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:
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:
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
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.
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?
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
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
During 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
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?
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."
"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