While I don’t agree with the ultimate assumptions Jobs makes about religion and faith in God I found much of his address to the graduating class of 2005 at Stanford University helpful. I hope you do as well.
How you can partner with parents to equip their children to defend their faith.
Hope always points to the resurrection of Jesus.
1 Peter 3:15-16
If we defend the faith with arrogance, we undercut the faith we are trying to defend.
Grace is at the essence of how God reveals his truth to us.
What’s essential to our faith is that I feel happy or feel better.
Parents aren’t passing on their faith to their kids in a way they can assimilate and articulate.
Students are unlikely to remain faith in a faith they are unable to defend.
Moralistic Therapeutic Deism.
Moralism – Doing right so my story will turn out better
Therapeutic – Faith is focused on my feelings and experiences
Deism – God is in the background; His purpose is to meet my needs.
1. Move from moralism to a better story. – A better story for your student seminar to provide parents with a plan and a vision as their children enter youth, group. – What we want our kids to see is to see their lives in the context of God’s story.
Creation, Fall, Redemption, New Creation
God made the world good, Sin made the world bad, Jesus broke the power of sin, God is coming to make the world new.
Star Wars – the best defense of teaching kids beyond what they can understand. Tell them a bigger story. Your kids may not understand the details they will learn to love the story even if they don’t understand the details because you are teaching them to love the big wonderful, beautiful story of God.
Everything has its place in God’s big story.
In light of Creation your child is a gift, In light of the fall your child is a sinner, In light of redemption your child is forgiven, In light of restoration your child is forever
A better story for your student seminar to provide parents with a plan and a vision as their children enter youth, group.
– When kids are sent to the youth program. Lay out the big story for their kids. – Focus on the cycle for parents.
How do we help our kids focus on forever rather than for success?
2. Move kids from Temporary Experiences to a Kingdom that never ends.
This post is part 2 of a message I spoke to our church on passing our faith to the next generation.
3. We must take care not to forget God. – Connect truth to life – When life is going well don’t forget that kids need the gospel more than they need a set of rules or instructions alone. Our grandkids need to know the story of our past of our church and our family, they need to understand Salvation belongs to the Lord. We must convey that Jesus is our Treasure and our great reward. He is our life and joy. – We must view our lives in light of God’s saving grace. We must remember who we were before God redeemed us. When our lives are full of the good things God gives us, and we forget that we are great sinners that were taken from slavery and made sons we walk in humble gratitude for such a great salvation.
12 then take care lest you forget the Lord, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. 13 It is the Lord your God you shall fear. Him you shall serve and by his name you shall swear.
Remembering the radical change that took place when we were redeemed keeps us humble. Humility makes us dependent, and dependence keeps us in touch with God’s power. This ensures that our life will be characterized by security and strength in the face of temptation.
Hughes Kent R.
4. We must serve God without conditions – Trust Jesus explicitly – Submit our desires and ambitions and read the scriptures with a view to obey them — don’t test God.
16 “You shall not put the Lord your God to the test, as you tested him at Massah. 17 You shall diligently keep the commandments of the Lord your God, and his testimonies and his statutes, which he has commanded you.
At Massah, Israel said if God loved us, If God were good he would give us water to drink. – To test is to consider a party guilty until he or she proves him or herself innocent. Guilty until proven innocent. It is the exact opposite of trust that says that someone is innocent until proven guilty. To “test the Lord” is to say basically, “I’ll follow you as long as my life is going the way it ought to go. I’ll follow you as long as I’m getting explanations and answers to all my questions. I’ll follow you as long as you prove yourself worthy.” We test God by needing explanation or forcing him to prove his love to us. I’ll serve you if… I will follow you if you help me understand why.
In over 18 years of ministry, I have come to understand that what I believe about God will be seen most clearly not in my life or the lives of my kids but in my grandkids.
What I believe about faith is passed on to the next generation who then passes it on to the next generation. We can’t pass everything on to our kids and even less to our grandkids but what they remember is what is most precious to us. What we value most they will catch. The failure to do this was seen in the lives of Israel in the book of Judges – The book of Judges is the perpetual cycle of commitment, complacency and then compromise.
Judges 2:10 – There arose another generation that did not remember the name of the Lord. – They forgot God.
10 And all that generation also were gathered to their fathers. And there arose another generation after them who did not know the Lord or the work that he had done for Israel.
Verses 10-11 describe a rebellion. It had two stages. First, the generation after Joshua’s “knew neither the Lord nor what he had done for Israel” (v 10). The word “knew” probably does not mean that they did not know about the Exodus, the Red Sea, the crossing of the Jordan, and the walls of Jericho falling, but rather that the saving acts of God were no longer precious or central to them. They had not learned to revere and rejoice in what God had done. In other words, they had forgotten the “gospel” that they were saved from slavery in Egypt and brought into the promised land by the gracious, mighty acts of God. Put simply, they forgot.
God knew his people would forget. He even had Israel place physical memorials to help them to remember. He knows that if we do not build into our lives through intentional means we will forget the gospel. If we don’t systematically and organically repeat the gospel to our kids, it will never become precious to them. That’s what the book of Judges painfully points out to us over and over again.
This painful pattern is illustrated most plainly at the end of Judges
Now there was a young man of Bethlehem in Judah, of the family of Judah, who was a Levite, and he sojourned there. 8 And the man departed from the town of Bethlehem in Judah to sojourn where he could find a place. And as he journeyed, he came to the hill-country of Ephraim to the house of Micah. 9 And Micah said to him, “Where do you come from?” And he said to him, “I am a Levite of Bethlehem in Judah, and I am going to sojourn where I may find a place.” 10 And Micah said to him, “Stay with me, and be to me fa father and a priest, and I will give you ten pieces of silver a year and a suit of clothes and your living.” And the Levite went in. 11 And the Levite was content to dwell with the man, and the young man became to him like one of his sons. 12 And Micah ordained the Levite, and the young man became his priest and was in the house of Micah. 13 Then Micah said, “Now I know that the Lord will prosper me because I have a Levite as priest.”
A priest of Israel leaves Israel and rents himself out to the highest bidder and becomes a priest in the home of a blaspheming idolator. This priest aids others in the worship of other gods. He gives Micah the false assurance that God is with him and will prosper him. This priest whose life was supposed to revolve around the temple helping people worship Yahweh. Instead his is working for an idolator and helping lead people away from Yahweh. He is aiding in the worship of Baal. Who was this priest that was misrepresenting Yahweh? Who was this priest who was aiding in Israel’s worship of false gods? He is named at the end of chapter 18. Jonathan, son of Gersham. Moses grandson.
This was Moses the guy who talked with God whose face was glowing because he had met with God. The thought that comes to my mind is that if Moses grandson can forget the gospel. How sure am I that my kids find the gospel precious? How sure are we that our churches youth find the gospel central to them? So the question I have been asking is how do we as parents and as members of a faith community pass on our faith to our kids and our grandkids?
What is interesting is that God knew this was going to happen to Israel, and he knows that we in 21st Century America have the same propensity. So in Deuteronomy 6, Moses farewell sermon he outlines for us how we hand our faith as parents to our kids and grandkids, how we had our faith as a community of believers to the next generation.
5 Ways to pass our faith to our grandchildren.
1. We must fear the Lord. – What you fear you worship. We can not have a proper understanding of the love of God divorced from the justice of God. On the Cross, the holiness and justice of God demanded payment for our sin. And it was at the cross that Christ in his love provided that payment for us. He gave His one and only son because he loved. If you don’t understand the justice of God and fear God, you will always abuse the love of God.
2 that you may fear the Lord your God, you and your son and your son’s son, by keeping all his statutes and his commandments, which I command you, all the days of your life, and that your days may be long.
2. We must Love the Lord. – Our love for God is measured by our passion and our devotion. With all our heart, soul and might are not lip service it is an all-consuming passion. A passion that results in practical evidence of a devoted life. – When we love him will our heart soul and mind we don’t compartmentalize our love for Him. When we fully love God, he is our greatest treasure.
Our love for God must inform every other love that we have. It must be the love that properly orients all our other loves.
5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 6 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.
Dr. Barrie Greiff is convinced that people’s stories are their most prized possessions.
The idea of creating a personal or spiritual legacy may feel too awkward to some people. But Dr. Greiff… counsels that bequeathing one’s spiritual legacy to future generations is as essential as leaving material objects.
The stories we tell contain the reality of our loves. They also reveal the source of our passions and joy. What kind of story are living? What kind of story are passing on?
My next post will continue with the last 3 ways we pass on faith to our grandkids.
There are no shortage of haters out there when it comes to reward systems and rewards models for kids churches. But for the past 7 years we have used a rewards system at our church called BibleBucks 2.0. It has been an amazing tool for us.
When do reward systems go bad?
- When they become the goal of what you do rather than a part of what you do.
- When we reward the wrong things.
- When we use rewards to supplement our lack of preparation.
- When we allow the teachers in the rooms to change what we reward weekly.