Family Friday Links 10.25.19

Here’s what we’ve been reading online this week:

The Gospel Coalition had a post by Pastor Jeff Robinson on ways to ruin your kids. The post ends this way, “… God gives grace for deeply flawed parents like me, and that he can lead kids to walk straight with him in spite of their parents’ clumsiness.” Parents, we all going to make mistakes, what we need to do is learn from them and trust God in the midst of them.

Simple Parenting had a post about dangerous parenting idols. The post lists three that parents commonly struggle with. Parents, are these true of you? If so, read to the end of the post to learn how to identify and deal with them.

Scott Kedersha had a great post recently for married couples entitled, “The Right Question To Ask In the Bedroom”. It’s on marital intimacy. This is a good read for newly married couples as well as those who have been married for years.

What have you been benefitting from online lately? Leave us a link in the comment section to check out!

Family Friday Links 10.18.19

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Here’s what we’ve been reading online lately:

Corey Jones had a post being a creative teacher. If you teach kids, this a great post for you. This is also a great post to use to train teachers.

Barnabas Piper had a post on kids and curiosity. He wrote, “Curiosity is that thing which fuels the best relationships with God and people, drives every sort of creativity, and opens our eyes to the world around us for pleasure and for mission.” He goes on to list ways that parents and pastors can keep kids curious.

Ministry Spark had a post on a pastor’s need for community. If you are a pastor, you NEED to read this. Here is the reason why, “Investing in community is worth the sacrifice.”

What have you been reading online lately? Leave us a link in the comment section to check out.

Teaching Kids about Ash Wednesday and Lent

Teaching Kids about Ash Wednesday and Lent

To know the seasons of the Christian year is to know the milestones of Jesus' earthly ministry--from the promise of his coming at Advent through his resurrection at Easter and the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. As Christians, we want our personal story to be shaped by his story. One way the universal church has practiced this historically is by letting Christ's life shape our time--not just at Christmas and Easter but throughout the year.

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Christmas in a Minor Key: Reflections on "A Charlie Brown Christmas"

Christmas in a Minor Key: Reflections on "A Charlie Brown Christmas"

Christmastime is here. Bring on the blitz of traditions and travels, wants and wishes. Get the shopping done, get the family together, get the food ready. With so many things trying to get in, sometimes it seems like nothing succeeds and Christmastime is empty instead of full. This can only mean it’s time for the annual viewing of A Charlie Brown Christmas.

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Kids and church, part 2: Sound doctrine, food for God's lambs

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Jesus commanded Peter, “Feed my lambs,” (John 21:15). Once we see the necessity of the church feeding those who are young in faith and young in age (see my previous post), the obvious question is: What do we feed them? When a shepherd is seeking to feed his little lambs, he seeks the lushest pasture. He wants to help these lambs grow up to be big and strong. When it comes to feeding those who are either young in the faith or young in age, the answer is simple--though it's hard to carry out. The answer is doctrine. Our doctrine, that is, our theology or knowledge of God, should always be growing. With each passing year, we should know God better, know him more deeply, know him more personally. We need to grow in our understanding of who God is so that we can better understand how to follow him faithfully.

But doctrinal study is a difficult discipline for seasoned believers to grow in, let alone those who are young. And yet it is necessary. When I say that the lambs need doctrine, I don’t mean that they simply need to memorize definitions and theological concepts. What I mean is that they must understand those concepts and how to apply them. This is where it gets hard. Here's what I mean. Shepherds take concepts that are, by their very nature, complex and difficult to understand, and we seek to make them simple. Teaching complex realities simply requires creativity with our teaching methods while remaining faithful to the truth. It has been my experience that this is a difficult balance to maintain; I often err on one side or the other. The balance is necessary though.

Here are two ways to get it wrong when teaching doctrine.

Most of the time it’s not so much the difficulty of the ideas or concepts we are trying to teach that is the problem. Rather, it's our lack of preparation. We may be easily frustrated when students don’t understand what we are communicating and assume the problem is on their side. But if we're honest the problem is ours. As teachers, we haven't dedicated the time to fully understand theological concepts ourselves, so we're not ready to convey their meaning.

Another way we teach doctrine wrongly is when we "dumb it down" in order for youth or children to understand. This does an injustice both to the doctrine and our students. As teachers and preachers, we need to keep the truth simple without simplifying it. We should never change the truth to make it more acceptable or intentionally leave out harder concepts (e.g. the Trinity, or the atonement) that may take more time to digest and understand. Yes, this is hard, but it's what we’ve been tasked to do. As teachers, we must be faithful with the whole counsel of God.

Here are a few ways to teach doctrine well.

Instead of dumbing down truth, we should break it down. Instead of simplifying truths, we distill them by teaching doctrine in chunks and by making sure our definitions are clear.  

And, after breaking down doctrinal truths into digestible chunks, we must also help help young lambs put the pieces together. We need to help youth see how individual truths connect with the bigger picture, the grand narrative of Scripture. When we do this well, we help kids see that the individual doctrines are simply windows through which we view our big God, and we lead them to worship and glorify the God of doctrines.

Finally, it's important to remember that no truth has been fully learned until it has been lived. Young ones don't need to simply memorize a definition that is divorced from practice. They need to work doctrine into their experience. In order for this goal to be accomplished, we teachers must both understand the material we are teaching and understand how this doctrine applies to our students. This requires one major thing. We must know the sheep. Proverbs 27:4 says, "Be sure you know the condition of your flocks, give careful attention to your herds." There's a principal there for teachers. We must know our students personally and lead them to apply doctrine where they live. We must make it personal for them so they can understand the truth experientially. We must help those young in age or faith to see how specific doctrines apply to their particular stage of life.

May God help us shepherd them well.

A Caution about Orphan Care and Adoption Theology

A Caution about Orphan Care and Adoption Theology

The theology of adoption is a beautiful thing. I’m eternally grateful for it as a child of God. I have been adopted. I was not God's child. Now I am. My inheritance is now with my Father in heaven (Romans 8:15)  He is the author of adoption. He sacrificed so that, through faith, I live and have been made a part of his family.

But this theology can only capture part of the story. God himself cannot be fully understood by pondering one aspect of his character or work (or one thousand for that matter). There are many truths about God that need to inform how we view earthly adoption.  I’m now concerned about some practical ramifications for adoptees if we only tell them that their story is a beautiful redemption story, that it was God’s plan from the beginning of time for them to be with their adoptive family. While these things are true, this is only part of the story. What do our dear ones do with the pain?  The loss? The desire to find their birth family? Birth culture? 

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Dads, Spend Time with Your Kids One-on-One.

Dads, Spend Time with Your Kids One-on-One.

If you're a husband, I’m assuming you’ve read Date Your Wife by Justin Buzzard, (and if you haven’t, you should) and that you understand the need to spend quality time pursuing your spouse. In this post, I want to encourage all dads to pursue your kids, too. Leading family devotions are one thing, but personal time with each of your children is equally important. By addressing men, I’m not saying that moms can’t do this as well. And if you're a single parent, these goals are still applicable. Here is what I want to make clear. Husbands and fathers have responsibility before the Lord to care for and cultivate their family (Ephesians 6:4). Here are three goals. 

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Family Friday Links 11.10.17

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Here’s what we’ve been encouraged by online this week:

In light of last weekend’s tragic events in Texas, Phillip Bethancourt, had a post on the ERLC site about how to talk to your kids about it. He writes, “Parents must be willing to directly address the doubts and questions of their children. Will it be safe to go to church next Sunday?” This is the kind of proactive parenting all believing parents need to be engaged in on a regular basis.

Matt Blackwell had a post on the Verge Family site entitled “Raising Disciples”. In it he says, “Parents have to work hard to build a Christ-centered home and not a kid-centered home, because a kid-centered home produces self-centered adults.” It’s easy for any of to get pulling in multiple direction at once, but what we all need to remember is to keep Christ at the center. This a great parenting resource, pass it along to those in your church that need it.

Burk Parsons had a post on the Tabletalk site on the subject of being a faithful servant. He wrote, “The most essential quality of leadership is humility, and authentic humility is manifested by courage, compassion, and conviction.” As a leader, this is a needed reminder of our high calling.

What blog posts or online articles have you been reading this week? Leave us a link in the comment section and we’ll check it out.