Friday, December 15, 2017

An Open Letter To Parents Of Students:

Dear Parents,

You have been given, by God, an incredibly significant and beautiful role. You are the spiritual shield for your children.

Ephesians 6: 10-12

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”

We put on the armor of God, not so we might, maybe, eventually, make a stand against the devil but rather because as believers we already have a place, a spot in the army of God, and we must take our place. Not maybe, but definitively, because we have authority through the Holy Spirit to defend ourselves.

Luke 10:19

“I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you.”

Until one has accepted Jesus Christ and understands the battle around them, one cannot take their stand against the enemy’s schemes. More specifically, our children fall into this category. If your child has not accepted Christ they certainly fall into this category and are not equipped to extinguish the flaming arrows of the evil one. But, even if they have, they are still under your authority, as parents, you are the authority in the household – and the enemy does not play by the rules, the only thing he does do is respect authority (Acts 19:15). He will not leave our children alone simply because they are young. No, the arrows will fly at them.

One place in particular, as parents, you must take in this battle is to be a shield of faith that covers our little ones from the flaming arrows of the evil one.

Ephesians 6:16

“In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.”

Our shield of faith, which can be applied through prayer and intercession on behalf of our children – it can extinguish the flaming arrows of the evil one that are aimed at our children.

You have a place in God’s army, you have authority over the enemy, you have armor that protects, and extinguishes (Eph 6). You have been given authority over your homes, your families, as protectors of your families, and guidance to the cross of Christ. (1 Tim 3:1-5, 1 Tim 5:8, Eph 5:23, Pr 22:6).

Christ has authority even over us, so ultimately it is in communicating with Him that we know how and when to take our stand. This does not mean if we pray, nothing bad will happen. We are wheat being choked by the weeds (Mathew 13: 24-30)– we will always have hardship, and evil in this world, but we also have the Kingdom of God within us, which means sometimes, despite the evil around us, we will see His glory revealed, His freedom accessed, His deliverance experienced, and His restoration attained.

We love your children, and we hope this brings you great courage and joy, that you are not empty handed, you do not have to sit back and watch, you are equipped with the armor of God, you can take your stand.

Ephesians 6:13b-14a

…and having done all to stand firm. Stand, therefore.

Many Blessings in Christ Jesus,

Your Youth Leader

The Most Controversial Claim Jesus Made:

Of all the controversial claims Jesus made, one may be more incendiary in our day than all the rest: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). In our pluralistic age, these feel like little more than fighting words. But have we missed their full meaning in the fires of the current controversies?

What’s surprising to those who would take the time to investigate more is that this claim first appears not in the public square or at a debate or showdown with religious rivals. Rather, it’s a private dialogue, in an intimate gathering, with Jesus’s closest of friends.

Comfort in the Chaos
His disciples are fearful, perhaps even beginning to panic. One of their own number has just left as a traitor (John 13:21–30). Then Jesus has announced that he himself will be leaving them for good (John 13:33). Now he informs them that Peter, chief among them, will deny him three times (John 13:38). Into this confusion and emerging fear, Jesus speaks a consoling word in John 14:1–4.

The banner over all that follows is verse 1: “Let not your hearts be troubled” (also John 14:27). Jesus as “the way” is first about the comfort and peace and assurance of his followers. These are not first fighting words, but soul-quieting, heart-feeding truth. Comfort first, not controversy.

Jesus is moving his disciples from troubled to trusting. “Let not your hearts be troubled.” That’s the negative. Then the positive: “Believe in God; believe also in me.” What is the great antidote he gives to being troubled, or being anxious or fearful? Faith.

And trusting Jesus is still the great antidote for fear today. But not just general trust. We need specifics — which he then provides. We could count them in different ways, but here are four.

1. God has a big house — and a big heart.
The heart of what Jesus says he will re-express in John 16:7: “it is to your advantage that I go away.” But first, he describes the wideness of his Father’s provision. His house is not small.

“In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?” (John 14:2)

God’s house does not have only a few rooms, but many — not despite the Father’s heart, but as an expression of it. That his house has many rooms says something about who he is. And that he can be trusted even in the present trouble.

And these are not just rooms in general, this is not just mercy in general, but room “for you,” mercy “for you.” Jesus goes “to prepare a place for you.” Do not be troubled; you will be in God’s house! I may be leaving, Jesus says, but I am going to secure for you the most important good imaginable — so good that it dwarfs every one of your fears, if you only had the eyes to see it and heart to feel it.

2. Jesus will take you there.
Jesus has more details to give, and specific promises to make:

“And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.” (John 14:3–4)

Not only is the Father’s heart and house for his chosen people, but Jesus himself will come back and take us to himself. He won’t sit around waiting for disciples to get to God on their own; he will come back and get them and bring them himself. And there is more.

3. Jesus himself will be there.
Maybe the two sweetest words in the passage are here: to myself. “I will come again and will take you to myself.” This is the great consolation to troubled disciples. Jesus won’t just get them to heaven, but he himself will be there. And the essence of that place will be communing with him: “. . . that where I am you may be also.”

Here we find a shift from place to person. Not only is Jesus heading to heaven, to his Father’s house, and not only will he himself come get his disciples and bring them there, but heaven itself for the disciples will be about knowing and enjoying Jesus. He will be there with us.

But Jesus doesn’t go directly from this upper-room conversation to heaven. There is a pathway to walk.

4. Jesus has prepared the place for you.
Twice Jesus says, “I go to prepare a place for you” (John 14:2, 3). What does it mean that he “prepares” a place for his people? Is heaven in disarray? Is God’s house in shambles, and Jesus will be the renovator?

There is a second “way” in this passage: not for us, but for Jesus alone. And it’s inimitable and utterly unique to him. Where he goes next, after this upper-room conversation, is not first to heaven, but to death. “The way to where I am going” (John 14:4) is the way of the cross. Without Jesus taking this way (on our behalf), there is no way for us (to his Father).

“Preparing a place” doesn’t mean construction in heaven, but crucifixion on earth.

Jesus Will Be Enough
What comfort, then, do we find in confessing Jesus as “the way”? What communion with him do we find in this truth for which we’re often called to contend?

In John 14, Jesus speaks to his disciples in their confusion. In their uncertainty. In their anxiety and fears. And he comforts them by saying, in essence, “I will be enough for you.” You know the way already, because you know me. I am the way. I will be sufficient for you. You don’t need to look elsewhere; you don’t need to supplement me with anything else.

You’re disoriented, and I am the way.
You’re confused, and I am the truth.
You’re fearful, and I am the life.

Knowing me is enough, and will be enough, he says. Your search can end with me.

His Glory, Our Joy
Jesus gets the glory of being “the way,” (not “a way”), “the truth” (not just true), and “the life” (not just life), and as he does, we get the joy and peace and stability of having such a Lord and Savior and Treasure. “The way” is not centrally belief in certain principles and execution of particular actions, but trusting and treasuring a living person. At the heart of Christianity is not pillars to follow, but a person to know and enjoy.

Jesus is the way. By all means, contend for this precious truth in the classroom, over coffee, and on the street, but don’t miss its sweetness first in the depths of your own soul.

6 Things Jesus Does With Your Sin:

It is good to remember what the cross accomplishes.

Here are six things Jesus does with sin:

1. He Condemns It.

Jesus puts a curse on sin. He marks its forehead.

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.”

Jesus says to sin in no uncertain terms, “Sin, you’re going to die.”

2. He Carries It.

Like the true and better scapegoat, Jesus becomes our sin-bearer.

1 Peter 2:24 – “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.”

2 Corinthians 5:21 – “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

3. He Cancels It.

He closes out the account. (Even better, he opens a new one, where we’re always in the black, having been credited with his perfect righteousness.)

1 Corinthians 13:4-5 – “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful”

That word resentful is more directly “to count up wrongdoing,” which is why some translations of this text say, “Love keeps no record of wrongs.”

Colossians 2:13-14 – “And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.”

That last proclamation leads us into this great truth:

4. He Crucifies It.

1 Peter 3:18 – “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit.”

At the cross, Jesus dies and takes our sin with him. Only, the sin stays dead.

5. He Casts It Away.

Jesus takes the corpse and chucks it into the void.

Micah 7:19 – “He will again have compassion on us; he will tread our iniquities underfoot. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.”

Psalm 103:12 – “as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.”

6. He Chooses to Un-remember It.

Jesus is omniscient. He is not forgetful. But he wills to un-remember our sin.

Jeremiah 31:34 – “And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”

Hebrews 8:12 – “For I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more.”

Hebrews 10:17 – “I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.”

Astonishing. We bring our sin to him, repentant and in faithful confession, and he says, “What’re you talking about?”

This is how Jesus forgives sin: He condemns it, carries it, cancels it, kills it, casts it, and clean forgets it. If we’ll confess it.

1 John 1:9 – “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

8 Beliefs You Should Know About Mormons:

1. APOSTASY AND RESTORATION 
Mormons claim that “total” apostasy overcame the church following apostolic times, and that the Mormon Church (founded in 1830) is the “restored church.”

If the Mormon Church were truly a “restored church,” however, one would expect to find first-century historical evidence for Mormon doctrines like the plurality of gods and God the Father having once been a man. Such evidence is completely lacking.

Besides, the Bible disallows a total apostasy of the church (e.g., Matt. 16:18; 28:20; Eph. 3:21; 4:11-16), warning instead of partial apostasy (1 Tim. 4:1).

2. GOD
Mormons claim that God the Father was once a man and that he then progressed to godhood (that is, he is a now-exalted, immortal man with a flesh-and-bone body).

However, based on the Bible, God is not and has never been a man (Num. 23:19; Hos. 11:9). He is a spirit (John 4:24), and a spirit does not have flesh and bones (Luke 24:39).

Furthermore, God is eternal (Ps. 90:2; 102:27; Isa. 57:15; 1 Tim. 1:17) and immutable (or unchangeable in his being and perfections; see Ps. 102:25-27; Mal. 3:6). He did not “progress” toward godhood, but has always been God.

3. POLYTHEISM
Mormons believe that the Trinity consists not of three persons in one God but rather of three distinct gods. According to Mormonism, there are potentially many thousands of gods besides these.

However, trusting in or worshiping more than one god is explicitly condemned throughout the Bible (e.g., Ex. 20:3).

There is only one true God (Deut. 4:35, 39; 6:4; Isa. 43:10; 44:6, 8; 45:18; 46:9; 1 Cor. 8:4; James 2:19), who exists eternally in three persons—the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit (Matt. 28:19; 2 Cor. 13:14).

4. EXALTATION OF HUMANS
Mormons believe that humans, like God the Father, can go through a process of exaltation to godhood.

But the Bible teaches that the yearning to be godlike led to the fall of mankind (Gen. 3:4ff.). God does not look kindly on humans who pretend to attain to deity (Acts 12:21-23; contrast Acts 14:11-15). God desires humans to humbly recognize that they are his creatures (Gen. 2:7; 5:2; Ps. 95:6-7; 100:3). The state of the redeemed in eternity will be one of glorious immortality, but they will forever remain God’s creatures, adopted as his children (Rom. 8:14-30; 1 Cor. 15:42-57; Rev. 21:3-7). Believers will never become gods.

5. JESUS CHRIST
Mormons believe that Jesus Christ was the firstborn spirit-child of the heavenly Father and a heavenly Mother.

Jesus then progressed to deity in the spirit world.

He was later physically conceived in Mary’s womb, as the literal “only begotten” Son of God the Father in the flesh (though many present-day Mormons remain somewhat vague as to how this occurred).

Biblically, however, the description of Jesus as the “only begotten” refers to his being the Father’s unique, one-of-a-kind Son for all eternity, with the same divine nature as the Father (see note on John 1:14; cf. John 1:18; 3:16, 18; see also John 5:18; 10:30).

Moreover, he is eternal deity (John 1:1; 8:58) and is immutable (Heb. 1:10-12; 13:8), meaning he did not progress to deity but has always been God.

And Mary’s conception of Jesus in his humanity was through a miracle of the Holy Spirit (Matt. 1:20).

6. THREE KINGDOMS
Mormons believe that most people will end up in one of three kingdoms of glory, depending on one’s level of faithfulness. Belief in Christ, or even in God, is not necessary to obtain immortality in one of these three kingdoms, and therefore only the most spiritually perverse will go to hell.

But the Bible teaches that people have just two possibilities for their eternal futures: the saved will enjoy eternal life with God in the new heavens and new earth (Phil. 3:20; Rev. 21:1-4; 22:1-5), while the unsaved will spend eternity in hell (Matt. 25:41, 46; Rev. 20:13-15).

7. SIN AND ATONEMENT
Mormons believe that Adam’s transgression was a noble act that made it possible for humans to become mortal, a necessary step on the path to exaltation to godhood.

They think that Christ’s atonement secures immortality for virtually all people, whether they repent and believe or not.

Biblically, however, there was nothing noble about Adam’s sin, which was not a stepping-stone to godhood but rather brought nothing but sin, misery, and death to mankind (Gen. 3:16-19; Rom. 5:12-14). Jesus atoned for the sins of all who would trust him for salvation (Isa. 53:6; John 1:29; 2 Cor. 5:21; 1 Pet. 2:24; 3:18; 1 John 2:2; 4:10).

8. SALVATION
Mormons believe that God gives to (virtually) everyone a general salvation to immortal life in one of the heavenly kingdoms, which is how they understand salvation by grace. Belief in Christ is necessary only to obtain passage to the highest, celestial kingdom—for which not only faith but participation in Mormon temple rituals and obedience to its “laws of the gospel” are also prerequisites.

Biblically, however, salvation by grace must be received through faith in Christ (John 3:15-16; 11:25; 12:46; Acts 16:31; Rom. 3:22-24; Eph. 2:8-9), and all true believers are promised eternal life in God’s presence (Matt. 5:3-8; John 14:1-3; Rev. 21:3-7).

11 Beliefs You Should Know About Jehovah Witnesses:

11 Beliefs You Should Know About Jehovah Witnesses:

1. THE DIVINE NAME.
Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that God’s one true name—the name by which he must be identified—is Jehovah.

Biblically, however, God is identified by many names, including:

God (Hb. ‘elohim; Gen. 1:1),
God Almighty (Hb. ‘El Shadday; Gen. 17:1),
Lord (Hb. ‘Adonay; Ps. 8:1), and
Lord of hosts (Hb. yhwh tseba’ot; 1 Sam. 1:3).
In NT times, Jesus referred to God as “Father” (Gk. Patēr; Matt. 6:9), as did the apostles (1 Cor. 1:3).

2. THE TRINITY.
Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that the Trinity is unbiblical because the word is not in the Bible and because the Bible emphasizes that there is one God.

Biblically, while it is true that there is only one God (Isa. 44:6; 45:18; 46:9; John 5:44; 1 Cor. 8:4; James 2:19), it is also true that three persons are called God in Scripture:

the Father (1 Pet. 1:2),
Jesus (John 20:28; Heb. 1:8), and
the Holy Spirit (Acts 5:3-4).
Each of these three possesses the attributes of deity—including

omnipresence (Ps. 139:7; Jer. 23:23-24; Matt. 28:20),
omniscience (Ps. 147:5; John 16:30; 1 Cor. 2:10-11),
omnipotence (Jer. 32:17; John 2:1-11; Rom. 15:19), and
eternality (Ps. 90:2; Heb. 9:14; Rev. 22:13).
Still further, each of the three is involved in doing the works of deity—such as creating the universe:

the Father (Gen. 1:1; Ps. 102:25),
the Son (John 1:3; Col. 1:16; Heb. 1:2), and
the Holy Spirit (Gen. 1:2; Job 33:4; Ps. 104:30).
The Bible indicates that there is three-in-oneness in the godhead (Matt. 28:19; cf. 2 Cor. 13:14).

Thus doctrinal support for the Trinity is compellingly strong.

3. JESUS CHRIST.
Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that Jesus was created by Jehovah as the archangel Michael before the physical world existed, and is a lesser, though mighty, god.

Biblically, however, Jesus is eternally God (John 1:1; 8:58; cf. Ex. 3:14) and has the exact same divine nature as the Father (John 5:18; 10:30; Heb. 1:3).

Indeed, a comparison of the OT and NT equates Jesus with Jehovah (compare Isa. 43:11 with Titus 2:13; Isa. 44:24 with Col. 1:16; Isa. 6:1-5 with John 12:41).

Jesus himself created the angels (Col. 1:16; cf. John 1:3; Heb. 1:2, 10) and is worshiped by them (Heb. 1:6).

4. THE INCARNATION.
Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that when Jesus was born on earth, he was a mere human and not God in human flesh.

This violates the biblical teaching that in the incarnate Jesus, “the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily” (Col. 2:9; cf. Phil. 2:6-7).

The word for “fullness” (Gk. plērōma) carries the idea of the sum total. “Deity” (Gk. theotēs) refers to the nature, being, and attributes of God.

Therefore, the incarnate Jesus was the sum total of the nature, being, and attributes of God in bodily form.

Indeed, Jesus was Immanuel, or “God with us” (Matt. 1:23; cf. Isa. 7:14; John 1:1, 14, 18; 10:30; 14:9-10).

5. RESURRECTION.
Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that Jesus was resurrected spiritually from the dead, but not physically.

Biblically, however, the resurrected Jesus asserted that he was not merely a spirit but had a flesh-and-bone body (Luke 24:39; cf. John 2:19-21).

He ate food on several occasions, thereby proving that he had a genuine physical body after the resurrection (Luke 24:30, 42-43; John 21:12-13).

This was confirmed by his followers who physically touched him (Matt. 28:9; John 20:17).

6. THE SECOND COMING.
Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that the second coming was an invisible, spiritual event that occurred in the year 1914.

Biblically, however, the yet-future second coming will be physical, visible (Acts 1:9-11; cf. Titus 2:13), and will be accompanied by visible cosmic disturbances (Matt. 24:29-30). Every eye will see him (Rev. 1:7).

7. THE HOLY SPIRIT.
Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that the Holy Spirit is an impersonal force of God and not a distinct person.

Biblically, however, the Holy Spirit has the three primary attributes of personality:

a mind (Rom. 8:27),
emotions (Eph. 4:30), and
will (1 Cor. 12:11).
Moreover, personal pronouns are used of him (Acts 13:2). Also, he does things that only a person can do, including:

teaching (John 14:26),
testifying (John 15:26),
commissioning (Acts 13:4),
issuing commands (Acts 8:29), and
interceding (Rom. 8:26).
The Holy Spirit is the third person of the Trinity (Matt. 28:19).

8. SALVATION.
Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that salvation requires faith in Christ, association with God’s organization (i.e., their religion), and obedience to its rules.

Biblically, however, viewing obedience to rules as a requirement for salvation nullifies the gospel (Gal. 2:16-21; Col. 2:20-23). Salvation is based wholly on God’s unmerited favor (grace), not on the believer’s performance.

Good works are the fruit or result, not the basis, of salvation (Eph. 2:8-10; Titus 3:4-8).

9. TWO REDEEMED PEOPLES.
Jehovah’s Witnesses believe there are two peoples of God: (1) the Anointed Class (144,000) will live in heaven and rule with Christ; and (2) the “other sheep” (all other believers) will live forever on a paradise earth.

Biblically, however, a heavenly destiny awaits all who believe in Christ (John 14:1-3; 17:24; 2 Cor. 5:1; Phil. 3:20; Col. 1:5; 1 Thess. 4:17; Heb. 3:1), and these same people will also dwell on the new earth (2 Pet. 3:13; Rev. 21:1-4).

10. NO IMMATERIAL SOUL.
Jehovah’s Witnesses do not believe that humans have an immaterial nature. The “soul” is simply the life-force within a person. At death, that life-force leaves the body.

Biblically, however, the word “soul” is multifaceted. One key meaning of the term is man’s immaterial self that consciously survives death (Gen. 35:18; Rev. 6:9-10). Unbelievers are in conscious woe (Matt. 13:42; 25:41, 46; Luke 16:22-24; Rev. 14:11) while believers are in conscious bliss in heaven (1 Cor. 2:9; 2 Cor. 5:6-8; Phil. 1:21-23; Rev. 7:17; 21:4).

11. HELL.
Jehovah’s Witnesses believe hell is not a place of eternal suffering but is rather the common grave of humankind. The wicked are annihilated—snuffed out of conscious existence forever.

Biblically, however, hell is a real place of conscious, eternal suffering (Matt. 5:22; 25:41, 46; Jude 7; Rev. 14:11; 20:10, 14).

By: Justin Taylor

6 Keys To Family Devotions In 2018:

I’m a father of two young kids with another on the way. I can’t think of many things more important for them in 2018 than regular exposure to the living Word of God. If you’re a Christian parent of young children, I assume you share the same conviction: Your kids need to hear from God, and you long for them to listen carefully to his good Word.

But it’s hard. Life is busy, kids are lively, and reading the Bible often struggles to compete with the Disney channel, Legos, and the newest phone app.

Here are six tips my wife and I have found helpful in our rhythm of Bible reading with our young kids.

1. PICK A REGULAR TIME AND PLACE FOR BIBLE READING. 
In general, children tend to love a routine—a regular, anticipated time with Mom and/or Dad associated with a particular activity. Sporadic and random Bible reading may not engage your children in the same way a regular, planned, prioritized “special” time will.

In our home, we’ve chosen the chunk of time before bed for Bible reading. Our children know that, in the 15 to 20 minutes before bed, we’re going to gather in their room to read a Bible story, discuss it together, and pray. They’ve come to look forward to it, and it’s become as regular and natural a process as brushing their teeth. It may even help them sleep better, as many bedtime routines seem to.

2. READ SHORT CHUNKS. 
Some of us will have to guard against being overly ambitious in the beginning. Since we believe in the power of God’s Word, we want our children exposed to as much of it as possible. So we read two full chapters from Genesis each night. Needless to say, a 5-year-old’s eyes will probably start to glaze over.

I encourage you to pick manageable passages, chosen based on thoughtful criteria. You may decide to begin in Genesis, and move through the Bible sequentially. The key is to not rush it, and to think ahead of time about the right “chunks” for each day.

3. STOP TO EXPLAIN AND GAUGE COMPREHENSION.
Even if the passage for the day is only one chapter, that can be a lot for a young child to absorb if read all at once. It’s incredibly important to stop often along the way, explain things, ask questions to gauge comprehension, and ensure your kids are following along and grasping what the passage is saying.

4. THINK OF AGE-APPROPRIATE QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION.
This aspect has become my children’s favorite part of our nightly time together in God’s Word. I’ve begun thinking of a few basic questions for each of them that will help them do three things with the passage we’ve read: (1) solidify their comprehension of the passage, (2) connect it to the Bible’s overall story, and (3) apply it to their lives.

When you ask simple questions, you’re doing much more than “quizzing” them to ensure they were paying attention. You are actually leading them, interactively, in a time of interpreting and applying God’s Word. And you are preparing them to engage the Scriptures directly on their own in the years to come.

5. CONNECT EACH PASSAGE TO JESUS.
Jesus makes an amazing—even shocking—statement to the Pharisees in John 5: “You search the Scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life. But it is they that bear witness about me.” He is saying, in no uncertain terms, that the Scriptures are centered around him—his incarnation, his life, his teaching, his death, his resurrection, his return.

What does this mean for daily Bible reading with our kids? It means if we’re trying to help them understand any part of the biblical storyline, we must give them a sense of how that part connects to the major character—and great climax—of that big story.

6. LET BIBLE READING LEAD TO PRAYER.
Listening to kids who are learning to pray can be humorous. If yours are anything like mine, their prayers can be hilarious in their simplicity and self-focus. God has heard prayers in our home for dogs, movies, imaginary people, and, of course, coveted toys.

If we’re honest, though, our children’s prayers often are really just “kid versions” of our own. We can easily resort to praying only for our needs and wants, rather than spending time praising and adoring God, and asking for his Spirit’s work in the lives of others. One way to grow in our prayer lives, then, is to intentionally tether our prayers to our reading. We can help our kids “talk back” to God daily, based on the ways he’s speaking to them through the Scriptures.

Parents, press on. Daily, prayer-fueled exposure to the Word of God is the best gift we can ever give our kids.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

His Eye Is On Bigfoot:

“Can you fathom the mysteries of God? Can you probe the limits of the Almighty?”
– Job 11:7

I’ll tell you why I hope Bigfoot exists — and why, in a way, I hope he is never discovered. Because it excites me to think that there are creatures out there God has made for his own enjoyment and to enhance the wonder of life on the earth.

I like to think about those creepy fanged fishies deep in the Mariana Trench, swimming around in the murky darkness of the oceanic fathoms, their dangling bioluminescence their only lantern into the future. Most of them we will never see — at least, not on this side of the new earth, where we don’t have the lung capacity or the mechanical capacity to withstand the pressure of such depths. There are species down there we have zero clue about. I think of exotic fish in clear pools of water in the darkness of undiscovered caves deep in the jungles that human feet will never enter. In the thickest centers of the wildest forests, there are species of insects and birds that are yet undetected.

And maybe there are Bigfoots in the North American woods. I mean, we didn’t know about the mountain gorilla until 1902! Can you believe that? An actual large primate we didn’t know anything about until the 20th century?

I believe that God made all things for his own glory. Anything that was made, he made and made for ultimately for that end — to reflect the wondrous creativity and power and love and God-ness of himself. And this is why there are some things we just don’t know about. If we could know everything, we’d be God. So I think God keeps a lot of things to himself. The answers to a lot of our “why” questions, for instance. And maybe, just maybe, giant frolicking sea monsters and fields of space flowers on some unreachable planet and big upright primates only detectable by the blurriest of camera lenses.

God has bathed this world in wonder in such a way that mere examination can’t do it justice. Recently noted atheist scientist and TV personality Neil deGrasse Tyson tweeted, “I wonder who was the first person to see a bird soaring high above & think it a good idea to capture it and lock it in a cage.” Some wiseacre replied, “A scientist.”

Science can help us see the wonder, but it can’t quite figure out how to help us wonder at the wonder. As C.S. Lewis wrote, “In Science we have been reading only the notes to a poem; in Christianity we find the poem itself.”

And this is why I hope we never catch Bigfoot: If we did, the fun would be gone. The mystery would vanish — poof, with a whimper. We’d lose the wonder. He’d be skinned, flayed, vivisected. We’d have his brain in a jar at the Smithsonian. And we’d lose another increment in that feeling that there’s another world just around the corner. It’s better, for now, not to know.

I like that God keeps some things just to himself. It reminds me that he’s God and I’m not. It reminds me that this world he’s created is revealing his glory, not mine. This is part of the reason, I suppose, that when God responds to Job’s inquiries with an epic journey up the dizzying heights of divine sovereignty, he includes some stuff about sea monsters.

I like that God teases us with these mysteries. So long as the mystery of Christ has been revealed (Eph. 3), and we have all that we need to be saved and to work out that salvation, I am totally cool with these little misty visions haunting the created order, always one step ahead of us, peeking around trees, leaving mushy footprints, stray hairs, sketchy images. They help me delight in God’s delight. They help me remember this world is wondrous and it belongs to the God who spoke the cosmos into being without breaking a sweat.

His eye is on the Sasquatch, you know. Even if ours are not.