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Leiza Gomes

Helping Children See Their Invisible God

“Mom, why can’t I see God the way I see you and other real people?”

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Gazing out the car window always seems to prompt deep or funny questions for kids. My 6-year-old wants an answer to everything that is happening in the world. Where does rain come from? Why do humans salivate? Can she have blue hair? (The answer to the third question was no.)

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Seeing God…What a wonderful question! Believing in a God we don’t see is not only a dilemma for children, but something even adults can struggle with every day.

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Jesus said: “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are
those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20:29)

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How do we help children wrestle through the fact that they can’t see God? What does the Bible teach us about this? Here are some suggestions for navigating this conversation:

  • God always makes a way for us to know Him. The Bible tells us that Moses asked for the same thing. He wanted to see God.
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 “Moses responded, “Then show me your glorious presence.”’

The Lord replied, “I will make all my goodness pass before you, and I will call out my name, Yahweh, before you. For I will show mercy to anyone I choose, and I will show compassion to anyone I choose.  But you may not look directly at my face, for no one may see me and live.” The Lord continued, “Look, stand near me on this rock. As my glorious presence passes by, I will hide you in the crevice of the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. Then I will remove my hand and let you see me from behind. But my face will not be seen.” (Exodus 33:18-23)

God told Moses that no one could look directly at Him and live.[1] Use this opportunity to explain to your child that God did not leave Moses wondering. God made a way for Moses to feel His glorious presence. He even protected Moses by covering him as He passed by.


 

 

Moses couldn’t look directly at God because of the sin in his life. When God created humans, they were perfect. But the first humans, Adam and Eve, disobeyed God. Sin and death came into the world. Every human born after them was no longer perfect. However, God had a plan to save people from their sins. And one day, God would be able to walk and talk with them face-to-face just as he did with Adam and Eve.

God made a way for Moses to see and feel Him. And He was preparing a way for all other humans to see him, too.

1) How did God make a way for Moses to see God? (God hid Moses in the crevice of a rock and covered him with His hand. He allowed Moses to see Him from behind.)

2) Why couldn’t Moses look directly at God? (Moses’ sinful nature prevented him from looking directly at the perfect, magnificent God.)

3) How did God protect Moses in this story? (He made a way for Moses to see Him without Moses dying.)


Have your child close their eyes and keep them closed. Hold a flashlight pointing toward the ceiling as you walk past them. Ask if they could sense your presence and if they saw the light emanating from the flashlight. Remind them that God’s brilliance is overwhelmingly more powerful.

This activity will work better in a darker room. But remember not to point the flashlight directly at your children’s eyes when you do this!

  • God took on human form. He came into the world as baby Jesus. It is through Jesus Christ that humans could see God again because Jesus is God.

“For in Christ lives all the fullness of God in a human body.” (Colossians 2:9)

“Though he was God,
he did not think of equality with God
as something to cling to.
Instead, he gave up his divine privileges;
he took the humble position of a slave[2]
and was born as a human being.” (Philippians 2:6-7)

God’s desire is that we see Him. It is so important to God that we know Him that He came to earth in human form as the person of Jesus Christ.

God and Jesus are one.[3] The people walking on the earth about 2,000 years ago had the chance to see Jesus, and therefore also saw God. Jesus Christ is the visible image of the invisible God.[4]

Jesus’ full divine glory was hidden by human flesh. Jesus was 100% God and 100% human. Even though people were seeing Jesus face-to-face, many did not believe in Him. However, many did. And this is how the Church started.

Jesus willingly died on the cross for all the sins of the world. He rose from the dead and went to heaven to prepare a place for those who love and follow Him to be in God’s presence in the future.

Again, God made a way for people to see and feel Him.

1) Who is Jesus Christ? (Jesus Christ is God)

2) How long ago did Jesus Christ live on the earth? (Jesus lived on the earth about 2,000 years ago)

3) What did Jesus come to earth to do? (He came to die on the cross to save us from sin)

Ask your child to hold an ice pack or cubes with their bare hands. Acknowledge how the ice is cold and can feel like it’s burning. Then, take the cubes back and wrap them in a towel. Now, have your child hold it again. Explain to your child that Jesus was 100% God and 100% human. He chose to wrap himself in human form so we could know him.

Ice is the best for this activity—hot materials may burn yourself or your child!

  • In what ways can you help your child see God now?
  • We can see God in creation.

For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.” (Romans 1:20)

 

 

God created everything! All the things we can see around us—and even the things we can’t see. This is one of the ways God shows himself to us.

1) What have people seen since the creation of the world? (People have seen the earth and sky)

2) What did God create? (God created everything)

3) How can we see God in creation now? (We can see His power and divine nature through His beautiful creation)

Take a field trip into nature (the mountains, beach, or a local park). Or simply have your child look out a window up at the sky and clouds. Contemplate the Creator together and talk about how intricate creation is. No human hand could design the oceans, skies and mountains.

  • We can have God’s Spirit in us. Introduce your child to the Holy Spirit. If you’ve never talked with your child about who the third person of the Trinity is—this is the time.

“If you love me, obey my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate,[5]who will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you.” (John 14:15-17)

1) How can we show God we love him? (We obey His commandments)

2) How does the Holy Spirit help us? (He leads us in all truth)

3) Why can’t the world recognize the Holy Spirit? (The world is not looking for Him so they can’t recognize Him)

God has made a way for us to experience Him in a very deep and personal way. When Jesus Christ ascended into heaven, He promised to send His Holy Spirit. And when we believe and receive Jesus Christ, God comes to live in us through the Holy Spirit.[6]

Explain to your child that the Holy Spirit of God lives in us to guide, empower, teach and help us to follow the Word of God, and He shows us our unique purpose here on this earth.

Through the Holy Spirit we know God is with us, always. Once again, God made a way for us to be with him – until we see Him face-to-face, once and for all.

Sit with your child. Ask if he/she would like to pray with you. Ask God to show Himself in a powerful to you and your child today, and for them to receive the guidance of the Holy Spirit in their lives.

  • We can see God through His Word. Jesus is the Word of God (the Bible). He is God. 

In the beginning the Word already existed.
The Word was with God,
and the Word was God.” John 1:1

Jesus has many names – one of them is the Word. Jesus is the Word of God. God speaks to us through His Word. The more we know and understand the Bible, the more we know and see God. This is why it’s important for us to learn the Bible and memorize what it says.

1) Why should should we read the Bible? (To know and see God)

2) Who is the Word of God? (Jesus is the Word of God)

3) How can we hear God speak to us? (Through His Word)


Set aside time each day for devotionals with your child. Read a Bible story together, ask questions and let God speak to you.

You can also find great resources at: http://onehope.net/feature/parentresources/

 

Related:

5 ways to help kids understand the Bible
Catechism
Teach kids to share faith using Bible App For Kids

 


[1] Exodus 33:20
[2] Servant
[3] John 10:30
[4] Colossians 1:15
[5] Comforter, Encourager or Counselor.
[6] 1 Corinthians 3:16

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When Parenting Goes Viral

This past Saturday, Japanese parents abandoned their 7-year-old son by a road near a forest, as punishment for throwing rocks at people and cars.[1] There’s anger over the incident– they left him, drove about 500 meters and came back – and when they returned their son was gone. All they wanted to do was discipline him a little.

What would make parents do such a thing?

WHEN PARENTING GOES VIRAL | UNDETERRED.NET | EXPERIENCE THE STORY

The same weekend, parents at the Cincinnati Zoo watched in horror as a 450-pound gorilla grabbed a toddler by the leg and pulled him aggressively through the water of his enclosure. The gorilla became more agitated with the screaming audience watching helplessly from above. According to reports, the little boy had to go under a railing, through 3 feet of grass and shrubs, and over a wall before falling 10-15 feet into the gorilla enclosure.[2] [3]

Where was his mother? How could she let this happen?

Parenting is overwhelming and how we parent is constantly being questioned and tested. Unfortunately, in today’s world, our decisions and the consequences of those can even go viral. In reality, we make a lot of bad decisions.

We might not leave our child alone on a road as punishment, but we have all made poor parenting choices at times. We are far from being perfect. And acknowledging this is the first step to becoming the best parents we can be.

  • We are imperfect and have a sinful nature. Let’s protect our children from it.

 “The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions.” Galatians 5:17 (NLT)

Thankfully, we have the Holy Spirit, our Helper, who can guide and instruct us through parenting. Furthermore, our heavenly Father is our greatest example. We need to fill ourselves with Him by engaging with His Word daily. Our sinful nature will diminish as we learn to walk and live according to the Spirit of God.[4] 

  • We need to learn child-rearing through the lens of Scripture.

Research shows that child-rearing cognitions influence parents to either act positively or negatively toward their children. In other words, parents see their children through a filter of thoughts, beliefs, and attitudes which direct how they perceive and respond to their children’s actions.

You are probably not even aware what your filters are. You might feel pressured to perform as a parent due to society, family or cultural perceptions. Triggers can be subtle – stress, onlookers, selfishness, laziness, hidden anger.

In correcting your child, are you quickly losing your patience, because you’re in a public situation and embarrassed? Don’t react to the environment. Respond to what your child needs.

Stop for a moment and go back to the beginning. These are selfish concerns. Sometimes we don’t even know we are allowing other thoughts dictate how we are disciplining our children. Ask God to help you see them clearly. Ask God for wisdom. Our Father knows the art of parenting.

  • Children are vulnerable.

Those Japanese parents probably had good intentions about teaching their son to be courteous and kind to others, but the method they chose couldn’t have been worse. Scaring their son into obeying by abandoning him on the roadside is not a good way to discipline. Beneath the surface of that unruly, rock-throwing, rebellious child is a little boy who will never forget the moment he was left alone. We need to remember that emotional scars are very hard to heal. And as parents we are responsible for the physical, emotional and spiritual well-being of our children.

  • Don’t sin against your children.

This is in the Bible, too. Of course we never intend to hurt our children or damage them in any way. But we need to consider the importance of our words, actions, and even body language in our everyday interactions. Everything we do “says” something.

“Fathers, do not aggravate your children, or they will become discouraged.” Colossians 3:21

Let’s treat our children with respect, as well as with love. We are the role models they will follow, and will emulate when raising their own children.

  • Always discipline your children with love.

No one is questioning the importance of discipline. It’s wisdom and life to our children. Without discipline, a child will suffer as an adult.

  1. “The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother.” (Proverbs 29:15)
  2. “Discipline your son, for there is hope; do not set your heart on putting him to death.” (Proverbs 19:18)

May we correct, encourage and love our children as God corrects, encourages and loves us.


Leiza Gomes | OneHope | Undeterred.net

Leiza Gomes has a passion to see children and youth find their true identity and purpose in Christ. Together with her husband, she served in overseas missions with youth in Germany and at-risk youth and children in Brazil. Leiza is both a graduate from the International School of Ministry in Boca Raton, FL and of Florida Atlantic University with a Bachelor’s in Multimedia Journalism. She currently works as a Project Design Manager developing tools to share the Gospel with children and youth around world with OneHope.

Related:


[1] https://www.yahoo.com/news/japan-erupts-anger-over-boy-abandoned-forest-being-064259495.html
[2] http://www.usatoday.com/story/life/nation-now/2016/05/31/jack-hanna-zookeeper-knoxville-cincinnati-zoo-gorilla-killed/85181272/
[3] http://www.cbsnews.com/news/gorilla-death-watchdog-group-wants-cincinnati-zoo-held-responsible/
[4] Galatians 5:24-25
[5] Grusec, PhD, Danyliuk, BA topic ed. Parents’ Impact on Children’s Development – Synthesis. Encyclopedia on Early Childhood Development [online]. CEECD, SKC-ECD. December, 2014. URL: http://www.child-encyclopedia.com/parenting-skills/according-experts/parents-attitudes-and-beliefs-their-impact-childrens-development. Accessed [May 31,2016].

 

 

Helping Children Navigate Hard Situations

Do you remember being taught at school that plants need light to grow?  It is actually not true! How else do you think seeds manage to sprout and push up through the soil before they reach the surface?

“Mom, I don’t want you to die, too,” said my 6-year-old one night. It was a bad night. Her dad was sleeping on the sofa in the living room while I tried to help her fall asleep in our bedroom.

My husband, Joe, wasn’t dead but he sure looked like he was going to die. He had just been released from the hospital after surgery to remove part of his colon. For a month prior to the operation, he maintained a liquid diet to make sure his intestines wouldn’t rupture. Because of the danger of the surgery, we needed to buy as much time as possible for a better chance at a safe procedure with a good outcome.

He survived the surgery and now he was home. Still, somehow my daughter was verbalizing what I was feeling – Joe looked half-dead and I was falling apart.

Anxiety was keeping my daughter awake. This was her first time experiencing the nearness of death so personally. She needed to hear my comforting words affirming that her daddy was going to be okay.

I couldn’t say the words she needed to hear. I had no idea if my husband was going to survive this ordeal or not. He was in a lot of pain, down to 147 pounds, and unhooked from the IV and antibiotics that had helped him look more alive in the hospital.

What can we do to help our children grow in the midst of dark times?GROWING IN THE DARK | UNDETERRED.NET | ONEHOPE | LEIIZA GOMES

Be an example to your children. You have heard this before: “Children are little sponges.” Well, they are! They will learn from you and incorporate what they see into their own lives. Teach them that they can find real peace in the darkest of times. But you can’t show them what you don’t have. Let them see you seeking God for peace. Seek Him together. This will be one of the most important life lessons you can teach your children.

“The LORD gives strength to his people; the LORD blesses his people with peace.”
Psalm 29:11

Be honest with your children. Talk about your feelings and your situation. Be a good listener and point them to the promises we have in Christ. God doesn’t want us to be frightened of the future.

Death is a hard topic for children, but it is a reality in all of our futures. God created a perfect world for us but sin corrupted it bringing sickness and death. And while that made God sad, He made a plan! Those who accept Christ as their personal Savior are going to live eternally with Christ in heaven. No eye has seen, no ear has heard and no mind has ever even thought up what heaven is going to be like.[1] Our children need to hear this story and the hope of its ending.

Be consistent with your children. Show your children that we can always come to God no matter whether the problem is big or small. Remind them that God says we can come to him and He listens to us. He is our ever-present help in time of trouble.2 In your dark night, come to   God’s throne with your child to find the measure of mercy and grace you so desperately need.

“Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” Hebrews 4:16

In our somber night God heard us.

Praise God Julee’s dad is now fully recovered! And she has been sleeping well ever since. While it was painful to watch her go through such a hard situation, it was beautiful to watch her tiny faith grow as, together, we fought fear with truth and experienced peace that can only come from God.

Here are some more great verses you share with a child who is going through a tough time:

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Leiza Gomes | OneHope | Undeterred.netLeiza Gomes has a passion to see children and youth find their true identity and purpose in Christ. Together with her husband, she served in overseas missions with youth in Germany and at-risk youth and children in Brazil. Leiza is both a graduate from the International School of Ministry in Boca Raton, FL and of Florida Atlantic University with a Bachelor’s in Multimedia Journalism. She currently works as a Project Design Manager developing tools to share the Gospel with children and youth around world with OneHope.


[1] 1 Corinthians 2:9
2 Psalm 46:1