Kingdom Teaching for Children

February 14, 2017 at 4:07 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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God’s kingdom will never merge with this world’s kingdom. God’s kingdom is already far greater than any kingdom of this world, and God’s kingdom will one day overcome this world in a very visible way. As Christian parents we want our children to start, from as young an age as possible, thinking more about God’s kingdom than this world’s kingdom.

And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.

Deuteronomy 6:7

“In thine house” means during casual times of conversation, including play and relaxation, but also during formal times of family worship. “By the way” means outdoors, but also in social settings and commercial transactions. “When thou liest down” means a review of the day’s activities, events, and lessons, including the expressing of gratitude and confession of sins. “When thou risest up” means prioritizing God (demonstrating our conviction of His supremacy), in addition to consciously consecrating our bodies and that day’s planned activities to Him.

Give ear, O my people, to my law: incline your ears to the words of my mouth. I will open my mouth in a parable: I will utter dark sayings of old: Which we have heard and known, and our fathers have told us. We will not hide them from their children, shewing to the generation to come the praises of the Lord, and his strength, and his wonderful works that he hath done.

Psalm 78:1-4 (emphasis on Verse 4)

We should glean spiritual truths from redemptive history and use them as teaching tools for our children.

Furthermore, we need to be training our children to grow mentally, physically, spiritually, and socially.

And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.

Luke 2:52

Notice the order: God and then man. Here are some areas and activities where we can talk to our chldren, and teach them about the importance of that order:

I. Look for examples in nature and daily life

II. Talk about what happened in church
A. Preaching
B. Baptisms
C. Lord’s Supper
D. Singing
E. Offering
F. Prayers
G. Fellowship

III. Rehearse history lessons with them
A. The history recorded in the Bible (redemptive history)
B. Church history
C. Personal history
1. Your ancestors’ personal histories
2. Your own personal history
3. Their personal history

When and How to Speak Up

October 20, 2016 at 2:26 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments
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Knowing when to be quiet is an underappreciated Christian virtue. Teaching, preaching, counseling, audible prayer, even verbal praise – and especially evangelism – are the topics of frequent and numerous exhortations from the pulpit and from the Scriptures. However, the art of being quiet – perhaps even dividing our speech by as much as 50% from our accustomed habit – or at least making sure that our ears are working twice as hard as our tongue – is something that probably needs to be stressed more.

Still, this does does not mean that appropriate speaking is not also vitally important. So, in this lesson, I would like to identify some Bible principles that will help us know when – and how – to speak up.

And the eunuch answered Philip, and said, I pray thee, of whom speaketh the prophet this? of himself, or of some other man? Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus.

Acts 8:34-35

Philip, not expecting this encounter with the Ethiopian eunuch, could have been too surprised to speak. He could have held his peace and just assumed that, since the Holy Spirit had worked it out so that the Ethiopian was reading a scroll of Isaiah already, he would figure it out on his own. But he didn’t. He opened his mouth. He opened his mouth and preached. He opened his mouth and preached JESUS.

This leads us to the first principle about identifying the right time and way to speak up:

WHEN: When there is an opportunity
HOW: Christologically (about Jesus)

Isaiah Chapter 53 is about penal substitutionary atonement. You don’t need to know the words “penal substitionary atonement” to speak about the concept, but you definitely need to know the truths for which they stand. Speak up for Jesus. Speak up about Jesus. Speak up on the Person and work of Jesus.

Here is another occasion to speak up:

WHEN: When grace is needed
HOW: Seasoned with salt

Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.

Colossians 4:6

Grace is needed wherever sin, failure, fault, pain, frustration, or hopelessness abound, because where sin abounds, grace does much more abound (Romans 5:20). However, for grace to be heard as grace (because it is being heard in a place of sin, frustration, hopelessness, or pain), it must first be seasoned, and it must be seasoned with salt.

Salt stings, but it cleanses. Salt flavors and it preserves. Salt creates thirst. Too little salt and your attempt at grace will be bland. Too much salt and your attempt at grace will taste terrible.

A third opportunity to properly speak up is:

WHEN: When it’s time to grow up
HOW: In love

That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:

Ephesians 4:14

We have an obligation as part of a family of faith to help each other to grow spiritually. Only truth will help true growth. When my oldest daughter was about to enter junior high school, she decided that she wanted to be a cheerleader. We had enrolled her in gymnastics as a toddler, but, because she spent most of the classes practicing her speed-talking rather than her cartwheels, we decided the money could be better spent elsewhere. I love her dearly, but as she progressed through childhood, it became clear that physical agility and athleticism were not her strong points. To put it kindly, when she attempted any sort of athletic or rhythmic movement, she had the dexterity of a drunken hobo trying to serve tea in a rocking rowboat. So, as her parents, her mother and I had to speak the truth to her about her prospects of making the cheerleading team (not to mention the probability of embarrassment and injury). Hopefully, though, we did it in love.

As Christians, when it’s time to speak up in disagreement, we need to learn to disagree without being disagreeABLE. Love – true Christian love – must be without dissimulation, anyway (Romans 12:9).

Another time to speak up:

WHEN: When anger is warranted
HOW: Softly, after listening carefully

Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.

James 1:19-20

“Be slow to speak” is not the same as not speaking. Unrighteous anger can not always be ignored. At times it must be confronted, but fighting fire with fire only creates a bigger fire. When we have to confront anger with our speech, we need to try to defuse the bomb, not set it off.

A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.

Proverbs 15:1

Be quick to listen, and, when responding, use temperance: control your own temper.

Another instance of speaking up correctly:

WHEN: When people ask what you believe about God (and when people don’t ask)
HOW: With joy, enthusiasm, meekness, and fear

Let the redeemed of the LORD say so, whom he hath redeemed from the hand of the enemy;

Psalm 107:2

Before you became a Christian, you were a prisoner. You were in bondage to sin, Satan, and death, and you had no hope of escape in or of yourself. Created by God to be His servant, you had been taken captive. However, there was a way that you could be set free – “redeemed” – bought back. You may have heard of the practice of “prisoner exchange.” One king or government will sometimes release many prisoners (or one very important prisoner) for the exchange of another king’s or government’s captive citizens. How many servants were you worth? Normally, if the king himself is taken captive, he is ransomed for a great price. But in your case the King Himself ransomed the unworthy servant, and He redeemed you with His own blood! He became your ransom! “He gave Himself a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). How can we NOT speak about this?

There is really never a wrong time to declare your redemption, but it is an especially good time when someone makes an inquiry.

But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:

I Peter 3:15

Then you do it with joy and enthusiasm (because you can’t help it), and you do it with meekness and fear (beause it is not really “your” message). Remember, when someone asks you about why you believe what you believe about Jesus, you are trying to win that person, not win an argument.

WHEN: When teaching or admonishment is needed
HOW: Wisely, spiritually, and with the Word of God

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.

Colossians 3:16

The “Word of Christ” is more than just the red letters in your Bible. It is all of Scripture. We are supposed to allow it to “dwell” in us. Not just visit with us occasionally, but remain constantly. It needs to take up residence in our souls. It is impossible to have a high view of the supremacy of Christ and a low view of Scripture at the same time.

The Word of Christ is supposed to dwell in us richly, the way that rich food – filling food – nourishes us and satisfies us, but also “richly” in the sense of us mining the depths of the riches found in Scripture. We are to seek out the deepest meanings and principles in the Bible, and not be content with a “verse of the day” calendar entry.

Then we are to teach and admonish one another. Teaching is instruction and admonishing is correction when wrongdoing occurs. Because the family of God is diverse, we have different experiences and backgrounds from which we can learn from one another. Because the family of God is unified, we have a shared set of precepts and principles from which we can correct each other in love.

WHEN: When you want to do God’s will
HOW: Thankfully and submissively

Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is. And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.

Ephesians 5:17-21

We want to know and to do God’s will in the general structure of our lives, and in dealing with specific questions concerning what God would have us to do when faced with problems or decisions. His spirit does not lead us to act drunk. Drunks are loud, arrogant, and foolish. Spirit-led Christians are controlled, wise, and temperate.

All Christians should want to do God’s will. God’s will is worked in us in a general way as we teach and admonish one another. God’s specific will is worked in us as we experience the filling of the Holy Spirit, so we speak to one another when we see needs or opportunities for teaching or admonishing each other, but we speak to ourselves continually to make sure we are remembering to give thanks to the Lord and to submit to the Lord. In other words, we need to be speaking – really, preaching – the Gospel to our own souls. Our fear of the Lord is a natural reminder to submit ourselves to Him, and to keep ourselves submitted. Gratitude is naturally humbling and humility is naturally submissive. Talking to yourself is a sign of mental illness for the person who is not saved, but, for the Christian, speaking to yourself is communicating with the Holy Spirit Who fills us.

One more:

WHEN: As a regular part of everyday life
HOW: Diligently

And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.

Deuteronomy 6:7

Communicating the truth of the Word of God from generation to generation requires both regularity and intentionality. Don’t compartmentalize your Christianity. There is no sacred/secular distinction in the Kingdom of God

In conclusion, there is life and death in the power of the tongue. We should use our tongue sparingly and judiciously, but there are times when, if we are to be faithful to Him Who called us, then use it we must.

Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.

Proverbs 18:21

A Diet of Distinction (Part Two)

July 27, 2016 at 1:46 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments
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In Part One we saw that the Old Testament dietary laws are no longer binding on New Testament Christians (Acts 10:9-16). They were perfectly kept, and, in a sense, fulfilled in Christ (Colossians 2:16- 22). Only the Old Testament moral laws, reiterated as the Law of Christ, are considered binding under the New Covenant.

One of the purposes of the Old Covenant dietary laws was that God wanted His people to be “holy.” The Hebrew word translated as “holy” in the Bible has a connotation of “cutting” (setting apart from other people) and “culling” (setting apart unto a dedicated purpose). God’s people are supposed to be “cut off” from sin, and “cut out of” this world’s system. God has always wanted His people to be distinct and different.

For I am the LORD your God: ye shall therefore sanctify yourselves, and ye shall be holy; for I am holy: neither shall ye defile yourselves with any manner of creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.

Leviticus 11:44

The Jewish people were commanded to be unmingled with the world – not trapped in the sins associated with unbelievers. They were to be associated with the Lord’s name, not in name only, but in behavior and in every area of life. This was important partly in order to prevent His people from being influenced into moral sin, and partly to maintain the purity of the bloodline of the coming Messiah. The promised redeemer would have to be a descendant of Abraham in order to fulfill God’s promises.

New Testament Christians know that the Messiah has already come, but the principle concerning the danger of sinful influences still applies:

Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you. And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.

II Corinthians 6:14-18

An Old Testament Israelite could not eat with or stay in the home of a Canaanite because of the unclean foods and other unclean practices, so it would be very difficult to form relationships that would lead to intermarriages and procreation.

It would affect the witness and testimony of God’s people if they became intertwined in the lifestyle of pagan people groups.

A. God’s people should be distinct in their calling and conduct.

Our calling is to glorify God. Therefore our conduct – the way we behave – must bring glory to Him.

Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.

I Corinthians 10:31

God’s Old Testament people were supposed to conduct themselves in a way that let people know they truly believed that their God was real. We must do the same, but we can’t do that without being different from unbelievers, and without speaking His name and being identified openly with Him.

B. God’s people should be distinct in their conscience.

We need to have an awareness of God watching us in the smallest details of our lives.

Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me. If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me. Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee.

Psalm 139:7-12

We must also have an awareness of God loving us and being willing and able to help us please in Him in every detail of our lives.

C. God’s people should be distinct their creeds.

We need to be able to articulate what we believe, and why we believe it. We need to be ready to cite Scripture to back it up.

Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD: And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.

Deuteronomy 6:4-9

D. God’s people should be distinct in their communication.

We should not use unclean language.

But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth.

Colossians 3:8

We should not jest about sin.

Fools make a mock at sin: but among the righteous there is favour.

Proverbs 14:9

We should not use God’s name in vain, and we should not use imprecise language which undermines sound theology, such as saying we are “proud” or “lucky.”

Next time, in Part Three, we will see how God’s dietary laws teach us to have a clean consistency.

Catechism Question 1

February 24, 2014 at 12:05 pm | Posted in Children's Bible Catechism | 6 Comments
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A “catechism” is a teaching device typically in the form of a set of questions and answers. Catechisms have been popular in the history of the Christian Church for training believers in basic doctrine, and for articulating orthodox statements of faith. The Westminster Catechisms (the larger and the shorter) and the Heidelberg Catechism are two of the more well-known catechisms.

The word “catechism” is derived from the Greek words kata, meaning “down,” and ekheo, meaning “to sound.” So we might say that “to catechize” is to “sound down.” In other words, a teacher or instructor verbally questions the student or novice, and the response “echoes” back up with the correct doctrinal answer.

When I decided to formulate a catechism to use with my children I looked at several and came up with a short one, probably influenced the most by a “prove it” catechism for children attributed to Charles Spurgeon that I found online.

The Bible commands fathers to train children in Biblical instruction, and while I do not know of any specific commands to use catechesis as the required method, I do believe that the principle of “sounding down” (parents to children) in a methodical, formal, structured and consistent way is authorized by the Word of God:

And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.

Deuteronomy 6:6-7

When we do it in our family, I ask the question to one of my daughters. She responds with the answer. I say “prove it,” and she proceeds to do so by reciting the correct Bible verse from memory. Starting today, I will be posting the 22 questions and answers to our family’s Bible catechism.

Question 1: Who made you?
Answer: God made me.
Prove it.

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

Genesis 1:27

This is also a good opportunity to explain to children what it means to be made “in the image of God.” To be an “image-bearer” of God does not necessarily mean that we are made in His physical likeness, because the Bible speaks of God as a spirit-being, Who is not confined to a physical body the way we are. However, God is a “person,” and therefore we, like Him, have wills and make choices and have consciousness and have a personality. This makes us unique among all of creation.

This is also a good time to go through the entire creation account of Genesis Chapters 1 and 2, and to consider this verse:

God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.

John 4:24

Thomas Watson Says S.W.I.M. by Faith

September 17, 2012 at 9:08 am | Posted in Quotes | Leave a comment
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Where reason cannot wade there faith may swim.

Thomas Watson, concerning the doctrine of the Trinity

Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD:

Deuteronomy 6:4

And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.

Galatians 4:6

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

Hebrews 11:1


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