Don’t Teach Finesse

May 1, 2017 at 2:54 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments
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Previously I discussed the dangers of teaching the Bible to children the way we would teach fables, and of the danger of teaching them that the Bible is merely a sounding board for our feelings. Now we will see that we must also beware of the temptation to teach obedience to God as though it was part of a reward system, or a quid pro quo bargaining chip.

This is an especially dangerous teaching method because of the way even adults, through the so-called “health and wealth gospel” or the “Word of Faith” movement, have been seduced into this way of thinking: “I’ll obey You, God, but I need You give me something in return” (good health and money being the two favorites). We see this train of thought subtly insinuated in promises to get blessings for giving, for ministry, even for faithfulness.

The problem is not really in teaching that God blesses, and even honors, faithfulness. The problem is in slapping our definition of “blessing” onto God’s greater and higher definition of blessing. Children who are taught that God is just aching to give them what their flesh craves are susceptible to developing a mentality of “gaming the system” – of trying to bribe or outsmart God.

But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.

I Timothy 6:6-10

A love of money or any material thing (which amounts to the sin of greed) will bring sorrow instead of joy into the hearts of your children. Let’s teach our children that knowing and serving God is a blessing unto itself, and that even poverty and suffering may be counted as true blessings under His promises.

And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said, Blessed be ye poor: for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are ye that hunger now: for ye shall be filled. Blessed are ye that weep now: for ye shall laugh.

Luke 6:20-21

Don’t Teach Feelings

April 18, 2017 at 2:57 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments
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Last time, I discussed the problem of teaching Bible stories to children as though they are fables. Now we will see another concern that surfaces in many children’s Bible lessons: the emphasis on feelings.

Bible lessons are not therapy sessions. They are not really supposed to be opportunities for children to explore their emotions or feelings. Often, a children’s Bible lesson will have an “application” section so that the teacher can ask the child, “How do you think Jonah felt when was about to be thrown overboard? How do you think Jesus feels when you disobey?” And so forth.

Our feelings are not trustworthy, and it is better that our children understand, at a very early age, that the Bible is a book of absolute truth, not a sounding board for our opinions or feelings.

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?

Jeremiah 17:9

A child should not be encouraged to see himself as the hero in every Bible story. Quite the opposite: he should be encouraged to see himself as the SINNER in every Bible story. Our feelings (just like our wills and our intellects) are fallen. That are bent toward self-glorification, self-justification, and self-interpretation. The hard thing about teaching children is not building up their self-esteem. The hard thing is replacing it (not tearing it down) with esteem for God. Our job as parents, or as children’s Bible teachers, is to utterly convince them that He is absolutely supreme. This task will face its toughest obstacle not in convincing them that He is supreme over the weather, the government, their earthly heroes, us, or even death and the grave. It will be convincing them that He is absolutely supreme over THEM.

He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool: but whoso walketh wisely, he shall be delivered.

Proverbs 28:26

“Just trust your heart,” says Walt Disney. “Follow your heart,” says Cinderella or the little mermaid. “Listen to your heart,” says OprahNO! Trusting and following your heart will make you a fool and may cut you off from God’s help. In grace, you will fail quickly, but in His judgment He may let you have your own way, and you do not want to have your own way over God’s way. Walk wisely and you will figure life out on your own? No. Walk wisely and you will learn from experience? No. Walk wisely and you will be what? DELIVERED, which means rescued by someone more loving, more powerful, more wise, more SUPREME than you.

Let’s teach children Bible truth, not feelings. Then their God-given feelings will focus on Him – where they belong.

Delightfully Intertwined

January 25, 2016 at 2:54 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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When I was in elementary school, we used to play a silly little game. One kid would cross his arms in front of him, turn his palms inward to face each other, lace the fingers of his hands together, then pull his hands up and in, turning the wrists over, so that his hands were sort of held together the way we sometimes do in prayer, but reversed.

https://swimthedeepend.files.wordpress.com/2016/01/eb491-steptwo.jpg?w=550

The person facing him would then tap one of his fingers to see if he could – while watching the tap – move the finger that was tapped. For most people it’s a little harder than it sounds to move the correct finger right away. I’m sure there is some scientific (and somewhat dry) explanation for why it’s difficult, and it probably involves concepts like hand-to-eye coordination and muscle memory. I’m not saying those things aren’t interesting. I’m sure to plenty of people they are. However, there is also joy and wonder and plan old fun in playing the game and trying it out.

Since you became a Christian (IF in fact you HAVE become a Christian), I hope you have been reading your Bible with diligence, fascination, and delight. I also hope you have meditated deeply on what you have read and are reading. Bible study is one of the key ingredients to Christian growth, and you will never fully experience the fullness of Christ the way He wants you to unless you engage in it.

However, as you read more and more of the Bible, and as you think more and more deeply about God, you are bound to come upon certain concepts which are difficult for the finite mind to reconcile. One of the ones I am most often asked about is the perceived tension between man’s will and God’s sovereignty. In explaining what the Bible teaches about these concepts I find it helpful if I can keep myself from beginning with a frown, a sigh, or a crossing of the arms. Though the concepts of human responsibility and Divine predestination may pose difficulties when it comes to our attempts to “reconcile” them, they are never addressed with consternation or puzzlement in Scripture. In fact, they are spoken of as plainly co-existing in blessed harmony. Therefore, as we speak about them, perhaps we should re-imagine them as something in which to be delighted as fully enmeshed – not separate and distinct and contradictory.

Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.

Psalm 16:11

Teaching the 3rd and 4th Commandments to Children

July 12, 2010 at 3:44 pm | Posted in Biblical Teaching, Exodus | 14 Comments
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Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.

Exodus 20:7

The Bible has many negative things to say about vanity, and Commandment No. 3 is a good starting point for teaching children what it means. “Vanity” refers to things which might mean something to people here on earth now, but will not mean anything one day in Heaven. When we take God’s name “in vain,” we make it seem like God is not important to us. That’s one reason why we don’t want to say things like “Oh God” or “Oh my God” in a casual way. Even terms like “gosh” can be a form of taking God’s name in vain. A good rule for children to remember is to only say God’s name when you are actually talking about God.

Here are some names for God in the Bible that most children can easily understand, or may know already:
1. GOD
2. JESUS
3. HOLY SPIRIT
4. HOLY GHOST
5. LORD
6. FATHER
7. ALMIGHTY
8. REDEEMER
9. SAVIOR
10. MESSIAH
11. CHRIST

Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.

Exodus 20:8

Here, under the 4th Commandment, it is important to teach children the reason why God rested. He did not “rest” because He was tired. He rested to show that He was finished with the initial work of creation, and to set an example for us. He also rested in order to set apart a special day – and some things – as special to Him. God wants us to show that we care more about Him than making money.


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