Bishop J.C. Ryle says this about pain and suffering.
“It is all working together for your good. It tends to sanctify. It will keep you awake. It will make you humble. It will drive you nearer to the Lord Jesus Christ. It will wean you from the world. It will help to make you pray more. Above all, it will make you long for heaven. It will teach you to say with heart as well as lips, “Come, Lord Jesus. Thy kingdom come.” The warfare of the true child of God is as much a mark of grace as the inward peace which he enjoys. No cross, no crown! No conflict, no saving Christianity! “Blessed are ye,” said our Lord Jesus Christ, “when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.” If you are never persecuted for religion’s sake, and all men speak well of you, you may well doubt whether you belong to “the Church on the rock.” (Matt. v. 11; Luke vi. 26.)
Other posts in this series.
Don’t waste your Devotion
Don’t waste your Time
Here are the resources that I recommend that will help parents be more intentional about family worship and raising their kids to love and trust Jesus.
Leading and nurturing your family as you seek to glorify God and encourage spiritual growth in your home is both God’s command and your privilege. One of the best and most effective ways to do this is through intentional, worshipful, daily family devotions where the truths of God’s life-changing Word are openly discussed chapter by chapter. Hand in hand with your Bible, this Family Worship Bible Guide presents rich devotional thoughts on all 1,189 chapters in the Bible, including searching questions to promote conversation, to help you with this responsibility. Use this resource every day alongside Scripture to read each chapter’s major takeaways aloud and then discuss them with your family. With the Holy Spirit’s blessing, this book will transform you and your family!
THIS BOOK IS COMPRISED OF FAMILY WORSHIP THOUGHTS EXTRACTED FROM THE REFORMATION HERITAGE STUDY BIBLE.
In centuries past, the church used catechisms to teach foundational Christian doctrines. In today’s world of shifting beliefs, this communal practice of learning biblical truth via questions and answers is more needed than ever before.
Seeking to restore this ancient method of teaching to the regular life of the church, The New City Catechism Devotional is a gospel-centered, modern-day resource that not only summarizes important Christian beliefs through fifty-two questions and answers but also helps readers be transformed by those doctrines.
Each question features a relevant Scripture reading, a short prayer, and a devotional commentary written by contemporary pastors (including John Piper, Timothy Keller, and Kevin DeYoung) and historical figures (such as Augustine, John Calvin, Martin Luther, and many others). Designed for use in a variety of contexts, The New City Catechism Devotional is a valuable resource for helping believers learn and meditate on the doctrines that stand at the heart of the Christian faith.
Parents need easy first steps and clear next steps. They are busy the world is noisy so it is our job as those who pastor families to not add to the noise but bring clarity in the midst of the storm. One of the things that always amazes me about the story of Jesus asleep on the boat in the middle of the storm was he didn’t wake up and tell the disciples how to sail better He woke up and spoke to the storm. It can be very easy and very tempting for us as pastors to tell parents how to sail better and more effectively when really they need God to speak to their storm. Peace, be still. One way we can do that is to have easy first steps and clear next steps. This is something I am excited about working on for the families in our church.
Here are some of the questions that create storms in families that we are going to try to create simplicity and clarity around.
- How do I talk to my kids about sex?
- What is the gospel?
- Why do bad things happen?
- How do I do devotions with my family?
- What is a Catechism?
- Why do kids need systematic theology?
- What Bible should my kids read?
- What devotion books should we use?
Parents want to do the right next thing but don’t know what to do. We can’t force them to want to know what to do but we can be prepared for when parents reach out. Have a plan for a simple first step and a clear next step.
I recently read Jack’s book “Show Them Jesus” I so enjoyed it I asked Jack to guest post on my blog about how to teach the parts of the bible that are difficult. I hope you find it as helpful as I did.
Teaching the Bible’s Disturbing Stories
I’ve spent much of the past Sunday school year teaching through the book of Genesis for a class of elementary kids at my church. Just a few weeks into this class, I had a decision to make. The published curriculum I’m using as a rough guide had given me the expected lessons about creation and the sin of Adam and Eve, but it skipped the story that comes next in the Bible—where Cain murders his brother Abel.
I suspect the violent content had something to do with the publisher’s decision to skip that story. A bloody family killing does not feel kid-friendly.
But should I teach it anyway? On occasion, I too will decide it’s best to spare the youngest children from particularly rough stories or from certain details. I don’t enjoy shocking kids or telling them horrific tales. But usually, I’ll go ahead and teach most Bible stories—including the gory or sinful parts. And in the case of Cain and Abel, I hardly had to think about it. I knew I wanted to teach that story, and so I did.
During lesson time, I even drew a stick-figure picture of Cain standing over Abel’s body. Then I added some red smears for blood pooling on the ground. I was as gentle as I could be about it, soberly warning the kids that it was ugly and sad, but still, I drew that picture. It was important for them to see it.
So why, of all things, would I want kids to see that? I have three main reasons, each of which applies not only to Cain and Abel but also to many other Bible stories.
- It’s good to teach the Bible the way God has given it. If we poke around the Bible looking to use just the cheery parts, we end up skewing its message. We give kids the idea that the Bible is something like Aesop’s fables or after-school cartoons instead of the gritty, soaring, beautifully diverse message from God that it is. We also might miss key themes.
With the Cain and Abel story, I recognized it as part of the Bible’s foundational opening pages and the introduction of a critical theme: the contrast between a bad heart mastered by sin and a good heart devoted to God. I didn’t want to skip over that. I also noticed that the Bible specifically mentions Abel’s blood five times (in four different books). That made the blood a necessary part of my lesson if I was going to be true to the Bible’s own emphasis.
As a pastor one of the concerns I have surrounds what songs we sing in church and why we sing those songs in our churches. Most of the things we say about the songs we sing are founded in style. The songs we like or dislike is most often an issue of personal style. The problem with this way of approaching the songs we sing is we make the wrong things the major things. The songs we sing in church and in kids church can to often be based on the style preferences of the Sr. Pastor or Worship Pastor. There is nothing wrong with style but if what we sing and why we sing doesn’t transcend our own personal sense of style we limit the very purpose singing songs in church is intended to have.
I would like to offer this disclaimer. I have written very few worship songs. I do however pastor at a local church. I have been in the same church for 20 years and have seen the results of people and movements who based their lives on preference over substance. Given that here are my 4 questions that every worship song needs to answer.
1. Is it God directed – This is not a preference thing for me. If the song you are sing is more about you than the God who made you it’s not worship. It’s something else but not worship. The songs we need sing need to be filled with wording about who God is and what he has done. Is there songs of lament and petition in the bible? Yes. Those songs are based on an understanding of that everything begins and ends with God. It’s about what he’s doing more than how I’m feeling.