New Resource: My Story Guidebook for Small Groups or Sunday Classes

In Psalm 78, God instructs older generations to tell younger generations about the work of God and His nature so young people will set their hope in God and keep His commands. The Psalmist states, “Tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the Lord, and His might, and the wonders He has done. He established a testimony in Jacob.” God wants us to report to future generations what God has done in our life. God wants us to share our story and talk about our experience with God. God is very specific regarding what we are to talk about: His deeds, His might, and His wonders. Our story isn’t the point, it’s the pointer.

According to the Bible, our story is a means of describing the work of God and His nature. It is our testimony recounting what God has done and who God is. We read, “God has established a testimony in Jacob” (Ps. 78:5). God has also established a testimony in every Christian and He wants us to tell it. We can ask questions such as, “How has God worked in our life? How has He proven faithful? How has He provided for us? What have we learned about God throughout our life? Do our children or grandchildren know about our God stories?”

One method to tell our story is to create a written record to pass on to our children and grandchildren. The Bible utilizes this method to encourage future generations to praise God, “Let this be recorded for a generation to come, so that a people yet to be created may praise the Lord” (Ps. 102:18). God has chosen the written Word as the key method to draw us to Christ and deepen our faith (2 Tim. 3:15; Col. 1:28) and we can do the same by recording our story in writing for our children and grandchildren.

Are You Looking for Help Writing Your Story?

My Story Groups are designed to help Christians write their faith story and capture meaningful memories that will strengthen their children’s and grandchildren’s faith in Christ. My Story Groups were created because many individuals have the best intentions to write their story, but sometimes struggle to accomplish this goal on their own. Recently, my father presented my children (his grandchildren) with his written testimony and the details about not knowing Christ in his childhood or teenage years, coming to faith in college, growing in faith as a young man and newly married couple, and wisdom he wanted to pass on to his grandchildren. My dad’s faith story is a wonderful gift to my children that I pray God uses to draw them to Him and establish a deep faith in their heart. My Story groups help you to write your story and pass it on to your family as a tool to grow their faith in Christ.

The My Story Guidebook is designed around community. Gathering in community with other Christians helps us complete the task of writing our story because we are cheered on by others, inspired by other people’s stories, and supported when we get stuck. The My Story Guidebook can be used in a small group setting, a Sunday School class, or even by Zoom. The guidebook provides details about how to launch and lead a My Story Group. It walks you through how to facilitate, plan, and promote your group. The resource provides sessions and topics of discussion, a group covenant, tips to start and finish writing your story, resources, and some ideas about how to share your faith story with your children or grandchildren. 

The My Story Guidebook is available as a digital download for $7.99 or as a book for $9.99

We have seen My Story Groups become transformative for those who wrote their faith stories and those who received them, bearing fruit and impacting individuals in countless and unseen ways. When we share our story, we are honoring the biblical command to tell the next generation about God. Gather with a group of parents, grandparents, or fellow believers and write your story today and bless your family tomorrow. 

Doing Math, Indoctrinating Children, and Lies Children Believe

Doing Math to the Glory of God

A new school year is upon us. I’ve begun to see first day of school pictures on social media so I thought it would be good to think about a school related topic: math. Math was one of the most difficult subjects for me as a child. I received poor grades and needed extra tutoring just to pass. I never loved math. Because I went to a public school for half of my education, I never learned why math works or the motive for learning math. Math makes sense because God created an orderly world. The laws of math are a testimony to God himself. The Bible itself talks a lot about math. In fact, it has a book of the Bible titled Numbers and has a lot of guidance about how we are to be good stewards with money and resources. Math became more bearable for me as I student in college when I was given some reasons to learn it — to serve God through engineering (so we can build a bridge to be a blessing in our city or to reach an unreached people group) and personal finances. The Bible calls us to do all things to the glory of God, including math. In this article, John Piper provides some valuable thoughts that may be worth reading and sharing with your child as you start a new year of math. 

Indoctrinate Your Children or Someone Else Will

Allie Beth Stuckey wisely recognizes that children are always being indoctrinated. Indoctrination isn’t the problem. The bigger question is who is doing the indoctrination and what children are being encouraged to believe and act upon. Allie suggests that children are being encouraged to love self, which is the opposite is what the Gospel calls us to in Scripture. Allie asks parents to consider what worldview we want our children to have and how media and education are shaping their beliefs. The good news is that God has given us the tools we need to accomplish the tasks He has called us to. Through the help of a Bible believing local church and a commitment to making Christ the priority of our lives and hopes, we can saturate our children in the truths of Scripture and entrust them to Lord. To read the article, click here. 

7 Lies Our Children are Encouraged to Believe

We are in a battle for the hearts and minds of our children. In any battle, it is always helpful to know the tactics of the enemy or any details of the strategy to win a war. Elizabeth Urbanowicz shares some of the more common lies from our society that children are in danger of absorbing. It is helpful to recognize these messages so that we can discuss them with our children and help them to reject them as they are encountered. One of the goals we have had with our children is to the be first and loudest voice and to help them understand the truth so that they can reject lies. This video is a little over an hour in length, perfect to watch while folding laundry, preparing a meal, or watching after the kids go to bed (or even with older children). 

Speaking Schedule Over the Next Three Months

I would appreciate your prayers that God would do a divine work in the hearts and minds of those I have the privilege of speaking to over the next three months. I have more than 35 talks and 15 trips, so it’s going to be a very busy stretch. Here is a quick summary of my summer and fall speaking calendar. If I’m coming to your church, city, or state, I would love to connect!

Southeast Homeschool Expo in Georgia

Jen and I fly to Atlanta for a two day event called the Southeast Homeschool Expo where we will speak six times on July 30-31. I’m excited that Jen and I have the opportunity to do this together!

Parenting With a Plan in Virginia

Jen and I are providing a two day parenting conference on August 27-28 based on our new book 50 Things Every Child Needs to Know Before Leaving Home and then I’m preaching at the Sunday services at EastLake Community Church. 

Parenting Getaway for Pastors and Christian Educators in Tennessee

We are hosting 26 couples at Manderely camp in Tennessee. This event is specifically for pastors or Christian educators to help them design a discipleship plan for their children and implement family ministry in their organization. There is no cost to attend, other than paying airfare. We have space for about six additional couples, if interested, let me know. Dates are September 8-10. 

Parenting Event in Minnesota

Woodcrest Church is providing a parenting event on Sept. 15 and 22 to equip their families. I will be speaking on Expanding Your Family Discipleship Vision and Discipling Children: 8 Spiritual Practices Every Parent and Grandparent Can Do. If you are in Minnesota, would love to see you there. No cost to attend. 

Parenting Conference, Grandparenting Events, and Preaching in Virginia

I will be speaking at a Friday night and Saturday morning parenting conference, preaching on Sunday at Parkway House of Prayer, and providing a grandparenting event on Sunday evening September 24-26 in Roanoke, Virginia. 

Mega Con Children’s Ministry Conference in Tennessee

I’m looking forward to being at Mega Con for the first time. Approximately 2,000 children’s pastors and staff will gather for a couple of days of encouragement and equipping. I’ll be at the Renewanation booth and providing a couple of breakouts on Discipling Children. If you are in children’s ministry and attending, make sure to stop by and say hi! October 5-7.

Lake Region Christian School in Minnesota

I get to travel to northern Minnesota on Oct. 15 to speak at grandparents day for the school. I may also have to see if the fish are biting!

Legacy Grandparent Summit in Alabama

I will be gathering with over 1,000 of my closest grandparenting friends in Birmingham, Alabama on Oct. 21-22 for the fourth national grandparenting conference. This event will be simulcast to more than 30 locations. I had the joy of helping launch the Legacy Coalition a number of years ago, so I’m excited to see everyone! I will provide a main stage talk on Shaping the Worldview of Grandchildren.

Mid-America Association of Christian Schools Conference in Missouri

I will be a main stage speaker at the 38th annual educators conference and hosting a table at the event on Nov. 3-5.

Intentional Grandparenting Conference in South Carolina

I’m joining a handful of other speakers including Cavin Harper and Larry McCall to speak to a group of grandparents in South Carolina on Nov. 5-6. 

Parenting Conference in Texas

As the weather gets cooler in Minnesota, it’s nice to escape to some warm destinations. I will head south to Katy, Texas where I will provide a parenting conference at BridgePoint Church on Nov. 12-13. 

If you are in any of these locations, would love to see you. And would love your prayers that God would work in each of these events in the hearts and minds of those I interact with. If you are interested in bringing me to your church, school, or city let me know! I’m currently booked through April 2022 so taking requests for summer and fall of 2022. 

Single Parent Statistics, Education Alternatives, and Discipling a Drop Out

I have a handful of resources that I wanted to let you know about as I found each of them helpful in different ways. 

Single Parent Statistics

The number of single parent homes in the United States continues to grow. Today, more than one out of every three children will be born to a single parent home. The impact this will have on children, families, and society is significant. Ministry leaders must be mindful of supporting and ministering to single parents as they will need additional help. Parents should work extra diligently to help their children understand the consequences of an out of wedlock birth or divorce. One of the biblical methods to detour young people from negative choices is to show them the consequences and allow them to feel the weight of sinful decisions. Grandparents are given a God-designed surrogate role to step into the family when there are needs such as single parenting. If you are interested in seeing single parent statistics, click here. You can search by state to get a clear picture of the need in your area. 

Education Alternatives for Public School

I recently read that California, New York, and Detroit will require children to wear masks when they return to school this fall. I imagine additional cities and states will be added to the list. In Minnesota, where I live, parents are fighting hard right now to ensure masks are not worn this fall, but that is yet to be determined. Parents are also waking up to many of the radical and unbiblical things their children are taught at school. If there was a silver lining to Covid, the shift to online school allowed parents to see what children were being taught. The LGBTQ agenda, comprehensive sex education, critical race theory (also called equity), and an anti-American agenda are a sampling of what public school has become. As a result, public school attendance dropped by 2.36 percent nationally, which equated to over 1.5 million children. The initial indication is that more parents are removing children for this upcoming school year and, I believe for Christians, this is a wise choice. There are three great options for families to consider: homeschooling, Christian school, or live online classes

How to Disciple a Church Drop Out

Jared Wilson has written a helpful article called How to Disciple Your Kids Into Church Drop Out Status. This isn’t a feel good article, but for any parent who wants to see their children grow up with lifelong faith in Christ and faithful commitment to a local body of believers, then this is an article worth reading. There is no shortage of research available about drop-out statistics. Depending on the study, you will find that anywhere between 45-80 percent of children drop out of the church. It was once believed that many of these individuals would return later in life. But that is becoming less and less the outcome. Of course, there are many factors that cause a child to drop out of church and walk away from Christ. Jared mentions a handful of them. Most of Jared’s items are focused on the local church. Infrequent attendance, church hopping, and no corporate worship (only children’s and youth ministry) are problematic. I will add to his list divorce of parents, secular education, and parents who prioritize something other than Christ in the home. For parents, these topics are helpful to think about so that we can do everything in our power to eliminate barriers that our children may experience to know, love, and serve Christ.

Two Vacations With a Purpose

If you are looking for an idea for a future family vacation, why not do something that is fun and purposeful at the same time? There are lots of options, but this post is going to highlight two ideas that are impactful and enjoyable. 

Creation Museum Guide

We have been to the Creation Museum and Ark Encounter a couple of times as a family. You will need a couple days, ideally one day for the Ark and one for the Creation Museum. A half a day was perfect for our children, but all families are different. The movies, music, displays, and book store are all fantastic. The apologetic material that we purchased for our children have been read again and again. The staff at the Creation Museum created an educational guide that is worth purchasing and will help you bring some intentionality and talking points to the different displays. They have created different guides for several grade levels, K-2nd, 3rd-6th, and 7th-adult.  There are both student guides and leader guides. Individual copies cost $1.99. We have added one extra element that has really hammered home the truth that our children experience at the Creation Museum. On our drive home we also stop at a natural history museum and discuss the naturalistic, evolutionary beliefs in the displays. On our last trip, my children had a wonderful discussion with the tour guide at the natural history museum about the fallacies behind evolution. We’ve done this trip twice with our children and they recently requested that we do it again. I guess they enjoyed it!

Washington D.C.

We have family that lives in Washington D.C. so visit every few years. There is no shortage of museums and sites to see in Washington D.C. Stephen McDowell, the founder of the Providence Foundation, created a helpful tool that can be used on a self-guided tour of many of the most popular sites in Washington D.C. including the Library of Congress, the Supreme Court, the Capitol Building, the National Archives, the Washington Monument, the White House, the Lincoln Memorial, and the Jefferson Memorial. For a brief overview, click on this link. For $16.99, you can purchase this book. This unique book will guide you through famous historical sites, recounting important providential events, and tell the Christian history of the people who founded this nation and who are honored with monuments, memorials, and statues. Includes: Washington, DC, Philadelphia, Mt. Vernon, Jamestown, Williamsburg, Yorktown, Monticello, and more. Presents biographical sketches of many Founders, highlighting their personal faith: Washington, Jefferson, William Penn, Madison, Patrick Henry, and more. From the paintings in the Capitol to the story of the Liberty Bell, learn how our national buildings, monuments, and heroes declare that America was a nation birthed with a firm reliance on Almighty God. 

Biblical Worldview is Available as an Audiobook

A few months ago I was contacted by Charles Markert, who had just finished reading my book Biblical Worldview. He was impacted by the message of the book and convinced that it needed to become an audiobook so it could be listened to as well as read. Charles believed this so deeply that he offered to record and master the audio. The 6 hours and 29 minute audiobook is now available at Amazon, Audible and iTunes. Thank you Charles for your excellent work on this audiobook!

George Barna’s research suggests that extremely low numbers of children have a biblical worldview. His research suggests that less than 10% of children think, act, and live according to biblical principles. If true, that is a troubling statistic that should concern all parents, grandparents, and pastors. This book was written to help children develop a biblical worldview through the influence of family, church, and school. Here is a summary of the book.

In this brief book, you’ll discover what a biblical worldview is, why it matters, and how to establish this foundation in the life of a child. Filled with practical tools and ideas, Biblical Worldview will help you lead children to lifelong faith in Jesus and a fruitful ministry serving him in the world. It’s a helpful resource for parents, grandparents, teachers, and church leaders – anyone that leads children in their spiritual development. 

There is a battle being fought for the hearts and minds of children, and much is at stake. The world is working diligently to assimilate young people to its way of thinking. The beliefs our children develop inevitably shape their decisions and determine their eternal destiny. In a word, worldview is about beliefs. This book will equip you to help young people develop a strong biblical foundation and doctrinal framework for a biblical worldview. Biblical worldview is built on the foundation of the authority, inerrancy, and sufficiency of the bible. This book will help you establish this foundation in the hearts and minds of young people so that they trust the bible, think about life from a Christian perspective, and live according to biblical principles. 

Our worldview is developed as we establish beliefs about four critical topics: 

  1. Creation: How did I get here? What is my purpose? 
  2. Rebellion: What went wrong? Why is there evil and suffering? 
  3. Salvation: What is the solution? Where do I find hope? 
  4. Restoration: What happens in the future? How do we transform lives and change the world? 

These four pillars create the framework for a person’s worldview. It is critical that all four pillars of faith are firmly established and that deep-down convictions are developed around these biblical truths. Biblical Worldview is a serious call to shape the next generation’s beliefs with the bible. The aim of Biblical Worldview is embracing gospel truth for godly living. This book is a short introduction to biblical worldview and will equip you to help children develop a biblically-based view of life that will transform their homes, communities, and nations.

Philosophy of Homeschooling, Emptiness of the Modern Home, and Countries With Slavery

I ran across a handful of resources that I wanted to let you know about as I found each of them helpful in different ways. 

5 Flavors of Home Educating

Home educating has grown considerably over the past year and many couples are thinking about homeschooling in the future. If you are currently home educating or considering it, then this 25 minute video may be valuable to watch. My wife and I are veteran homeschool parents of five. One of the questions we get regularly is regarding what approach to take and the differences in homeschool philosophy. This is one of the most concise, clear explanations I’ve found. If you are thinking about taking the dive into homeschool this fall, then this would be a great video to watch. Jen and I are predominately a hybrid of Charlotte Mason (we use a literature based approach) with a classical leaning. We have many friends who utilize a different philosophy than us and are thriving as well. Listen to this video and identify which approach may fit your family. 

Making the Home a Place of Purpose and Production

I found the article A Place to Eat, Sleep, and Watch: Emptiness in the Modern Household by Desiring God very encouraging and insightful. The author notes how changes in the industrial era impacted the home by causing a majority of valuable endeavors to be outsourced, which has greatly reduced the impact and value of home. Education, care of elderly, recreation, grandparents, discipleship, and business have all been outsourced emptying the home of people (extended family, school aged children, singe, and sick), productivity (home industry, education of children, involvement in community), and with all this, the purpose of the home as decreased. As a result, the home has become a place to eat, sleep, and watch shows. Being intentional to make the home a hub for people and a place of production will help to restore a sense of purpose.  

Countries that Still Have Slavery

I found this website sobering and helpful in creating perspective regarding the current cultural conversations happening in America. Today, over 167 countries enslave people, which impacts over 46 million individuals. The top countries include India (18.4 million), China (3.4 million), Pakistan (2.1 million), Bangladesh (1.5 million) Uzbekistan (1.2 million). These are real people in modern slavery. The current discourse in America about racial issues pale in comparison to the reality of what is happening in these other countries. While America is not perfect, we have made great progress that has not occurred in other parts of the world and the reason for this success in America is Christianity. If you would like to learn more about what countries have modern slavery and the numbers, click on the link above. 

Two Curriculum Resources for Your Family, Church, or School

Here are two resources that may be helpful for your family, children’s ministry, homeschool co-op, or Christian school.

The first resource is brand new from Elizabeth Urbanowicz of Foundation Worldview called Careful Thinking Curriculum. This curriculum was developed to equip 10-14 year olds with the basic skills they need to evaluate the truthfulness of ideas and set the stage for critical thinking in every area of life. As children learn basic skills in careful thinking, they quickly begin to recognize faulty ideas in the world around them. As parents, caregivers and educators, equipping our children to think well is a foundational part of discipleship. If you want to learn more about this curriculum you can click here.

The second resource is from Kids4Truth that focuses on teaching apologetics, biblical doctrine, and systematic theology to children. Available for pre-school aged children through 6th grade and comes with workbooks, teacher books, song books and other resources. These resources help children memorize God’s Word, understand what it means, and understand what they believe and why they believe it. If you would like to learn more about this curriculum you can click here.

Education Matters: Why Education Needs to be Part of Your Churches Ministry to the Next Generation

Education matters. That’s a phrase that just about every Christian agrees with. Education matters because it influences what children believe, who they become, the choices they make, the friends they choose, and demands thirty-five hours a week of a child’s time for eight months of the year.

Yet, you wouldn’t know this at most churches. Education is overlooked, under-valued and the topic is ignored with a fervor so as not to offend parents. To speak about education is equivalent to blasphemy in many churches. An elder from a church I pastored told me, “You are not allowed to talk about education.” The common sentiment is to respect all educational choice as there is no one right decision for all parents.

Nicole Fulgham, author of Schools in Crisis, embraces the idea that there is no Christian view on education. She states, “There is certainly not a monolithic viewpoint that represents the ‘Christian’ point of view on public education.”[1] Tim Challies shares a similar perspective, “I find myself grappling with this thought: What if God doesn’t care a whole lot about how we educate our children?…One thing I’ve never heard anyone suggest is that maybe it’s just not that big of a deal. And, honestly, I am beginning to learn that way.”[2]

What if Fulgham and Challies are wrong? What if God does care about how we educate our children? What if there is a biblical perspective on education? Wouldn’t it be good for parents to know this and for churches to address the topic?

What does the Bible say about education?

Many people believe the Bible has little or nothing to say about education because the term never appears in Scripture. We only find a single reference to the word school in Scripture, Samuel’s school of the prophets.[3] Despite this reality, the Bible has a lot to say about education. The Bible has many other ways of referring to education such as knowledge, teach, learn, instruct, think, and mind. Here is a sample of what Scripture says about education:

  • Knowledge: The core task of education is to lead a child from ignorance to knowledge. The Bible’s chief concern in education is the knowledge of God, which is contrasted with foolishness (Prov. 1:7). Apart from God, knowledge cannot be properly understood and foolishness abounds. The Bible provides guidance regarding how to navigate godless knowledge. We are told, “Have nothing to do with godless myths” (1 Tim. 4:7). “Avoid the irreverent babble and contradictions of what is falsely called ‘knowledge,’ for by professing it some have swerved from the faith” (1 Tim. 6:20-21). Knowledge is never neutral; it is for or against God. “We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Cor. 10:4-5).
  • Teach: The Hebrew language is rich in words that have to do with instruction; at least thirty-four root words imply the idea of teaching, and the words teach and teacher are used in the Bible over 350 times. Biblical education is focused on the task of teaching the knowledge of God and obedience to His law to the next generation. The Bible is prescriptive regarding what children are to be taught. Here is a sampling of what God commands:

    • God’s law. “Teach them [God’s laws] to your children and children’s children” (Deut. 4:9). “Teach them diligently to your children” (Deut. 6:7). “You shall teach them [God’s laws] to your children” (Deut. 11:9).

    • God’s work and character. “One generation shall commend your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts” (Ps. 145:4) “Tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his might, and the wonders that he has done…which he commanded our fathers to teach to their children…so that they set their hope in God and not forget the works of God” (Ps. 78:5-6).

    • God’s Word. “How from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings [the Bible], which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching…” (2 Tim. 3:15-16). “Command and teach them these things” (2 Tim. 4:11).

    • The fear of God. “Come, O children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord” (Ps. 34:11).

      • Learn: The words learn, learned, and learning appears in the Bible over 100 times. The Bible is concerned with what we learn. Christians are to learn to revere God (Duet. 14:23), to fear God (Deut. 31:12), to serve God (2 Chron. 12:8), what is good (Job 34:4; Titus 3:14), God’s righteous laws (Ps. 119:7), His decrees and commands (Ps. 119:71-73), prudence (Prov. 19:25), to do right (Is. 1:17), to control ones body (1 Thess. 4:4), to praise God (Ps. 89:15), wisdom (Prov. 30:3), the meaning and purpose of life (Eccl. 1:17), contentment (Phil. 4:11), and to learn the Gospel (2 Tim. 3:14-16). If God commands his followers to learn these things, doesn’t it make sense to choose to educate our children so that they learn these very truths?

      • Instruct: The Bible provides guidance about who is to instruct a child. Jesus states, “A student [disciple] when he is fully trained will be like his teacher” (Luke 6:40). The biblical principle to recognize is that teachers reproduce themselves in their students. Children absorb the beliefs, values, and views of the teacher. Biblically, parents are given the role of educating a child (Eph. 6:4).

      • Think: The Bible teaches “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he” (Prov. 23:7). What a child thinks about, he or she becomes. What does the Bible want us to think about? Here is how the Bible answers that question, “Meditate on God’s Word day and night” (Joshua 1:8). “Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things” (Phil. 4:8). Lastly, “Do not be conformed to the world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Rom. 12:1-2).

      The biblical vision for a child’s education is centered on and saturated with God’s Word, God’s laws, God’s works, God’s character, the fear of God, and godly living. Many parents believe the fallacy that they can obey these passages of Scripture by teaching their children at home on the evenings and weekends, despite sending their children to a school that teaches God is irrelevant, even non-existent, and instructs children in secular morality and unbiblical ideas. Individuals who do this, compartmentalize education in a way the Bible never does and fail to understand there is no distinction between faith and learning. When education is viewed as reading, writing, and math while discipleship is seen as character formation, spiritual disciplines, and sharing faith—we create a false dichotomy the Bible never does and provide our children with an education that is foreign to Scripture.

      Why Include Education in Your Ministry to the Next Generation?

      More than ever, Christians need to know what the Bible teaches about the education of children and put it into practice. Unfortunately, many Christians have adopted a cultural perspective for the purpose and practice of education. The Christian community needs a renewed biblical vision for the education of the next generation. The Bible reminds us that “Where there is no vision, the people perish” (Prov. 29:18). It is critical that Christians capture a biblical vision for a child’s education. Parents need guidance from church leaders how to think biblically about education. Here are five reasons to include education in your ministry to children and youth:

      1. A Biblical Mandate: We must begin with Scripture and ask what are the biblical principles about education. God has given clear guidance in the Bible what, who, why, and how to teach children. God commands us to teach children His laws, His character, and His Word (Deut. 4:9; Ps. 78:4-8; Eph. 6:4). According to the Bible, God did not give the government the role of educating children. Education is a parent’s responsibility, with the support of grandparents and the church. Parents are to instruct children in the Lord, teach them God’s laws, and train a child to apply God’s truth to life. Parents have the freedom to partner with others to educate a child, but must do so in accordance with the principles given in the Bible.

      2. The Incredible Impact: Education is a powerful influence in the life of children. Children will spend 16,000 hours at school between K-12, considerably more time than in church. If pastors are serious about shepherding a child’s heart, then education is a non-negotiable aspect of ministry to the next generation. Modern day public education has scores of secular presuppositions underneath it, which are not understood or recognized by the majority of Christian parents. The approach of trying to overlay Christian beliefs to humanistic education is not successful for the majority of parents, nor is it biblical. Pastors are shepherds called to not only feed the flock entrusted to their care, but also protect the flock from false doctrine and wolves that would destroy faith in Christ. 
      1. A Means of Evangelism and Discipleship: Biblically, education is discipleship. It shapes what a child believes and who a child becomes. Christian education plays a critical role proclaiming the gospel to children, immersing children in gospel truth, training children for gospel living, and sending out children to transform culture through the power of the gospel. Paul reminds us of the critical importance of the centrality of Scripture in the education of children, “From childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim. 3:15). When the church separated itself from the education of the next generation, it forfeited its position of influence in a child’s life and have steadily lost our children to the world in increasing numbers.

      2. Christ-Centered Relationships. Godly relationships with teachers and friends encourage wise choices, holy living, and obedience to God. God reminds us, “Bad company corrupts good character” (1 Cor. 15:33) and “The student is not above the teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like their teacher” (Luke 6:40).
      1. A Priority in Church History: There is a long list of Christian leaders in church history who have emphasized the importance of Christian education and believed it was a critical component of their mission and ministry. They believed the church and Christian school were united in ministry and mutually dependent upon one another. For example, “The great church reformers—Martin Luther, John Calvin, John Knox, Ulrich Zwingli, and others—gave as much energy to establishing Christian schools as they gave to reforming the church. To them Christian school education and church reform were inseparable allies. Neither, they believed, could succeed without the other.”[4] Martin Luther was a champion of Christian education. He states, “When schools prosper, the church remains righteous and her doctrine pure…Young pupils and students are the seed and source of the church. If we were dead, whence would come our successors. If not from the schools? For the sake of the church we must have and maintain Christian schools.”[5]

      Many Christians are uncertain why we educate a child, the purpose and goal of education, who is given the responsibility in Scripture, and how we are to accomplish the task. As a result, many Christians have unintentionally adopted an unbiblical view of education and take their educational cues from culture rather than Scripture. Pastors have an incredible opportunity to cast a biblical vision for the education of the next generation and help parent think biblically about a topic that is critically important to the evangelism and discipleship of the next generation. If you believe education matters, then it is time to prioritize it in your ministry to the next generation.

       

      [1] Nicole Baker Fulgham, Schools in Crisis: They Need Your Help (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2013), 27.

      [2] Tim Challies, https://www.challies.com/articles/what-if-god-doesnt-care-a-whole-lot-about-how-you-educate-your-children/

      [3] Samuel G. Kahn, A Short History of Christian Education (Jerusalem: Yesodot Publishers, 1960), 116.

      [4] Paul A. Kienel, A History of Christian School Education vol. 1 (Colorado Springs, CO: Purposeful Design Publications, 1998), xvi.

      [5] F.V.N. Painter, Luther on Education (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1889), 132-133.

Is Same-Sex Attraction a Sin?

“Is same-sex attraction a sin?” This question was asked by a pastor to a group of high school students as part of a talk on sexual identity. My son attends this group, and after inquiring what would be talked about, the pastor invited me to join the group for the evening, so I did. His talk needed much clarity, so for my sons sake and others, I decided to write this post. His premise was three-fold. First, homosexuality is a sin. Second, the Bible does not address same-sex attraction. And third, same-sex attraction is not a sin. Let’s look at each of these briefly.

Homosexuality is a Sin

The Bible is clear that homosexuality is a sin. Of course, making that statement is about as enjoyable as a doctor telling a patient she has cancer. And it is received with the same range of emotions. Some weep. Others rage. And we are seeing both occur when brave men and women state what the Bible says, that homosexuality is a sin. But in case you are new to the topic, Leviticus 18:22 states, “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination.” In the New Testament, the Apostle Paul identifies homosexuality as sin in Romans 1:26-27 and in 1 Timothy 1:10.

Homosexuality, according to Romans 1:21-25, is the consequence of another more serious problem, which is idolatry. Here is the problem in a nutshell: humans spurn the Creator, refusing to glorify God or give Him thanks and worship creation instead of the Creator. Paul tells us that when people exchange the glory of God for creation that they exchange the truthfulness of God for a lie. God gives humans over to their own selfish desires, one of which is the manifestation of homosexuality. God giving individuals over to the depravity of their lusts is, in part, His judgment upon someone. The point of Romans 1:21-25 is not primarily that same-sex temptation and acts are a perversion of God’s good design. This is, of course, a true principle that comes from this passage. However, the main point that we must understand is that homosexuality is God’s act of judgment for idolatry.

Most of us probably know a family member or friend who is actively living in homosexual sin. If we wish to help them, which we should, then what they need is not therapeutic counseling or kid glove coddling. Their soul is in danger of hell and we must treat them with compassion but also great concern. Romans 1 tells us that homosexuality isn’t the problem. Worship is. Homosexuality exists because the worship of God does not. So this tells us where we need to direct our efforts. If we want to see a homosexual person turn from his or her sin, then we need to help them see and savor the greatness of God and beauty of Christ. What is needed is heart change based on repentance of sin and a new affection for Christ. Sin withers only when the Gospel is brought to bear on it. Thomas Chalmers states,

“There is not one personal transformation in which the heart is left without an object of ultimate beauty and joy. The hearts desire for one particular object can be conquered, but its desire to have some object is unconquerable. The only way to disposes the old heart of an object of affection is by the expulsive power of a new one” (The Expulsive Power of a New Affection).

Sin can only be conquered when Jesus is savored as more beautiful and satisfying than the sin. The Gospel motivates us to say no to sin rather than, “I can sin because I will be forgiven later.” We hate sin because God died for it and because we know that God never lets us sin successfully. So the point here is that we must wholeheartedly recognize that homosexuality is a sin. But we must go deeper. We must see that it is a result of idolatry and deal with the root issue.

Same-Sex Attraction in the Bible

The pastor’s second premise was that the Bible does not deal with same-sex attraction. This is about as true as saying the Bible doesn’t have anything to say about education, grandparenting, or the Trinity. If we pull out our trusty concordance, we will find that these words are rather scarce, even absent from the Bible all together. The same is true of same-sex attraction. Should we assume that the Bible is silent on this subject? To make such an assumption is erroneous. The Bible has a lot to say about education, grandparenting, and the Trinity as well as many other subjects that we will not find by name in a concordance. The problem isn’t the silence of Scripture, the issue is an exegetical fallacy of presupposing our own category or terminology on Scripture, not finding it, and claiming it isn’t present.

This is much the same as me trying to locate my son in our home and asking the other children where I may find Frank. To which they would tell me that Frank doesn’t live at this house and would tell me to look elsewhere. But if I asked my children where I may find Jay, they could point me in the right direction, maybe even tell me what room he is in, because his name is Jay not Frank. We must know the Bible’s name or category for a particular topic in order to properly find it. If we misname it or miscategorize it, we will think the Bible is silent when in fact it is not. The Bible’s name for same-sex attraction is sexual temptation. Once we understand this, suddenly the Bible has a lot to say about same-sex attraction.

Same-Sex Attraction is a Temptation to be Fought

This brings us to the third point, that same-sex attraction is not sin. On the surface, this is a difficult subject to gain clarity about. But when we address this topic using biblical language, it clears up the fog considerably. Let us ask the question on the Bible’s terms. Is same-sex temptation a sin? Now we have a category from which to answer this question from Scripture.

There is a biblical category for being tempted without sinning. It is true to say that temptation itself is not sin. James 1:14-15 makes a distinction between temptation that leads to sin and the sin itself. The feelings of same-sex attraction are not always active sin, but it is a desire for something sinful, so we must take great care with how we navigate this topic.

In Matthew 5:27-28, Jesus equated lust with adultery. This establishes an important biblical principle: if it is a sin to do something, it is also a sin to desire to do that same thing. Any desire for something God has forbidden is sin. Because the Bible states that homosexuality is a sin, it is also sinful to desire to commit homosexual acts.

Same-sex attraction becomes sin if it turns into lust. Once the attraction turns into a desire to do something sexually that God forbids, it has become sin in the heart. It is not wrong to think another person is attractive, but where is the line between attraction becoming lust? Same-sex attraction is a desire for something God has forbidden, and as such, it should not become a fire that we feed or a friend that is courted, but a temptation that is fought.

John Piper has some insightful words on the matter of same-sex attraction: “It would be right to say that same-sex desires are sinful in the sense that they are disordered by sin and exist contrary to God’s revealed will. But to be caused by sin and rooted in sin does not make a sinful desire equal to sinning. Sinning is what happens when rebellion against God expresses itself through our disorders” (Let Marriage Be Held in Honor).

Same-sex attraction is best understood as a temptation that can easily become a sin. If a thought or desire is allowed to turn into something more, it becomes a lustful sin. So what should a person do when a momentary same-sex attraction pops into his head? The Bible tells us to “take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Cor. 10:5). Here we get to the crux of the matter. Individuals need to be taught how to battle temptation, not coddle it.

How is the believer to defeat temptation? What does the Bible tell us to do with sexual temptation? The Bible tells us to flee from sin, to fight for purity, and to saturate our mind on God’s Word, guarding it from impurity. In sharp contrast to the world, God calls His people to be pure (1 Thess. 4:3-7). The Bible tells us that the heart is the battleground to conquer sexual sin, including same-sex attraction. To achieve victory, the focus must be on the internal first and then the external. Fighting against sexual sin and temptation is constant and difficult, but it is a battle that every believer can win if they rely upon the resources that God provides such as meditation on Scripture, devotion to prayer, and fellowship with the church. Christians of all ages need biblical tools to fight temptation so that we are not sent into battle without any weapons. 

In addition, the Bible speaks regularly about the consequences of sexual sin. In fact, this is one of the biblical methods of encouraging young people to defeat sexual temptation. Young people can be reminded of the long lasting consequences of sexual sin, such as death (Prov. 7:22-27), loss of wealth (Prov. 5:10), lifelong regret (5:11-14), and shame and destruction (Prov. 6:32-35).

Same-sex attraction may come “natural” to some people, but we all “naturally” desire things that are sinful. The presence of these desires is not an excuse to allow them to take up residence in our heart or to act upon them. Is it right for a “naturally” angry person to allow feelings of bitterness in their heart? Is it right for a “naturally” greedy person to desire their neighbor’s possessions? Of course not. We have the responsibility to resist temptation and to fight these sinful desires and so does anyone who naturally has a same-sex attraction.

Getting rid of sin is like getting rid of weeds. If weeds are allowed to grow, they will take over. If they are cut off at the ground, they will keep growing back. If we want to kill weeds, we have to pull them up at the roots. This is what we must do with sin and this is what must happen with same-sex attraction. We cannot deal with sin on the surface. We must root it out. The great puritan preacher John Owens once wrote, “Be killing sin or it be killing you.” It is foolish to take sexual desires lightly, entertain them in our mind, or overestimate our ability to resist temptation. We must flee sinful desires and aggressively attack sin in our life. The same is to be true for those who struggle with same-sex attraction.

The Lord designed sex as a wonderful expression between a husband and wife, but those who use sex selfishly or apart from God’s good design will experience much heartache and ruin. Same-sex attraction is the result of a broken creation and for that reason is sinful. Same-sex attraction is not the same as sinning, but it should be treated like all temptation to sin. If you are a Christian and have sinned sexually, know that God has forgiven you based on what Christ has done on the cross. If sin is confessed, God is faithful to forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). May God empower us to have victory over sexual sin for His glory and our good.