Archive for the ‘Homeschool’ Category

The Bible Story Handbook by John and Kim Walton
Crossway Books, 2010

The Bible Story Handbook is a new resource for parents and Sunday School teachers wanting to clearly and correctly communicate the truth of the Bible to children. Unlike many such resources, this is not a curriculum or lesson plan, but is a rather unique tool that will assist and enrich all those who seek to communicate God’s timeless truth to young hearts and minds.

Beginning the collection off is an essay on the need for this book and the dangers of “dumbing down” Biblical stories. It is the danger of hermeneutics trumping exegesis, to use the language of Stuart and Fee’s “How to Read the Bible For All Its Worth.” Though the gray area theological points of the authors shines through a little too strongly at times (in particular their views on creation and the continuation of charismata), the introduction should be essential reading for all who minister to children and have the sacred duty of teaching them about God from the Scriptures. This includes ALL parents! To sum up the concept of the book, here’s a quote:

“Though we might be able to learn innumerable things from a passage, the passage is not teaching everything that anybody sees in it.” (p.22)

The books aims to help teachers understand both what the main point of a Bible story is, and what it specifically is not. This is a really useful thing to have, especially for people less well versed in the Scriptures who may not so quickly recall other areas of the Bible that help identify the meaning of the text being studied. John and Kim Walton have provided a quick reference guide to check context, and so it is a book that can be used whether following a curriculum, or creating your own lessons from scratch.
After the introduction, the book is broken into Old Testament and New Testament, covering a lot of the narrative of the Old Testament, and then providing lesson coverage for the Gospels, Acts and Revelation. The epistles are not covered since they do not meet the requirements of narrative story. Each lesson contains the following sections:

– Lesson Focus
– Lesson Application
– Biblical Context
– Interpretational Issues in the Story
– Background Information
– Mistakes to Avoid

The lessons take up around a couple of pages each, so the material is not particularly lengthy, but is written for adults to consult and consider prior to teaching. I daresay that there will be disagreements along the way. For instance, comparing the Walton’s take on the story of Jonah with Tullian Tchividjian’s brilliant Surprised By Grace, it is clear that they hold strong opinions about the use and abuse of the text that may differ with other writers and theologians. I do appreciate their strength of conviction, but it will have to be weighed against other sources too – no carte blanche for anyone but God, I’m afraid!

I do not foresee this being a book that is allowed to gather dust – with two young sons of my own, and regular ministry to children in our home church, I will be routinely consulting this volume for a quick checkup to see if the lesson is on point, and will likely employ it in personal study and sermon preparation too! This is a unique resource to add to your collection.

A review copy was provided to me at no charge by the publisher. No attempt was made to gain a favorable review, and all opinions and recommendations expressed are the author’s own.

As a father and former child myself, I have found myself searching the Scriptures more and more lately in developing a Biblically grounded theology of children. The Church has been doing this for years and there is hardly any consensus on how exactly our children are initiated into the full membership of the Church community. Baptists, Presbyterians, Lutherans, Catholics, Anglicans, and so on all have varying convictions on these matters. I am not attempting to resolve this doctrinal matter in its entirety, but do want to commend the following quotes from C.H. Spurgeon (from “Spiritual Parenting”)  as something that I trust we can all get behind and seek in the life of our children and Church. Enjoy.

Importance of training children in the faith: “Parents sin in the same way when they omit religion from the education of their children. Perhaps the thought is that their children cannot be converted while they are children…Let us expect our children to know the Lord. Let us from the beginning mingle the name of Jesus with their ABC’s. Let them read their first lessons from the Bible…But let us never be guilty, as parents, of forgetting the religious training of our children. If we do, we may be guilty of the blood of their souls.”

The sin of low expectations: “Another result is that the conversion of children is not expected in many of our churches and congregations. I mean, that they do not expect the children to be converted as children. The theory is that if we can impress youthful minds with principles which may, in after years, prove useful to them, we have done a great deal. But to convert children as children, and to regard them as being as much believers as their seniors, is regarded as absurd.”

The sin of cynicism: “Another bad result is that the conversion of children is not believed. Certain suspicious people always file their teeth a bit when they hear of a newly-converted child: they will have a bite at him if they can. They very rightly insist that these children should be carefully examined before they are baptized and admitted into the church. However, they are wrong in insisting that only in exceptional instances are they to be received. We quite agree with them as to the care to be exercised, but it should be the same in all cases, and neither more nor less in the cases of children.”

I highly commend these words from Spurgeon. I want to reaffirm over and over again how important it is for us to train the little ones in the Way, the Truth, and the Life. God has ordained instruction as the primary means whereby our children are brought into a faithful relationship with the Father (Deut. 6:4-9). Studies show that our children’s capacity for learning is amazingly high between infancy and 5 years.  Our children’s most tender years are also the most pliable. Their sense of identity and worldview are pretty much solidified by 18-20 years of age. Why is then that many parents have abandoned instructing their kids, instead saying, “I don’t want them to believe just because I believe and taught them. I want them to grow up and then find out for themselves what they believe.” This type of thinking is deadly. We wouldn’t dare keep our children from math, literature, etc because we would rather them grow up and decide whether they want to learn or not. We wouldn’t dare refrain from teaching our children the danger of running into the street and touching a hot stove. How much more then should we be guiding our children into eternal truth for their eternal good? (more…)

If you aren’t sure if a pair of pants or shorts is tight, or possibly even too tight, here are a few tests to as measure:

1. If you are constantly pulling them out of your crotch

2. If you can see your underwear/panty

3. If you can see parts of your gluteus maximus (butt)

The same would go for skirts/dresses.

My how we have lost the purity and sanctity of our sexuality.  As the days grow older, the trend of “more” is better seems to grow- more skin and bodily parts, that is.  From the dawn of time, women have this need to feel, well, needed.  It’s quite natural, and unfortunately a curse of human kind.  Women tend to look for gratification, satisfaction in their worth through use of their bodies.  I’m not totally against having a sense of ‘style’.  After all, even the early pilgrims and prairie girls think their style is good (which I am increasingly likening).

Finding modesty in the world is one thing, but it’s sad that it’s sometimes hard press to find modest feminism in the church.  By modest feminism, I mean feminine (appealing women’s apparel) that is attractive yet modest in expression of such.  The world has abused and misused (as is what it does) the word feminine/feminism.  It has turned what is meant to be good and perverted it.  No surprise.

As for a woman of godly character, to these guidelines should she aspire:

1Tim2:9 likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, 10 but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works.

So what if the world thinks you’re weird?  You’re to be set apart- different.  For where is your treasure?  In the world’s acceptance?   So shall a woman not think herself ugly or unacceptable if she fails to show cleavage or wear lowriders so that her belly may show and “appeal” to coolness.  Do you contemplate how to “strut your stuff”?  It shows our vanity, our insecurity, our great selfish need of attention. “Look at me, look at me” says the self-centeredness of me.  This is not the mind of the godly.  Those parts, though beautiful, are reserved- if single, for your marriage; if married, for your husband.  Now I know that some would say “that’s the old way of thinking”, “that’s so traditional”.  So is 1Tim2:9 irrelevant for today?  I think not.  Only if you desire to satisfy your own ways, tread with care.  Will you cause another to stumble for the sake of your liberty?  May it not be.  For you are to put others before self.  We were created as sexual beings but also to use self-control.  Our sexuality is sacred and is not to be used in a debased way.  As a believer, we are to use them to the glory of God.  (1Cor6) Your body is a temple for God’s use.  Just because we were created as sexual creatures does not mean that we have liberty to do what we will, that is, IF we are seeking the will and honor of our Christ.  I pray that we women would be aware how we should take care in how we present ourselves in public, for our lives are not just about us, but first about God, then others.  For it is said, “Love God first, then love your neighbor”.  (Matt22:37)  It is not said, “put yourself first, then think of your neighbor”.  It’s a tough balance of understanding and loving.  I know, this is radical.  Somehow, God’s word is, well, radical.  Are we loving our brothers and honoring our sisters by how we dress and adorn ourselves?   By loving our brothers, I mean, causing unnecessary offense or stumbling.  Your breasts are precious and sacred for a greater purpose than to expose them for sake of “style”.  Private parts are named that for a reason. There’s a reason the bible speaks to lust and sexual immorality and fleeing from it!  It’s still relevant for today!  Our bodies have special purposes.  And in ‘honoring our sisters’, I mean are we considering their husbands consciences, protecting their minds & their eyes.  Are we considering their brothers, their fathers, their sons?  As I begin to deal with a teenage son and the world of lust and desires of a man’s heart, I am more and more sensitive to these issues.  I pray the church, at the least, would humble themselves in this issue, and consider the brother and sister, and love them in how they use their bodies.  May we women use our bodies to the glory of Christ, in good works, in modesty, not flashing body parts unnecessarily and inappropriately.

Biblia.com is Here!!!

Posted: September 28, 2010 by Jonathan in Biblical Studies, Devotional, Family, Homeschool
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From the people that make Logos bible software for Mac and PC, the cloud computing version has arrived at Biblia.com. Well, is arriving at least. The feature set is apparently being completed, but if you already own a Logos base package, then a lot of your material is now available on the web. And Logos is promising that in future, people will be able to buy content for any of their platforms and use it on any other platform. This is a great model, and one that is only serving to further establish Logos as the premier electronic bible study tool. I’ll be using the website for most Bible reference links on this site, so go ahead and familiarize yourself with this excellent study aide.

You know when you get a song stuck in your head and it’s all you can sing for days, maybe even weeks on end?  My 4 yr. old Lexi has had “I want to Know You, In the Secret” by Sonicflood stuck in her head for weeks now, it has become her default song.  I guess if there was any song to get stuck in her head, it’s a good one to dwell on.

The Lyrics:

In the secret, in the quiet place

In the stillness you are there

In the secret, in the quiet hour I wait

Only for you

Cause I want to know you more!

(chorus)  I want to know You, I want to hear Your face.  I want to know you more.  I want to touch You. I want to see Your face.  I want to know you more.  (Then she says: “one more!” and repeats. How sweet the sound of a little worshiping voice.)

Kira’s been singing “I am not skilled to understand, what God has willed what God has planned. I only know at His right hand, stands one who is my Savior. … My Savior loves, my Savior lives, my Savior’s always there for me.  My God He was, my God He is, my God He’s always gonna be…”   (My Savior, My God by Aaron Shust)

And Cody (16) soaks himself in Christian rap namely “holy hip hop”, thanks to my husband’s keen eye for music.  Cody loves to just recreate in his room, listening to his music.

These are the normal songs sung in our home.  Quality, godly lyrics are a great reminder of why we sing, why we breathe- namely to bring God glory.  As Christians, we should not cease to “want to know” Him more.  I pray for all my children that their light would never grow dim, that their burning to “know” and “love” God never ceases, just as relentless as the songs that get stuck in our heads haunt us (sometimes for the good).  Oh that we would cling on for dear life, as that is exactly what’s at stake.   His mercy endures forever.

Sweet Moments

Posted: September 27, 2010 by mimi in Children, Family, Homeschool

Sometimes I wish I could snap my finger and have life recorded on video automatically to capture all the precious moments in life, one of which I just missed.

My 2 girls are playing with play dough.  Kira (6) loves to pretend she’s the host of a food show when she plays with dough.  Here was her recent blurb:

“My name is Kira. Welcome to the food channel. I love to help my mother and father. I am a Christian so I like to do Christian things.   Well, we’ll be right back after the commercial break.”

I don’t feed her these things verbatim, though I have to admit to having taught her these truths and values.  Some may think I’m indoctrinating her (& all my children) into falsehood.  Woe is them who doubt the truth of the gospel of Christ and the reality of an Almighty God.

As I sit here, I listen to their precious exchange of words as they play together in (fairly) sweet harmony (albeit in brief spurts).  How it touches my heart when I see God bless the fruit of our labors.  Be diligent in teaching, labor hard & cheerfully, as unto the Lord.

Francis Chan is a cool Asian brother from another mother. Some may label him overly pietistic, however I think he grasps the radical nature of discipleship and what it means to follow Jesus. In the attached youtube clip, Francis calls out all parents who use their kids as an excuse to live the safest life possible.

Fear-based parenting will breed fearful kids who think our Jesus is also afraid of all the bad things and people in the world. While catechizing my kids last night, we discussed Jesus’ baptism and how he showed solidarity with the sinners who had gone into the water. Jesus’ ministry involved hanging out with sinners and He was often criticized for hanging out with the wrong people. As I was explaining this, I had a Holy Spirit gut check about how we are to nurture our kids and yet also model the mission of Jesus to sinners. I think we do need to be discerning and mindful of the maturity level of our children, but are we actually preparing them for the mission of Jesus to sinners, or are we instead raising kids to be like those who would criticize Jesus for hanging out with all those “bad” people?

My desire for my kids to simply marry another Christian and raise happy smiley kids is not enough. For them to view the importance of Church is not enough. They need to know the heartbeat of their Savior and in someway, some shape, model His love for sinners. I don’t want my kids to carry the banner of legalistic pride, but instead wave the banner of Christ’s love for sinners.

I realize that many would point out that the lasting fruit from children reared in American Evangelical Churches has been horrible and that a more rigorous approach is necessary. Many parents desire that their own kids become faithful Christians first and foremost. My only concern is whether being a “faithful” Christian actually involves the component of mission that Jesus exhibited towards sinners. I’m not talking about sending money to a missionary, but actually being a living embodiment of grace to those around us. If we truly understand grace, we must not raise our kids to be high-cultured “high-browed” Christians, there is no such thing in the Kingdom of God.

The Church should not be in retreat mode from the world. Jesus actually said that the gates of hell would not withstand the Church, which means that we are on the offensive. Digging into a bunker and having lots of kids who have lots of kids may grow the Church through reproductive means, but we are called to engage in warfare. Our warfare is waged through mission. This post isn’t about home-schooling, public-schooling, or any other badges that some people wear as a sign of spiritual “maturity”, but is really about what it means to be a disciple of Jesus and whether we are truly raising our kids to be radical followers of Jesus or are neutering them from the core of Jesus’ mission.

Anyhow, here’s the clip from Francis Chan that may give you a Holy Spirit gut check as well: