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Children are a “Gift from the Lord” – but do We Treat them as Such?

It’s a precious truth, often quoted: “Children are a “gift from the Lord.” (Ps. 127:3) And it’s most certainly true !

Unfortunately, there’s another aspect of truth that we must take to heart: instead of being filled with gratitude for these little image-bearers of God, there are many ways we can mishandle the gift.

Here are some common ones:

1. Make children the center of your life — a child-rearing idol

2. Make work the center of your life — an idol of vocation

3. Make anything but God the center of your life — modeling idolatry to your family

4. Be harsh/abusive with your children in words/actions — akin to hate… the seeds of murder

5. Fail to pray with and for your children — unbelief; modeling self-trust to them

Sadly, the list goes on. We could take a separate article to unpack each of those points alone!

Take heart – there is grace…

As we remember how the Gospel applies to us as children — that God treats us, his beloved and redeemed children and image-bearers with great delight and as his partners in the Gospel — we can repent and learn to love and see our children in new ways.

But this goes further. We also need to ask: might there be a systemic approach to “mishandling this gift” in our churches as well?

For instance: many churches, while rightly emphasizing growing and maturing in discipleship, practically assume a posture of “children should be seen (in the other room) and not heard.”

It’s really the adults, they say— the supposedly mature — that should do the work of ministry. One day children will grow up and participate in ministry too. At least, that’s the message that gets sent.

But think about it: was this the posture of the One who called little children to sit on his lap, and even used them as a kind of model that adults should imitate if they would enter the kingdom of God? (see Matt. 18:2–4)

A Radical Idea

No doubt, this statement of Jesus to “become like children” was radical to his hearers; a Greco-Roman culture would’ve surely interpreted it as absolutely backward  — even insulting.

But what Jesus meant by holding the child up as an ideal, as scholar D. A. Carson says, was not as a model of “… innocence, purity, or faith,” as we often think, “but of humility and unconcern for social status.”

In other words, as author Jared Kennedy puts it,

“Jesus wants his disciples to be childlike because young kids don’t pretend to have it all together. They poop and cry and get into things. Jesus wanted his team of disciples to see they were just as needy, and he wants us to see it as well.”

So there’s our starting place — neediness. It’s a call for us to empty our hands, instead of touting our record or living for another’s approval. You can’t receive a gift if your hands are full.

But what does this look like, practically?

Partners in Ministry

Kennedy suggests that we start by committing to “valuing children enough to build a relationship with them.” For example, learning their name is powerful, and communicates, “You’re part of this community” and “I was expecting you.”

Further, if we would nurture our children with the same grace we ourselves need, bible lessons must not degenerate into mere downloading of bible facts, or moral lessons that usually amount to: “be like David,” and “don’t be like Jonah.” As if David hadn’t committed adultery and murder along the way, and wasn’t in need of a Savior himself.

In other words, lessons should aim toward seeing the “gospel center” of the passage. Ultimately, we want to be asking, “how is Jesus our true hope?”

Blake Hardcastle summarizes this approach well when he writes,

“A church member doesn’t need seminary training or loads of experience with the Bible to practice these methods. Volunteers, with a little effort, can navigate the four questions:

1. Who in this story needs good news?

2. What is God doing for his people in this story?

3. How does God do the same for us-only better-in Jesus?

4. How does believing this good news change the way we live?

Answering these questions guides the teacher to the key truth of the Scripture passage [which is what we all need]. It will make an impact on young learners by constantly presenting Jesus as he’s revealed in the Word.

This approach is key to understanding and teaching the historical narrative genre which makes up a disproportionate amount of children’s curriculum. You can stop searching for the perfect lesson plans; use the ones you already have and apply Kennedy’s grid to convert them to gospel-centered lessons.”

So what about your church? Has your children’s ministry primarily become a babysitting sitting service, waiting for them to grow up? Or do you actually see them as engaged in ministry with you — right now? What does your website communicate about how you view and minister to kids?

These are important questions if we would model the love of Jesus to our kids.

Want to explore how you might embrace this important move from “child care to soul care?” You can find the article containing many of the above ideas here.

Truepath’s vision is to empower Christian organizations and businesses to take full advantage of their online presence by providing affordable and best-in-class applications and dedicated, live customer support. You can reach us at: (760) 480–8791.


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Seven Passages of Hope

“The resurrection is not a stupendous magic trick but an invasion…” – Timothy Keller

In Jesus, God has broken into time and space; the future into the present. As CS Lewis said, “a cleft has opened in the pitiless walls of the world.” Nothing will ever be the same.

As ambassadors declaring that “invasion” of love, we must always return to the well to be refreshed. Here are seven earth-shattering passages to read and meditate on this Easter, reminding us of our source of true life and hope.

May your love and ministry be fueled anew by the self-giving, death-defeating love of Jesus – the God who took on flesh to make “all things new”:

1. John 20:19–23

On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.”

2. Ephesians 2:4–7

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

3. Isaiah 53:11–12

Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities. Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong, because he poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors.

4. Genesis 22:9–14

When they came to the place of which God had told him, Abraham built the altar there and laid the wood in order and bound Isaac his son and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. Then Abraham reached out his hand and took the knife to slaughter his son. But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” He said, “Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him, for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.” And Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him was a ram, caught in a thicket by his horns. And Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son. So Abraham called the name of that place, “The Lord will provide”; as it is said to this day, “On the mount of the Lord it shall be provided.”

5. Romans 5:6–11

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

6. Romans 8:3

For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. 2 Corinthians 5:14–21

7. 2 Corinthians 5:14–21

For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised… Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

 

Truepath’s vision is to empower Christian organizations and businesses to take full advantage of their online presence by providing affordable and best-in-class applications and dedicated, live customer support. You can reach us at: (760) 480-8791.