KIDS TALK: EPHESIANS

EphesiansThe Big Read – Ephesians (Download Powerpoint)

Powerpoint Pictures: Elephant; Post it note; Diary; Family Calendar; To-Do List on Phone; Note on back of hand; Knot in handkerchief

You probably don’t have the memory of an elephant that never forgets things.

Often we need help remembering things.

We may use post it notes, a diary, a family calendar, a to-do list on your phone.  We may write a note on the back of our hand or if we’re old school, tie a knot in our handkerchief.

Ephesians is a letter written to a church that was in danger of forgetting something really important.  This local church was in danger of forgetting all that God had done for them and so Paul writes a letter to them.

But he doesn’t just do that.  He tells them that he is praying that they will remember these things too.  “I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.” (Ephesians 1:17)

In Ephesians 1-3, Paul gives a wonderful description of what God has done for us.  How God has saved us by sending His Son.  How through Jesus, God has united us to Himself and to one another so that we are one people.  All this is done to grace.

But why is it so important that they and us remember what God has done?  It is so we live as people who have been saved by Jesus.

“As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.” (Ephesians 4:1)

And Ephesians 4-6 is all about what it means to live out the unity that Jesus has achieved in response to the grace God has shown to us.  This will mean being patient with one another, building one another up, speaking the truth to people and so on.

So Ephesians is about some of the wonderful things God has done for us and also how we are to live in ways that make God happy.

More talks from The Big Read for Kids can be found HERE.

Family Driven Faith

There are many books on parenting out there, but if you were going to buy just one, Family Driven Faith by Voddie Baucham Jr. is certainly one that Christian parents should consider getting.  You may not agree with everything Baucham says but it will certainly challenge you to take seriously God’s call to do what you can with His help to raise children who walk with God.  Below I have written a summary of what the book is about and engaged a little with the bits I disagreed with. 

fdf

In the opening chapter of ‘Family Driven Faith’ Baucham assesses the current situation, which is that so-called Christian children are walking away from the faith when they reach adulthood, and asking why that is.  The answer given is that most of these so-called Christian children are not Christians, and that many Christian parents have yet to realise that their primary goal in parenting is their children’s walk with the Lord.  Baucham then calls Christian parents to do something about this trend by pointing them to the help in raising children which is found in the Bible, particularly Deuteronomy 6.  The principles found in Deuteronomy 6 are then discussed in chapters 2-8. 

Chapter 2 looks at applying Deuteronomy 6:4 in our parenting by being committed to God and living lives that honour Him.  Five ways in which we can do this (based on Ephesians 5:15-21) is by watching our walk (being good examples to our children); by being good stewards of the time (realising that we only get one chance to raise our kids); by understanding God’s Will (our children don’t belong to us, they belong to God so God’s Will for our children should be our top concern); by constantly yielding to God’s Spirit (which we do when we acknowledge God whenever we can); and by ordering our relationships by the book (which means making marriage the priority relationship in the home).     

Onto Deuteronomy 6:5 in chapter 3, where the big principle is that if we learn to love God we will learn to love period.  This requires us getting our definition of love right.  The biblical definition of love is that love is an act of the will (it’s a choice) accompanied (not led) by emotion that leads to action (it’s proved by our efforts) on behalf of its object.  This understanding of love is transferrable to all our relationships. 

In chapter 4 looks at Deuteronomy 6:5 and the need for our children to do not only what God’s says but also to submit their will to the will of God.  For this to happen, children need to be taught to think biblically because they act on what they believe.  Five keys areas our children need to be taught to think biblically in is about God, man, truth, knowledge and ethics.    

The focus of chapter 5 is the application of the first half Deuteronomy 6:7 and the need of getting our children into the word of God if we want our children to think biblically.  As Baucham points out: “We must get our kids into the Word of God if we intend to get the Word of God into our kids.”  The responsibility for doing this lies with the parents.  “You can impact your child’s faith-life by reading and teaching the Bible at home.  More importantly, God has entrusted and commissioned you (not the youth minister or the Sunday school teacher) with this awesome task.”  Three ways in which we can do this is by firstly, simply reading the Bible to our children.  Why?  Because the Bible is the very Word of God; it’s God’s primary tool in preparing us for a life of godliness and service; it’s an agent by which God conforms us to the very image of Christ, and it’s a change agent.  Secondly, by Q&A, spending time answering your children’s questions, and getting them to answer their own Bible questions.  Then thirdly, by getting them to read books that will encourage the development of biblical faith. 

Chapter 6 is all about applying the rest of Deuteronomy 6:7 and how we live the Word at home.  Baucham lists 3 phases.  Phase 1 is the discipline phase, the key aim of this phase is that children are taught to obey their parents, this means that they ‘do what they are told, when they are told, with a respectful attitude.  Phase 2 is the catechism phase.  “The goal of catechism is to impart biblical theology.  Through a series of questions and answers the child slowly learns what to believe and, more importantly, why.”  Then phase 3 is the discipleship phase which is about teaching children what to do with what they have learnt.  “Discipleship is the application of what we believe.  If our children do not know what we believe or why we believe it, they will have difficult time understanding why one lifestyle choice is superior to another.”  At this point Baucham, discusses the part education plays in discipleship making the point that state education ‘detracts rather than contributes to discipleship…limits the time we have to make disciples…does not teach a biblical worldview…does not teach them to love, know and obey God.’  For him this is a good argument for Christian parents to home school their children rather than send them to state schools. 

In Chapter 7 Baucham looks at some of the ways in which we can put Deuteronomy 6:9 into practice.  Ideas include have pictures and photo’s up which would direct their focus to God, playing songs of the faith in the home, have a special meal on Sundays.  But the prime way is family worship. 

Then in chapter 8, a warning is given about the pull of prosperity and how that can draw families away from God, and parents away from their all-important of raising their kids.  “God is not against your having things.  He is, however, against things having you.”   One of the concerns that Baucham has that both parents work fulltime not because they need to provide the essentials of life but so that they can be more prosperous and the effect this has on the raising of their children.  

On the whole everything Baucham says in chapter 1-8 I would agree with and is very helpful.  I appreciate his passion for parents taking responsibility for bringing their children up.  I like the biblical definition of love that he gives.  I agree that it is important for children to be taught a biblical worldview, and I think that he gives some helpful suggestions as to how this can be done.  One thing I thought was missing was a discussion about whether we are to understand the passage in Deuteronomy 6 differently now that we are living under the New Covenant.   Eric Lane explains in his book Special Children? that under the Old Covenant (when Deuteronomy 6 was written), children were brought up to live in a covenant community, whereas today, they are brought up under the New Covenant to live in the world.  I think this plays a part in thinking about the arguments for homeschooling (although like Baucham I am a home school dad!) 

In the final two chapters, the subject moves from the home to the church.  

In chapter 9 the question is asked: ‘If the Bible clearly gives parents the responsibility of discipling their children, what role does the church play in the process?’  This leads him to question the need for churches to have a youth ministry for three reasons.  1) There is no clear biblical mandate for it.  2) It can damage family dynamics as split the family up at church.  3) In America it does seem to be working (referring back to what he said in chapter 1).  Much of this is a reaction against parents who instead of discipling their children themselves, hand them over to the youth ministry to do this for them.  Baucham however, does except that the strongest argument for having a youth ministry is providing for kids who don’t have Christian parents although he would rather they be in church noting that “When kids are disciple and integrated into the Christian community, they tend to remain in the fold.”  

In chapter 10, Baucham then outlines that alternative way of doing church without the youth ministry which is the ‘family integrated church’.  The distinctives of a family integrated churches are that families worship together; there are no age-specific groups; evangelism and discipleship is done through the homes with men being held accountable for this; and the majority of parents home school.  The motivation behind these features is a keen desire to promote a biblical view of marriage and the family, family worship and discipleship, Christian education, and biblically qualified leadership. 

Once again I agree with much of what Baucham is saying.  I think his principles and motivation for saying what he does is spot on.  That said, I don’t agree fully with his application!  I believe that a youth (and kids) ministry can play an important function in working with and supporting parents as they seek with God’s help to raise their children.  I too, believe that it is important for families to worship together.  Three ways that the church I work for has tried to cultivate this is by firstly, having no age specific groups for children over 11 at the same time as our church services.  Secondly, having a family service once a month (and school holidays) when there is no children groups during the service.  Thirdly, by creating a culture where families sit together.  In addition I also believe that a biblical view of marriage and the family, family worship and discipleship, Christian education and biblically qualified leadership can be promoted without adopting the family integrated approach to doing church. 

To sum up: Family Driven Faith was a helpful and thought-provoking read.  I’d recommend that parents and church leaders get a copy to read and think through what is said, even if they don’t agree with everything Baucham says (homeschooling and family integrated church with no youth ministry I think will be probably the two biggest areas of disagreement that some may have).  Thank you Voddie Baucham Jr. for reminding me again about the need to do what it takes to raise children who walk with God. 

Family Driven Faith is available to buy HERE

For more to with Family Driven Faith, check out Voddie Baucham’s website HERE.

Latest Links

The links of the last week worth checking out…

What does the Bible say about children and young people?

Here are some notes I made on what the Bible says about children and young people: 

1. It is not clear as to when childhood finishes and adulthood begins.   

Leviticus 27:3-5 suggests that a person ceases to be considered a child/young person at the age of 20. 

2. Children are the fulfilment of the creation mandate to be fruitful and to multiply. 

The command to be fruitful and multiply was given both to Adam at creation (Genesis 1:28) and Noah after the flood (Genesis 9:1).  Children are necessary if this command was to be obeyed. 

3. Children are a gift from God and a sign of God’s blessing.   

In the book of Genesis it clear that children are a gift from God.  The theme of a barren woman miraculously being able to conceive runs throughout the book.  Eve with God’s help gave birth to Cain (Genesis 4:1).  Abram recognises that God has given him no children (Genesis 15:2-3).  Rachel speaking after the birth of Dan said that God has given her a child (Genesis 30:1).  Jacob says of his children that they are a gracious gift from God (Genesis 33:5).  

Elsewhere in the Bible we are reminded that children are a sign of God’s blessing or a reward from Him.  In Psalm 127:3 we read that children (sons) are a heritage or reward from the Lord.  In Zechariah 8:5 a sign of God’s blessing is that children are playing in the streets. 

Whilst the birth of a child and the happiness of children is a sign of God’s blessing, the death of a child is an indication of a calamity or the worse of curses to an enemy.  The prophet Nahum prophesying about the fall of Nineveh, God’s enemy, speaks of infants being dashed to pieces (Nahum 3:10).  Psalm 137:8-9 speaks of the death of Babylonian children. 

4. Children are valued before they are born.   

God can relate to and deal with a person from the moment of conception (and before).  In Psalm 139:13 we are told that God knits a person together in their mother’s womb.  In Job 31:15 tells us that God made him in the womb. 

5. Children are valued as much as any other age group.   

God is a God of all human ages including children.  In the gospels we read that Jesus healed children (Jairus’ daughter in Mark 5, boy with an evil spirit in Mark 9), Jesus invited children to come to Him (Matthew 19:13-15), and Jesus knows about the lives of children (Matthew 11:16-19 or Luke 7:31-35). 

6. Children have a sinful nature. 

For all have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory (Romans 3:23) and facing God’s wrath, his righteous anger (Ephesians 2:3).  All includes children and adults alike.  Psalm 51:5 tells us that children are sinful from the time of conception. 

7. Children are immature. 

This is implied in a number of passages where the immaturity of childhood is used to illustrate Christian immaturity.  In Ephesians 4:14, Paul talks of becoming mature as a Christian as being no longer infants.  In 1 Corinthians 14:20 Paul urges the Corinthians to stop thinking like children but to start thinking like adults.  Leaving childish ways behind is a sign of adulthood (1 Corinthians 13:11).  In Hebrews 5:12-13 a baby on milk is used to describe an immature Christian who has not grown up and made spiritual progress in understanding God’s Word. 

8. Children are dependent.   

In Matthew 18:3-4 (or Mark 10:13-16) Jesus tells the disciples that they are to become like little children if they want to enter the kingdom of heaven.  Jesus was telling them that the helplessness and dependence that children have is what He is looking for in His disciples. 

9. Children become accountable.   

Children are held accountable as sinners from time of conception (Psalm 51:5).  But the Bible does teach that there is a time when children are not held responsible for the choices they make.  For example Deuteronomy 1:39 we read of the Israelite children that they “do not yet know good from bad” and because of that they are allowed to enter the promised land.  In Isaiah 7:15-16 we are told that there is a time when the boy (child) does not know enough to reject the wrong and choose the right.   

As children grow up and mature their understanding of right and wrong and ability to make decisions increases, so they become more and more accountable. 

10. Children are part of the community of God’s people. (see Ian Fry, ‘What is Christian Youthwork?’ in FAQs published by The Good Book Company.  p.12-13)

It seems that whenever the people of God gathered for corporate worship, the children and young people were present.  Children were present whenever the Passover occurred (Exodus 12:26-27), when Israel entered into God’s covenant (Deuteronomy 29:10-15), at feast times (Deuteronomy 31:10-12), when the covenant was renewed at Mount Ebal (Joshua 8:35), and at times of seeking God (2 Chronicles 20:5-13).  It was expected that acts of corporate worship would arouse interest of, and provoke questioning by children (Exodus 13:11-14). 

This pattern seems to be present in the early church.  When Paul wrote letters to the churches, he had instructions for children to follow (Ephesians 6:1-3 and Colossians 3:20).  He must have expected them to be present as his letter was read out. 

11. God does great things with young people. (see HERE)   

There are so many examples of God using young people to do great things for Him.  Youth was a time for service and heroism.  

Old Testament examples include Joshua who was Moses’ assistant since youth (Numbers 11:28).  The spies who investigated Jericho were young men (Joshua 6:23).  Jeremiah was called to be a prophet when he was a child (Jeremiah 1:5-7).  David was only a boy when he fought Goliath (1 Samuel 17:33).  Other examples are Joseph, Samuel, Samson, Joash, Josiah, Daniel and Esther. 

In the New Testament we have Paul’s nephew who warned him about a plot on his life (Acts 23:16-22) or the unnamed boy with the loaves and fish that Jesus used to feed the five thousand men plus women and children (John 6:9). 

12. Children must learn to love and fear the Lord.   

In Deuteronomy 6:2 we read that commands, decrees and laws were given by God to Moses to pass on to the Israelites so that they, their children and their children’s children may fear God.  In Deuteronomy 6:4-9 the command is to love God with all your heart, soul and strength.  This is to be on the parent’s hearts but also to be impressed upon their children. 

13. Children are to be told God’s Words and God’s Works so that they will trust in Him. 

In Psalm 78:4-7 parents were told to pass on God’s works (his praiseworthy deeds, v4) and God’s Words (statutes, law, v5), to teach these to their children so that would put their trust in God and keep his commands. 

14. Children need to trust in Jesus as their Lord and Saviour to be saved. 

Acts 2:21 or Romans 10:13 tells us that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.  Romans 10:9 says that if you confess with your mouth “Jesus is Lord” and believe in your heart God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  This applies to children as we as adults.  They need to trust in Jesus as their Lord and Saviour to be saved from an eternity in hell separated from God. 

15. God says the prime responsibility for the spiritual nurture of children and young people lies with the parents. 

God places people in families, and the family relationship is important (Exodus 20:12, Ephesians 6:1-3, Colossians 3:20).  Proverbs 1:8 tells us that it is both parents responsibility to pass on God’s truth.  The prime responsibility however falls to the father (Ephesians 6:4; this idea is found throughout Proverbs 1-9).  Timothy is an example of the positive impact a godly home can have on a person (2 Timothy 1:5).  

16. Parents are responsible for teaching and modelling God’s truth to their children. 

God chose Abraham to direct his children and his household to keep the way of the Lord by what is right and just (Genesis 18:19).  Fathers are to bring their children up in the training and instruction of the LORD.  Timothy was taught the Bible by his grandmother and mother from a young age (2 Timothy 3:15). 

17. Parents are responsible for disciplining their children as well as encouraging them. 

Children are born with evil inclinations (Ecclesiastes 12:1) so they not only need teaching but corrective, loving discipline (Proverbs 22:15).  Parents are responsible for disciplining their children (Proverbs 29:17).  Discipline is a sign that parents love their children because they want them to escape death and find life (Proverbs 13:24, 19:18).  The command to discipline is given to fathers in Ephesians 6:4 [‘training' is more literally translated ‘discipline']. 

Encouragement is important too.  Colossians 3:21 tell fathers not emitter their child because they will become discouraged. 

Praying for Children

From Neil Robbie, a really helpful post on praying for children…

31 things to pray for your children/grandchildren/godchildren

  • 1 salvation Lord, grant your salvation to my children, ‘that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus’ (Isa 45:8, 2 Tim 2:10).
  • 2 grace and knowledge I pray that they may ‘grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18).
  • 3 adoption and love Grant, Lord, that my children may learn that they are loved as your adopted children and so ‘live a life of love,’ through the Spirit who dwells in them (Romans 8:15-16, Ephesians 5:2, Galatians 5:22).
  • 4 sin and righteousness I pray that my children would know that you, God, made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become your righteousness. ‘ (2 Corinthians 5:21)
  • 5 holiness Lord, may my children know that “just as he who called them is holy, so they should be holy in all they do (1 Pet 1:15-16)
  • 6 a love for God’s Word ” May my children grow to find your Word ‘more precious than gold, than much pure gold; and sweeter than honey, than honey from the comb’ (Psalm 19:10).
  • 7 justice and mercy God, help my children to love justice as you do and to ‘act justly’ in all they do (Psalm 11:7, Micah 6:8) and may they always ‘be merciful, as their Father is merciful’ (Luke 6:36).
  • 8 Unity and glory Lord God, please give my kids a spirit of unity with all believers as they follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth they may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 15:5-6 )
  • 9 respect and authority (for self, others, authority) Father, grant that my children may ’show proper respect to everyone,’ as your Word commands (1 Peter 2:17a).
  • 10 biblical self-worth Help my children develop a strong self-worth as they realise they are  ‘God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus’ (Eph 2:10).
  • 11 Let love and faithfulness never leave my children,’ but bind these twin virtues around their necks and write them on the tablet of their hearts (Proverbs 3:3).
  • 12 strength and courage May my children always ‘Be strong and courageous’ in their character and in actions (Deuteronomy 31:6).
  • 13 purity Create in them a pure heart, O God, let their purity be shown in their actions (Ps 51:10) remembering that ‘To the pure, all things are pure’ (Titus 1:15)
  • 14 patience Lord, grant that my children will be ‘patient in affliction’ (Rom 12:12)
  • 15 money and generosity Grant that my children may ‘be generous and willing to share [and so] lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age’ (1 Timothy 6:18-19).
  • 16 peace and joy May my kids be filled with ‘the joy given by the Holy Spirit.’ (1 Thess 1:6). Father, let my children ‘make every effort to do what leads to peace’ (Romans 14:19).
  • 17 May integrity and honesty be their virtue and their protection (Ps 25:21).
  • 18 perseverance Lord, teach my children to persevere in all they do, as they ‘run with perseverance the race marked out for them’ (Hebrews 12:1).
  • 19 Selflessness I pray, Lord, that my children will have the same attitude as Christ Jesus, ‘looking not only to their own interests, but also to the interests of others. (Phil 2:4-5)
  • 20 Lord, ‘as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved,’ may my children ‘clothe themselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.‘ (Col 3:12).
  • 21 responsibility Grant that my children may learn responsibility, ‘for each one should carry his own load’ (Galatians 6:5).
  • 22 contentment Father, teach my children ‘the secret of being content in any and every situation; through him who gives them strength’ (Phil 4:12-13).
  • 23 faith I pray that as they focus on Christ, faith will root and grow in my children’s hearts, that by faith alone they may gain what you have promised to them (Luke 17:5-6, Heb 11:1-40).
  • 24 a servant heart God, please help my children develop servant hearts, that they may serve wholeheartedly, ‘as to the Lord, and not to men’ (Eph 6:7)
  • 25 hope May the God of hope grant that my children may overflow with hope and hopefulness by the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 15:13).
  • 26 hard work Teach my children, Lord, to value work and to work hard at everything they do, ‘as working for the Lord, not for men’ (Col 3:23).
  • 27 a passion for God Lord, please instill in my children a soul that “follows hard after you,” a heart that clings passionately to you (Psalm 63:8).
  • 28 self-discipline Father, I pray that my children may be self-disciplined, living ‘a disciplined and prudent life, doing what is right and just and fair’ (Prov 1:3).
  • 29 prayerfulness Grant, Lord, that my children’s lives may be marked by prayerfulness, that they may learn to ‘pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests (Eph 6:18).
  • 30 gratitude and rejoicing Help my children to live lives ‘overflowing with thankfulness,’ ‘giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ’ as they ‘Rejoice in you always’ (Col 2:7, Eph 5:20, Phil 4:4).
  • 31 a heart for mission Lord, please help my children to develop a heart for mission, a desire to see your glory declared among the nations, your marvelous deeds among all peoples (Psalm 96:3).