it is more basic. We rely on ourselves—our sincerity, our wisdom, the way our parents raised us, our family traditions, or our cleverness.
But gospel-centered parents trust in the gospel. It is their confidence and hope. The gospel "is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes" (Rom. 1:16). They know that the Word of God is living and active. It pierces (Heb. 4:12)...
This is important.
I have a great appreciation for the men and women whom God has gifted in leading children in God-centered worship. They go beyond the" light and fluffy" approach that has often been associated with children's ministry in order to guide children toward a more biblical view God, which inspires admiration, awe, and praise. One such leader is Pam Grano, and in her excellent seminar “Leading Children in God-Centered Worship,” she helps worship leaders to lay a solid foundation in their vision and philosophy of worship, as well as practical concerns for implementation in the classroom. Some of the areas covered in her seminar are:
In two previous posts, we heard Sally Michael explain why and how we should teach difficult doctrines to children. In this video, she raises and then answers the following five objections:
We can't teach difficult doctrines to children because....
1. These truths are inappropriate to teach to children (e.g., dark; violent; evil).
2. These truths are too hard for children to understand.
3. These truths are too hard for me to understand. How can I hope to teach them to children?
4. The kids are going to be bored with all of this theology.
5. These topics are too controversial. I will get in trouble if I teach these things.
An important word from our friend John Knight posted at Desiring God,
How to Serve Families with Disability
I was enjoying some friendly conversation with old friends after church when my teenaged daughter whispered in my ear, “Dad, he’s losing it.”
A quick glance at my son confirmed her assessment of her older brother with disabilities. Experience had taught us that his vocalizations would only get more intense and much louder. We needed to go.
I felt a heavy sigh welling up as yet another pleasant moment was cut short by my son’s behavior caused by his disabilities. It was another small disappointment added to the 10,000 others before it.
This is an important part of the story about disability in the lives of families. It frequently isn’t the “big things” that are sapping our strength and hope, but the constant little things that wear away at the foundations of our lives.
Does this story sound at all familiar?
A nine-year-old child, who has always shown an interest in spiritual things and a tenderness toward the Gospel, suddenly gives evidence of disinterest or even unbelief. He may even begin to voice antagonism toward prayer, Bible reading, going to church, etc. What's happening? Should you ignore this as simply a "stage" he is going through?
Remember that conversion does not always happen instantaneously but often involves a journey of questioning, evaluating, struggling, and learning to trust. Conversion is a process. The struggle is good—the ugliness of the human heart needs to be experienced and grieved over.
Often at this stage, our temptation as adults is to be impatient and jump to the resolution of the struggle—to “insure salvation for the child.” Hence, this is where our faith as sowers is really tested: do we trust God to bring the child through victoriously? Will we trust in the sovereignty and goodness of God? It is at this time of waiting that our sin nature tempts us to take things into our own hands and push the child to make a commitment that he may be unprepared to make. We fear the outcome of the child’s struggle and we want to secure the desired result. But we need to let go—to guide, encourage, point to Jesus by all means, but also to let go and let the child deal with God, and God with the child. We must not try to manipulate a response.
As long as I have been teaching Sunday school, we always have had some kind of special ritual for celebrating student birthdays. It doesn't need to be anything elaborate or time-consuming. It could be as simple as having the child come to the front of the room and having the class sing "Happy Birthday," and maybe even giving the child a small gift. (Our students love getting special helium balloons.) But even more significant for the child and the whole class would be the gift of a "window"... a type of window through which they can see something grander than their birthday, the song, the balloon, or being the center of attention. Suppose you had the birthday child come to the front and said something like this:
Joey, I am so thankful to God for how He has blessed you this past year. I have seen God’s faithfulness in how He provided you with some new friends this year. I have seen how God has given you a gift of boldness as you have volunteered so many times to read Scripture out loud during our lessons. Isn’t God wonderful!
I am so glad that God has made you a part of our class. Let's pray together and thank Jesus for your birthday. Let's praise Him for every day He has given you this past year. Let's ask Him to show you more and more of His love and greatness this coming year so that you will love and treasure Him most of all.
simile: n. a figure of speech in which one thing is likened to another
in one respect by the use of “like,” “as,” etc.
The Bible uses similes frequently. They paint pictures for our eyes so our minds can grasp biblical truth. They borrow our familiarity with the ordinary to help us understand the profound. Consider the following:
Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.
He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season,
and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers.
A simple picture. A profound truth. Delighting in the Word of God causes us to meditate on it day and night. The person who delights
Timely Thoughts from Pastor Art Murphy:
God uses the lives of godly men and women to affect the lives of others, especially children. God's people should have a natural attractiveness. Because of the positive characteristics demonstrated in Christian's lives, others around them are drawn to seek God. The world is looking for good role models. Who are your children's heroes? Who are your heroes? Do they point children to God, or do they point them to the world, away from God?
This example from Phillip R. Johnson made me laugh, and it brought to mind similar experiences that I have had as a parent and teacher of young children. It also is a good reminder of the importance of repeating, reviewing, and being patient as we teach.
Children rarely get the whole message right the first time. That's why the best Sunday-school curriculum has a lot of built in repetition and review.
My eldest son, Jeremiah, was only three when his Sunday-school class began to have formal lessons. I loved having him retell the stories for me, and I was amazed at how accurate he was with most of the details. I was even more amazed that his little mind could absorb so much.
But he didn't always get the minutiae quite right.
One Sunday he was recounting Jesus' baptism for me. He rehearsed the narrative rapid-fire, without pausing to breathe: "Jesus came to this man—John—who baptized people, and He said, “Baptize Me.” And John said he couldn't do it because he wasn't good enough, but Jesus said do it anyway."
I found this explanation and illustration regarding true saving faith from Tedd Tripp to be very helpful:
We want our children to have faith in God. But what does it mean to have saving faith? Starting with Martin Luther, and further explicated by Philip Melanchthon and others who followed them, Reformed theology has traditionally used a threefold definition of faith as notitia (knowledge), assensus (assent), and fiducia (trust). Our major confessions of faith show this understanding. The Westminster Confession of Faith 14.2 maintains that saving faith joins believing in God’s Word, accepting Christ’s claims, and “receiving and resting on Christ alone” for all that salvation provides.
As a parent who desires his children to exercise saving faith, I am concerned with all three aspects of saving faith. Therefore, my shepherding must intentionally promote notitia, assensus, and fiducia.