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.

How to Help a Child Understand and Defend Their Faith

You have helped train your children or grandchildren in the Christian faith. They are familiar with key Bible characters and stories, even memorized Scripture passages. You’ve explained the Gospel. They know that Jesus died on the cross for their sins and rose again. They have even had some significant experiences that have profoundly shaped them. They should be safe, right?

What will they do when someone makes a claim and provide “evidence” that the resurrection never happened? Or that the Bible is full of errors? Or that Christianity is guilty of horrible evils in history? Suddenly, “because mom or dad, grandma or grandpa said so” doesn’t work. Even as early as grade school, children are hearing other voices that seek to undermine everything that you and other spiritual authorities taught them.

Young people will not remain faithful to a faith they do not understand and cannot defend. In a post-Christian culture, it is more critical than ever for young people to know what they believe, why they believe it, and are prepared to defend themselves from attacks to their faith. Throughout church history this has been known as apologetics. Apologetics is the defense of the Christian faith. Peter states that Christians are to be prepared, “to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you” (1 Peter 3:15). A portion of Paul’s ministry included a defense of the Gospel, “I am appointed for a defense of the gospel” (Phil. 1:16). Apologists are individuals who defend Christian beliefs and practices against attacks, provide arguments for the truthfulness of Christianity over other worldviews, and refute unbiblical ideas or theories. The goal of apologetics is to persuade belief by presenting a rational basis for Christianity, to defend the truth by answering questions or the objections of unbelief, and to reveal the foolishness of false ideas so they do not capture the heart and mind of our children. Apologetics is an important aspect of your discipleship ministry to your children or grandchildren and can be divided into the following four categories:

  • Prove. Develop a case for Christianity utilizing biblical, scientific, historical, archeological, and personal testimony to establish the truthfulness of the Christian worldview. Show that Christianity is true, credible, reliable, and aligns with the real world. 

  • Defend. In every generation there are many attacks against Christianity and children need to be introduced to these distorted ideas, learn to test them against God’s Word, and be able to identify truth from error. The two primary areas of attack: The Son of God and the Word of God. 

  • Refute. Compare and contrast with other religions and belief systems to verify the Christian faith and dismantle false and erroneous views. Refute arguments made in support of different beliefs by showing they are unreliable, irrational, unverifiable, or simply do not make sense with what we see in real life.

  • Persuade. Work to clarify biblical truths, answer objections, address criticisms, provide answers and eliminate any intellectual difficulties that stand in the way of coming to faith in Christ. The goal is to encourage alignment with God’s Word, apply the truth of God’s Word to life, and establish a lifelong commitment to the Gospel. Apologetics is a partner of evangelism where we seek to convince children to accept truth claims about Christianity and trust Christ. Give your child every reason possible to embrace the Christian faith and reject counterfeit beliefs. 

7 Tips to help children understand and defend their faith:

  • Utilize questions to grow the faith of future generations. Your goal is twofold: become an askable parent or grandparent and become skilled at the art of asking good questions. Use questions to create serious spiritual dialogue, to encourage critical thinking, and discover what children believe.

  • Take objections from a child seriously. Do not mock an objection or dismiss a question. Spend as much time and energy as needed to fully explore a topic with a child. 

  • Anticipate attacks and arguments that a child will face in the teen and adult years. After teaching a biblical truth to a child or grandchild, present the faulty argument, prove why it is false, give reading material that establishes the truth, and continue to point out in conversation over the years the erroneous arguments. 

  • Built an apologetics library for each child. These make great gifts. Suggested books include Cold-Case Christianity by J. Warner Wallace, Tactics by Gregory Koukl, Answers Vol. 1-4 by Answers in Genesis, Quick Answers to Social Questions by Bryan Osborne, Demolishing Supposed Bible Contradictions by Ken Ham, Debunking Evolution by Daniel Biddle, True For You But Not For Me by Paul Copan, and The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel

  • Expose children to the truth in real life experiences. Allow older children to see a live ultrasound so they learn the horrors of abortion, or visit the creation museum to teach the truth of creation and then visit a natural history museum to show the error of evolution.

  • Look for examples of false beliefs or erroneous messages in movies, music, books, and television. Point them out, ask questions, and discuss why something is problematic. Always point back to Scripture so that it is not your opinion, but based on the authority of God’s Word.

  • Utilize the Truth Method. The truth method is intended to teach a biblical truth, identify a message from the world, and analyze it to determine the good and reject the bad using five steps.
    1. Teach a biblical truth through instruction and discussion. What biblical truths do your grandchildren need to be taught to stand strong in their faith?
    2. Recognize the idea or concept the world is communicating. What lies or half truths threaten their faith today?
    3. Understand the claim by analyzing it. What is actually being said?
    4. Test the idea according to the Bible. What does the Bible say about the topic?
    5. Hold fast to what is good and reject what is bad. What should be rejected and why?

Rise up parents and grandparents. The battle of ideas is real and it’s taking no prisoners. We are in a battle for the hearts and minds of our children and grandchildren. Helping a child detect errors and discern truth in the age of fake news, social media, and conspiracy theories is critical and you are uniquely positioned for such a time as this.

Quick Tips to Get Published

I regularly get asked questions about how to get published, so decided I would share one of my email responses from a question that was asked of me by an aspiring author. I don’t consider myself a publishing expert, but I’m experienced enough with the publishing world to share some advice from personal experience. If you are an aspiring author, here are a few quick tips to get published.

  • Publishing is slow, so patience is needed. A traditional publisher typically takes 12-24 months to get a book in print. Self-publishing can be half that time. My first book took a traditional publisher almost four years to get printed. Think marathon, not sprint when it comes to publishing. Don’t get discouraged by how long it can take to get a book in print.
  • Research who publishes books on your subject matter. Every publisher has their area of specialty and interest. Finding the right publisher is key. Pick up books that you’ve read and see who published them. When you’ve identified some publishers, visit their website and look at the titles of their books. The ideal publisher is one that publishes on your subject area, but does not have a book about the topic you are writing. 
  • Create a killer book proposal. This is your sales tool. It’s purpose is to get a book contract, so it is not the time to be bashful or cut corners. You are trying to persuade them to say “yes.” Give them every reason to do that. Answer the why question thoroughly (why the book is needed). Do your research on what is already in print and be honest. If you say, “Nothing exists on this topic,” you will need to back it up. Otherwise, publishers will know that you have not done your homework. Include as many endorsements in the book proposal as possible. Endorsements equal marketing and marketing equals sales. And for publishers, sales is the end game, so put time in to get a good list of endorsements. Develop a plan to sell copies of the book and communicate this clearly in the proposal. Books won’t sell themselves, so you will need to convince a publisher that you are going to actively work to sell a book. Many publishers have a template for a book proposal and it’s found on their website. If they provide one, follow it exactly. If not, you have the freedom to create your own.
  • Submit your book proposal to multiple publishers at the same time. Make sure to include some small and medium sized publishers. If you are not an established name, it’s difficult to get a contract from an A-list book publisher, so manage your expectations. If you submit to one publisher at a time, like many request, you may wait months for a response. If the proposal is rejected, the process begins with another publisher. If there are multiple rejections from multiple publishers, proposals submitted one by one, may result in a very long process.
  • While you are waiting for an answer from a traditional publisher, research self-publishing or hybrid options. This is not a bad route in today’s digital world. I self-published my first book and I told the individual I was working with, “I don’t want it to look self-published.” The book was so well done that it led to publishing offers from major publishers. Most of my books are published by a traditional publisher, but I have self-published a few books that I wanted to maintain ownership of the book or needed the material published on a quicker timeline. There are good reasons to consider self-publishing and there are good reasons to consider a traditional publisher. Explore both. 
  • Take marketing seriously. Publishing a book is not the finish line. It’s the starting point. Once a book is published, it must be marketed, especially if it is self-published, or no one will know it exists. Speaking opportunities, social media, and networking with other people are all helpful marketing avenues. If you’ve ever read a book and it wasn’t very good and wondered, “how did this get published,” it’s because they understood that publishers don’t always publish good writing. They publish what they think can sell. Convince a publisher that your writing can sell and you will get a contract. 

Publishing a book is an adventure. It takes determination and usually some thick skin, but it is worth it. Enjoy the journey!

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.

Discipling Children: 8 Biblical Practices Every Family Can Do. Handout for Mega Con

 

  1. __________________ ___________________
  • “Get wisdom, get insight” (Proverbs 4:5)
  • “Among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age…We impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual” (1 Cor. 2:6, 13).

What is wisdom?

Wisdom is _______________ _____ _____________. “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house upon the rock” (Matt. 7:24).

Wisdom also means _____________ _________ ___________ _____ ___________.

Why is wisdom important for a child?

The book of Proverbs provides three compelling reasons.

  1. Wisdom leads to ____________________________. “Happy is the man who finds wisdom” (Prov. 3:13)
  2. Wisdom is the path to ___________________________. “He who finds me finds life and obtains favor from the Lord” (Prov. 8:36)
  3. Wisdom is _________________________. (Prov. 16:16)

Key Tools

 

  1. ___________ ______ ____________ the Bible
  • “Teach these things to your children and children’s children” (Deut. 4:9)

The primary method to teach and disciple young people has been called ___________ _____________.

Consider a few practical thoughts:

  • Read ____________________________________
  • Read ____________________________________
  • Read ____________________________________

Your goal is to explain the Bible passage clearly and biblically, engage children in the process, and help them apply God’s truth to life.

Key Tools

 

  1. _______________ Telling
  • “Tell to the coming generation the glorious deeps of the Lord, and his might and the wonders he has done. He established a testimony in Jacob” (Ps. 78:4-5).
  • “Let this be recorded for a generation to come, so that a people yet to be created may praise the Lord” (Ps. 102:18).

Key Tools

 

  1. Sharing the ______________
  • Aim for __________ ______________.
  • Have a _____________________.
  • Learn to communicate the __________________.

Key tools

 

  1. __________________ ___________________
  • Your goal is two fold:
  • Examples from the Bible include:

Key Tools

Gather good questions.

  1. What made you sad or happy today?
  2. What was your favorite part of the day?
  3. What made you laugh this week?
  4. What are you looking forward to this week?
  5. What rule was the hardest to follow this week?
  6. What is your favorite color, hobby, city, smell, food, vacation, drink, game, sport, movie, show, music group?
  7. If you had a safe, what would you keep in it?
  8. If you could afford anything at this moment, what would you buy?
  9. What is one thing you love about your mother or father?
  10. What is the best adventure you’ve had with a friend?
  11. What are three characteristics you look for in a friend?
  12. What is an animal that best describes you?
  13. What is a lesson you’ve learned the hard way?
  14. What is a memory that makes you laugh?
  15. What is something that you are afraid of?
  16. What is a challenge that you are facing?
  17. What is a dream that you have for the future?
  18. If you could change anything in the world, what would it be?
  19. If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go?
  20. If you could be anything you wanted, what would you be?
  21. If you could ask God any question, what would you ask him?
  22. If you were stranded on an island, what three people do you want with you?
  23. What are you thinking about lately?
  24. What has influenced your thinking on this topic?
  25. How do you know that is true? What if you are wrong?

 

  1. __________________ ___________________
  • “talk of them when you sit in your house” (Deut. 6:7).

What makes these times valuable?

 

Key Tools

 

  1. _______________
  • Philippians 4:6, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”

 Key Tools

 

  1. _________________
  • Meaningful __________________.
  • Message of _______________ ______________.
  • Picture of a _______________ ______________.

How To Help Children Develop a Biblical Worldview Handout for Mega Con

 

Colossians 2:7-8 mindset, “As you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving. See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.”

 

Christianity                                                                                           Secular Humanism

God exists. He is the center of all things.

God does not exist. Man is the center of all things.

God created the world.

The universe came about by random chance. There is no designer.

God created humans in his image for a purpose. Humans exist to glorify God.

Humans exist for no ultimate purpose other than their own happiness.

Humanity is totally depraved and has rebelled against a perfect God.

Humanity is good.

Morality comes from God and is revealed in the Bible.

Morality is relative. There is no absolute standard of right and wrong.

Jesus is the way, truth, and life. Salvation comes by faith in Jesus.

Jesus is not God. Humanity has the power to save.

Death ushers us into eternal life or eternal death.

Death is the end of all existence.

 

Worldview is created when a persons answers four basic questions:

1.

2.

3. 

4. 

 

What is Biblical Worldview?

 

Biblical Worldview is:

 

Biblical Worldview in 4 Words:

 

  1. ________________ : God made the _____________ ___________ (Gen. 1:1).

 

  1. ________________ : Sin made the _________ _________ (Rom. 3:23; 8:20-22).

 

  1. ________________ : Jesus paid the __________ _____ __________ (John. 3:16).

 

  1. ________________ : God will make the ___________ _________ (Rev. 21:1-8).

 

Identity in Christ: How the Bible Answers the Question “Who Am I?”

“Who am I?”

Every young person asks themselves this question. It is the challenge of childhood and hunt of humanity to discover ones identity. Society shouts to our children, attempting to convince them that they can create their own identity through the clothes they wear, the car they drive, the cause they support, their tattoos, music, job, and the sexuality they embrace. As a result, identity can change with a new pair of clothes, a new accessory, or a proclamation of gender expression.

Children are told to explore and construct their own identity based on their preference. Due to the importance of this topic, every church, school and family should address it with children. This document will introduce you to identity in Christ so that we may achieve the goal of helping young people understand and live out a God-defined, Jesus-centered, and gospel-driven identity.

Identity is a clearly defined definition of self. For the Christian, identity formation is when a young person seeks to understand who he or she is in relationship to Jesus. Few young people know what the Bible says regarding their identity in Christ and, as a result, substitute an identity from society, peers, achievements or failures, or from family. When we do, an identity-crisis is bound to result.

A Case Study on Identity

The book of Daniel provides a case study regarding the enemy’s identity-forming tactics. Daniel was a young Israelite taken captive by King Nebuchadnezzar and transported to Babylon. The King used three methods to attempt to transform Daniel from a God-fearer to a Babylonian. Nebuchadnezzar targeted Daniel’s beliefs, desires, and identity.

  • Belief. Daniel and his companions were taught the literature and language of Babylon for three years. What we think matters. Education shapes. It forms. American society has changed its views on gender identity, marriage, and sexuality because the literature and media of America has shaped their thinking.
  • Desire. Nebuchadnezzar let his highly valued captives eat the best food available from the King’s table, which was the second tactic to transforming them into Babylonians. According to the book of Daniel, the King provided food that Israelites were prohibited from eating. American culture provides sexually appealing temptations to young people and encourages them to explore, enjoy, and embrace whatever they desire.

  • Identity. Part of the Babylonian strategy was to change the names of Daniel and his friends. Nebuchadnezzar changed Daniel’s Hebrew name, which meant “God is my judge” to a Babylonian name Belteshazzar, which meant “Bel has protected the king.” The obvious parallel in our time is homosexuality and transgenderism where young people are encouraged to embrace a new gender identity and even change their name.

Just like in the time of Daniel, our young people are encouraged to take on a false identity. Many young Israelites were assimilated to the Babylonian culture as they embraced the Babylonian teachings, ate the King’s food, and accepted their new identity. Only a small number, like Daniel, were able to remain faithful to God. Daniel rejected the cultural-shaping influences and did not waver in his faith. Daniel’s example is applicable for today as our children face the same tactics that seek to shape their identity. Thousands of years later the enemy is using the same methods and targeting what our children think, their appetites, and identity. Let us be aware of the identity-assimilation process that is occurring.

Identity in God’s Story, His Character, and His Son

The Christian is to live with a God-defined, Jesus-centered, gospel-driven identity. Any other source and any other identity is a false identity and will lead to a faulty way of living. Our ability to navigate all the messages of the world is tied to our understanding of who Christ is and who we are as a result. Only as we understand our life in God’s larger story of redemption will we begin to live God honoring lives as imitators of Jesus Christ. Who I am is rooted in three areas, only in the context of these themes will our identity make sense.

God’s Story

The Christian narrative, specifically salvation and judgment, establishes our identity in Christ as part of a new humanity. Those who come by faith to know the Lord Jesus Christ are incorporated into the life of the church as a foretaste of the fullness of life in Christ that will be fully known in the kingdom to come. The Bible describes our identity in straightforward terms – we are lost, dead in our sins, and the very enemies of God. But thanks be to God, we are not left there. The Gospel of Jesus Christ declares salvation and redemption to all who believe in Him.

  1. Creation: I am created. I am not god. I am dependent. I am not self-sufficient. I am human. I am not animal. I am created in God’s image. I am not created to be any other.

  2. Rebellion: I am sinful, corrupt, depraved, blind, and lost. I am not good by nature or spiritually alive. I crave glory that does not belong to me. I am not the center of reality. Sin makes us glory thieves. There is probably not a day that goes by where we do not plot to steal God’s glory in some manner. We don’t need help because of something we did or something that was done to us, but because of who we are. Sin is our hearts desire for something or someone other than Christ.
  3. Salvation: I am saved. I am not a child of wrath. I am a son of God. I am Satan’s enemy. Christ broke the power of sin over us (Rom. 6:1-14) but the presence of sin remains.

  4. Restoration: I will be made new. I will have a new home. I am not made for this world. I have a purpose in this life. I am God’s ambassador and His steward in this world, working for His good and glory in all that I do.

God’s Character

We receive our identity from God. It is the divine that defines. Who God is determines who I am. The way our children get their identity has everything to do with God and nothing to do with them. He called us out of darkness, He loves us, He possessed us, and He set us apart as holy by God (1 Peter 2:9-10). God gave us our identity by virtue of His irresistible call. Therefore, we cannot understand who we are until we understand who God is. When we finally realize that God is holy and I am not, that is when God’s identity becomes our identity through faith in Jesus Christ.

The Christian self is not defined in terms of who we are in and of ourselves. It’s defined in terms of what God does in us and the relationship He creates with us. Christians cannot talk about our identity without talking about the action of God in us, the relationship of God with us, and the purpose of God for us. Identity must be God-centered, not self-focused.

God’s Son

Identity is simply an understanding of myself in relation to Christ and living out this gospel-reality. This is why we can say that the most significant quest is to ground ourselves in the gospel and to teach our children to do the same. Our lives are either shaped by indulging the sinful nature or by abandoning ourselves to the sovereign grace of God. When identity is sought internally it leads to confusion, selfishness, and sinfulness. When identity is pursued externally in Christ, self is defined by another and rests on what Christ did and who He is, not on our accomplishments, preferences, or character.

There is much talk of self-identity and self-esteem. These notions must be rejected as these aspects of personhood can only exist apart from Christ. The only individual who needs self-identity is the person who has no identity in Christ. The apostle Paul reminds us “to live is Christ.” Identity is always rooted in Jesus and is Christ-centric not man-centric. Our identity is correctly captured when our gaze is fixed on Christ. Our self-focus and self-centeredness must be confronted at its roots.

What is the Purpose of Our identity?

Our identity is not an end in itself, but for the sake of service to the King (1 Peter 2:9-10). God made us who we are so that we might proclaim the glory of who He is. Our identity is for the sake of making known His identity. We are given our identity so that God can be seen in us. Therefore, being a Christian (our identity) and making God’s greatness known (our purpose) are closely tied to one another.

Who we are is for the sake of God. God made us who we are to show the world who He is. Ones identity in Christ radically redefines ones agenda, values, priorities, passions, and purposes in life. Ultimately, the Redeemer lived, died, and rose again so that we would no longer live for ourselves but for Him and His glory (2 Cor. 5:14-15).

6 Ideas to Help You Train Your Children to Worship Corporately

Over the course of the next few months, most families will return to church. If your church is anything like mine, it is going to look different for a while. Currently at my church, children’s classrooms are closed and all children must accompany parents into worship. If your children are new to corporate worship, here are a few suggestions that may be helpful as you train your children to worship corporately:

  1. Discuss worship expectations with your children. Jen and I use to tell our children that we expected them to be calm (because we have three boys who couldn’t sit still), quiet (because we children who do not understand what an indoor voice is), and pay attention. Three things. That’s all we needed them to remember. Calm. Quiet. Pay attention. Some of our children learned quickly. Others tested boundaries and needed loving guidance with a whisper in the ear, a squeeze on the thigh, or even an invitation to join me in the hallway to be reminded of expectations. Children who did well were praised generously. If children are brand new to corporate worship, expect that quick learners will do well after a few weeks and slow learners will take a few months.
  2. Provide tools not toys. We want children engaged, not occupied. It’s great that children are present, but our goal is their participation. Rather than bringing cars, coloring books, or legos bring a notebook, Bible, and pen. We encourage young children who cannot read to draw pictures of what they hear. Older children are expected to take notes and listen attentively. For accountability, we often have our children go down to the senior pastor and show him notes. We attend a church of 5,000 people, so this can happen in small or large churches.

  3. Teach your children the music you sing at church. We purchase songs that we sing at church and listen to them at home. It’s not forced, but informal. We play worship music while children eat breakfast or clean and in the process they begin to become familiar with the worship music. Guess what happens at church when they hear music they know and like? They sing! You can help your child by sitting in a child-friendly location so they can clearly see the front of the worship space. We allow our smaller children to stand on a chair when we stand to sing.
  4. Suckers! Our goal for children was always busy hands and quiet mouths. When the pastor began his sermon, we would pass out a sucker to each of our children. The sucker usually helped a child pay attention for about ten minutes. If a child was particularly squirmy, we would provide a second sucker or even a piece of gum. We would also strategically place the youngest children closest to a parent and the older children at the end.

  5. Say no to bathrooms and screens. We learned quickly that some of our children suddenly had to go to the bathroom and couldn’t hold it during the sermon. We made it a practice to encourage children to go to the bathroom before the worship service and only gave permission to use the bathroom in rare instances. We initiated the “Are you going to wet your pants?” test to determine if the bathroom was necessary. We also do not allow screens during the service, unless it is to access the Bible or use an app to take notes. As parents, we try to set a good example by not texting, using social media, looking at fantasy football scores (particularly hard for me during football season), or checking email. Our children learn the value and form of worship by watching us. We want the affection of our heart and the focus of our mind to be on worshipping Christ and; therefore, we try to eliminate all distractions.
  6. Ask questions on the ride home. Invite your children to share what they liked most about the sermon or a comment that stuck out to them. Sometimes our children will laugh about a funny story that was shared and this is fine! It means they were listening. Other times, children will ask a clarifying question about what a word or concept means. This is simply an opportunity for you to see how your children are processing the sermon and to see what really grabbed them.

Like learning anything, it takes time for young children to learn how to worship corporately. If worshipping as a family is new to you, just getting your children to sit quietly without embarrassing you or distracting others is a big win! As a father of five, I’ve been there. I’ve been given the evil eye as someone glanced over their shoulder at me due to a loud child. If that happens, just smile and don’t take it out on your child. Be gracious to yourself, your children and others who have children. This is a season where extra grace is required.

While we need an orderly worship service, the sounds of children are a sign of health for families and churches as it is a means to pass on faith to the next generation. If you are willing to do the hard work to teach and train your children to worship corporately, your children will reap the benefits of being part of the larger church body and learning to worship.

If you want to learn more about worshipping corporately as a family I encourage you to purchase the book Parenting in the Pew, which has many practical and helpful ideas. Truth78 created a children’s worship notebook that helps children follow along with a sermon and our children have found this resource helpful. Of course, if you haven’t purchased a Bible for your child, consider getting one so the child can bring it to church for worship. May the Lord bless you as you train a child to worship God!

Discipling Your Grandchildren is available now!

As a grandparent with a passion to impact your grandchildren for Christ, do you sometimes struggle to find fun and meaningful ways to disciple them and leave a lasting legacy of faith? Help is at hand in Discipling Your Grandchildren, which contains lots of suggestions and ideas to help you do just that. We wrote this book to help you apply the biblical methods of family discipleship from Deuteronomy 6 into everyday life by providing hundreds of ways to help grandchildren know, love, and serve Christ.

You can order Discipling Your Grandchildren here.

What Others are Saying

“Every one of the 30 million Christian grandparents in America should have a copy of this inspiring book in their homes. Every church should have it available in their library.” Valerie Bell, CEO Awana

“This is a treasure trove of ideas that will revolutionize how your grandparent and the impact you will have on your grandchildren.” Cavin Harper, Founder of The Christian Grandparent Network

“There is no more loving or sacred role than that of being a godly grandparent to the children entrusted to your family—this book shows you how!” Dr. Wess Stafford, President Emeritus, Compassion International

Overview of the Book

Discipling Grandchildren is organized around eleven topics that most grandparents experience with children and grandchildren. There are ninety-six different sections, with hundreds of ideas all designed to help you be an intentional disciple-making grandparent. Each chapter contains a list of ideas, concisely explained, often in bullet point format.

The ideas in this book are not random or purposeless. They are a means to a greater end. Of course, disconnected from the biblical purpose of discipleship, they become just another activity with a grandchild. We encourage you to read each idea with discipleship in mind and utilize them toward that end.

Table of Contents

  1. What Does the Bible Say About Grandparenting?

Five Characteristics of a Disciple-Making Grandparent

  1. Gifts, Encouragement, and Prayer

Gift Giving, 10 Graduation Gift Ideas, The Gift of a Bible, Connect Through Texts, Build Your Grandchild’s Library of Good Books, Books to Give and Enjoy Together, Giving Gifts of Experiences, Journaling Together, Praying for Each Other, 30 Scriptures to Pray for your Children and Grandchildren

  1. Intentional Meals

Long Distance Dinners, Bake a Simple Recipe Three Different Ways, Checklist for Successful Meal Times with Small Children, Practice Mealtime Manners with a Tea Party, Learn About Missions by Enjoying an Ethnic Dinner, Preparing Dinner with Bible Ingredients, Thanking Parents with a Dinner

  1. Teaching God’s Word and Telling God’s Work

Disciple Grandchildren Using a Good Book, Wonderful Things in God’s Word, Utilize Your Skills by Teaching What You Know, Participate in Education, Being a Good Friend, Teaching Biblical Manhood to Boys, Go on a Virtual Tour of Israel, Take Notes in Church, Participate in the Great Backyard Bird Count, Biblical Worldview Detector, Tell about Past Generations, Share Your Faith Story

  1. Reading and Memorizing the Bible

Check Out Unusual Verses, Make Magnets to Memorize a Verse, Use Objects to Memorize, Bible Character Biographies, Memorize the Books of the Bible, Summarize the Books of the Bible, Discuss the Sermon, Study the Bible Together, Take Photos to Illustrate a Verse

  1. Sharing the Gospel

EvangeCube, The Wordless Book, Romans Road, Share the Gospel Using Five Fingers and Five Verses, Dirty Water Experiment, Challenge Children to Think About Their Faith, Answer Hard Questions, Share Your Faith Story, Teach Children to Make Right Choices, Write a Psalm

  1. Serving Together

Get Involved in their Activities, Practical Service Opportunities, Develop a Talent or Skill Together, Take a mission trip together

  1. Relationship Building

Build Traditions Together, Make an Unfinished Photo Album, Send Unusual Mail, Celebrate the Start of a New School Year, Rubber Band Fight, Backyard Camping, Nerf Gun War, Family Fantasy Football League, Connect with Grandchildren via Social Media, Celebrate Major Milestones, Listening to Your Grandchildren, Visiting Great-Grandparents, Relating to Teens, Respect the Wishes of Non-Christian Parents

  1. For Your Home

Checklist for Successful Overnight Visits, Host Grandparent Camp, Welcoming Grandchildren into Your Home, Make and Use Prayer Cards, Honor Grandchildren in Your Home, Explore Your City, Stay Home Together, Write Notes while Visiting, Share Bedtime Stories from a Distance, 21 Activities With Grandchildren

  1. For Your Church

Launch a Grandparent Ministry, Participate in National Grandparents Day, Include Grandparents in Child Dedications, Participate in GrandCamp, Start a G@P group, Organize a Photo Scavenger Hunt

  1. Holidays

New Years Ideas, Valentine’s Day Ideas, St. Patrick’s Day Ideas, Easter Ideas, Ideas for the Spring, Memorial Day Ideas, Mother’s and Father’s Day Ideas, Ideas for Summer Vacation, Fourth of July Ideas, Ideas for Fall, Halloween Ideas, Thanksgiving Ideas, Christmas Ideas, Birthday Ideas, Ideas to Celebrate Spiritual Birthdays

Example from Chapter 1: 10 Graduation Gift Ideas

Be creative and share your faith heritage through your gift giving this graduation season. Above all, think memory with meaning. If possible, be there to celebrate with a grandchild in person.

1.     Personalized photography: frame a memorable event of the graduating grandchild, even better if you are in the photo together.

2.     Overnight bag: invite your grandchild can come see you, especially if he or she is going away to college.

3.     Heirloom jewelry: pass on a special piece to your college bound grandchild and write a note that it is a reminder that you are with him or her.

4.     An experience: purchase tickets around what interests your grandchild such as music or sports. Be creative. continue to make memories, even as they grow older.

5.     Talk time: ask your grandchild to teach you how to use Skype, Marco Polo, or Zoom so you can stay in communication. Choose the method that works best for you.

6.     Handwritten letter: tell them you love them, are there for them and you will be praying for them during this next season of life. You may want to include specific Scripture you will pray.

7.     Scrapbook of memories: create a book of photos and journal things you did together.

8.     Family memento: share its meaning, when you received it, and why you are passing it on to your grandchild.

9.     T-shirt quilt: order or make a quilt using a grandchild’s old t-shirts. You will need to collect a grandchild’s shirts from camp, school, and family trips. You can find a company online by googling t-shirt quilt. Send them the t-shirts and they do the rest.

  1. Gift cards for gas, restaurants, clothing or electronic stores where they shop.

During a Pandemic What a Child Needs Most is Hope in God

Hope is one of my favorite words. Hope is the promise of a great future. It is the confident expectation that all things will work out for us. Hope is full assurance in a certain future. Right now, it is easy to lose hope because the future appears uncertain and the outcome of the next few months are unknown.

I’ve had numerous people reach out to me and state, “I’m scared” or “I’m surprised I’ve been so anxious.” If we are honest, most of us have had moments of worry. Most of us face uncertainty in some form right now. We all have something to lose such as health, home, finances, a or a job. I’ve joked that my 401k is now a 201k. It can be hard to have hope when the rhythm and routine of our days has been interrupted and the future looks dark.

Let us remember that we have an enemy that wants to steal our hope, but God assures us in His Word that we have a great future. Christians are to be hopeful people because we trust in a good God. Our hope should radiate the brightest when the world is the darkest and the most important place this needs to happen is in your home. Hope manifests itself as joy (Rom. 12:12), love (Col. 1:4-5), boldness (2 Cor. 3:12), and perseverance (2 Thess. 1:3). 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 says that the foundation of our confident hope is the grace of God.

“Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word.”

Right now, all of us want comfort for our heart. I encourage you to take a moment of self-reflection and ask yourself this question: Where am I looking for comfort and hope? For many of us, we are looking to the wrong source. Psalm 42:5 is clear, “Hope in God!” This is the most important thing your child needs to hear during a pandemic, or for that matter, at any time. Everything may not turn out exactly how we envision and we may face temporary trials, but we can have unshakable confidence in a great future because we have a good God.

A Word About Fear

Anxiety and fear is the result of trusting in self or others. Fear is born out of a desire to control the future. We cannot control the future and that’s why we become anxious. The Bible lists many causes of fear, which are future-oriented. They are things we cannot control such as dread of disaster (Prov. 1:33), death (Heb. 2:15), physical attack (Gen. 32:11), natural disasters (Ps. 46:2-3), and evil (Ps. 23:4). Take time to read and discuss these passages with your child. Ask them if any of these examples are causes of fear in their heart.

Remind your children of the great truth of Isaiah 41:10, which states, “Do not fear.” This is a bold, strong command. There are no conditions that make fear acceptable, other than in God alone. It is important to note that if God commands us not to fear, then the presence of fear in our heart is sin. If we have been fearful during the pandemic, let us confess this sin to God. Why is it a sin to fear? Fear is the manifestation of unbelief in God. Will God keep His promises? Is God trustworthy? Is God good and gracious? The answer to all these questions is YES!

The biblical answer for fear is trust in God. As a family, open up God’s Word and read God’s solution for fear in these passages: Prov. 29:25 (trust in God), Ps. 56:4 (trust God), Is. 26:3 (Focus on God), Ps. 112:1, 7-8 (Fear God), Prov. 3:21-24 (Wisdom and obedience), Phil: 4:7-8 (prayer), and Ps. 55:5-8 (Take shelter in God).

Praying as a Family

Prayer is form of trust. In prayer we admit we are dependent upon God and we seek His care and His help. The best thing you can do with your family at this time is pray. During difficult times regular family prayer reorients our focus, reveals our dependence upon God, and reduces our fears. Prayer may not feel remarkable, but it is God’s answer in times of need. Philippians reminds us, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Prayer is not an extra, but an essential habit for our home. Our excuses for prayerlessness have been removed. We have time and our calendars are open. The Coronavirus may limit our ability to be physically present with our friends and extended family, but our prayers transcend time and geographic location and are an important form of ministering to others. In addition, the ministry of prayer is something that the youngest child can do. In Psalm 8:2 we are reminded that age does not limit the effectiveness of prayers, “Out of the mouth of babies and infants, you have established strength because of your foes, to still the enemy and the avenger.” God accomplishes his purposes through the prayers of the young and old.

So parents, pray. Gather your children and invite them to pray. What should you pray about? Let us pray with our children for God to heal those affected, provide wisdom for leaders making decisions, give peace to our heart, fill us with calm assurance in God, and for the gospel to advance.

Fill Your Child With Hope in God

The Bible tells us that we can be confident in God and can have full assurance in Him

because He has good plans for us. “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope” (Jer. 29:11). God has plans for each of his children and it is a good plan! No one can hinder those plans. Nothing can thwart those plans, not even the coronavirus.

Colossians 3:21 provides a specific command to fathers (but equally applies to mothers), “Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.” The goal of a good father is to raise children who are not discouraged. To be discouraged means to lose heart, become disinterested, or have an unmotivated resignation toward life. We are not to raise that kind of child. We are to raise the opposite of discouraged, which is hopeful, joyful, and confident.

If fathers are given a command to avoid one kind of parenting, then it implies we are to pursue a different kind. We are to pursue the kind of fathering that gives hope instead of discouragement and confidence instead of fear. So fathers, don’t discourage your child in this time of uncertainty, rather fill them with hope in God! Teach your child that they can rejoice in times of suffering, knowing that “suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope” in God (Rom. 5:3-4). Don’t discourage them. Teach them to hope in God. Help them fix their gaze on God, not on the uncertain circumstances that surround us.

The Coronavirus provides you the opportunity to talk about where we put our trust and where we look for hope. Use this opportunity to build up your child’s God-confidence. Work to root out self-confidence, government-confidence, money-confidence and replace it with God-confidence. Our hope is not in the government. Our hope is not in our money. Our hope is not in ourselves. We trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. One of the most common phrases in the Bible is the phrase, “Do not be afraid” and it is often followed with the words, “For I am with you.” Our confidence is in God, for He is with us. “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Ps. 46:1). He offers His help to us right now.

When the world is broken and all else fails, God will be there. We have a reason to hope. Our hope is rooted in the character of God. He is our refuge in time of need. The Coronavirus will pass. The days of social distancing and quarantine will come to an end. Not because an elected official out smarted the virus, but because God is sovereign and He is on the throne. God has not abdicated the world to sickness. He has not left the throne. God is in control. We are to put our trust in Him and Him alone.

Remind yourself of these biblical truths and teach them to your children. Let the promises of God’s Word and the unchanging character of God’s nature wash over your household at this time, “Great is the Lord, who delights in the welfare of his servant” (Ps. 35:27). Be glad in our good God today and filled with hope for tomorrow!