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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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Soccer + Scripture: #Teamwork | Part 3

In soccer, like most sports, there are many ways to approach a game. A wide spectrum of tactics and play styles are available, and coaches like to develop their own philosophy about the game. They are often determined to select a style of play that will both define them and their team. All the time hoping and praying that their particular brand of soccer will bring success. But here’s what is interesting: seldom do you find a style of play that highlights just an individual player. Usually teamwork is the thing that is both emphasized and regarded in high esteem.

There have been several “soccer philosophies” throughout the years. A team from England called Wimbledon had a meteoric rise from non-league soccer to winning the oldest domestic cup competition in the world—the F.A. Cup. Their philosophy was what we call the “long ball.”  Simply thump the ball up field to your attacker and then bust a gut trying to support him. It often caused chaos, but that was often the key to its effectiveness. In the mid-90’s Everton FC had a rather low-skilled squad, but with plenty of heart. Managed by Joe Royle, this team fought for each other, and were affectionately labeled “The Dogs of War”. This ethos of teamwork characterized the entire team and resulted in them claiming the F.A. Cup in 1995. And then we have what is probably the greatest soccer style—when executed correctly—the short quick passing along the ground. Whether that is Brian Clough’s teams of the 70’s that believed the “ball travels faster than the man” or the Johan Cruyff inspired Barcelona of the new millennium with their “Tiki-Taka” one touch soccer. When a team is moving the ball along the ground at pace, it is poetry in motion. Not to mention expending less manpower because you are playing smarter rather than harder.

Soccer + Scripture | Undeterred.net

All these strategies about good game play remind me of what King Solomon said in Ecclesiastes 4:9-10:

“Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble.”

Similar to the previously mentioned soccer tactics, we should endeavor to not work in silos. When we are determined to achieve a result by our own effort, while rejecting the help of others, we place ourselves in a poor position. Like the “Dogs of War,” the power in supporting teammates, friends or colleagues produces unbelievable victories. We can help each other through some difficult circumstances and pick each other up when we fall. It is the same with “Tiki-Taka” play style. You can conserve so much energy, last longer, go further and finish stronger. It is like that old African proverb,

“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

Teamwork is of vital importance in our Christian walk. We were not designed to be alone or work alone. We cannot succeed as the lone star of the team—we must work together.

“Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” Ecclesiastes 4:12

As you are parenting or mentoring a child to be a great team player, remind them that teamwork requires people to work cooperatively with others towards a shared purpose.

  • Talk about how great it feels to be a part of a team, and how upsetting it is to be excluded. Then encourage your child to look for those who are often left out and make sure they are invited.
  • Being competitive is admirable, but being a great sport and having a positive attitude in any situation is a great way to be a good witness to teammates and onlookers.
  • Practice teaming up by working on a project together at home—it could be artwork that everyone contributes to, planting a garden or coming up with a service project.
  • Play a board game in teams.
  • Organize a friendly game in your yard or park and have a chat beforehand on what it takes to be a good team and how each player can achieve excellent teamwork. Then extoll it when you see it!

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David GoundryRev. David Goundry was born in England before moving to the United States. He uses his abilities to teach, mentor and “prepare those who will go.” He enjoys traveling to many countries with the message of Jesus Christ to the children and youth of the world as well as an “ever-present” on foreign medical missions through International Christian Institute. David and his wife Luiza serve together in the music ministry at their church and have two children, Sarah and Samuel.

Help kids go from complaining to content in 60 seconds

Recently my fashionista daughter was struggling with her outfit for church. And by “struggling” I mean complaining that she did not have shoes that “matched” her outfit.

My hippie child is morphing into a hipster daughter…the one who NEVER matches. She is fearless in what she wears–loud colors and prints mish-mashed together, even layered to achieve her intended look. So when she complained that she had no shoes to match her outfit, I was truly at a loss.

I cocked my head and looked at her hard for a minute. The issue wasn’t with the matching; the “issue” was something deeper.

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We lined up the four pairs of summer shoes she had to choose from and picked the “least awful” pair–some plain black flip-flops.

Then we sat down and had a chat:

me: Look at your flip flops. Can you think of three things about them that you are thankful for?

her: <haughtily> I have shoes.

me: Yes. I can’t tell you how many children I’ve seen in poorer countries who don’t have a single pair of shoes, much less four pairs to choose from. What else?

her: <a tiny bit less haughtily>They aren’t broken yet.

me: That is something to be thankful for. Do you know that in some places, you are not allowed to go to school unless you have a uniform and shoes? Some kids want to go to school so much that they wear broken flip flops or shoes that are too small and hurt their feet. It’s a privilege to have shoes that are not broken and fit you perfectly. Can you think of one more thing?

her: <begrudgingly> They are comfortable.

me: Who gave you those shoes?

her: God.

me: How do you think it made God feel that you complained about the good shoes He gave you?

her: Sad.

I was proud that she had come to a solid conclusion and could see the effect of her actions. By turning situations where we are prone to complain into a time to practice observing at least three ways we can be thankful instead, we are teaching our children to live out Ephesians 5:20:

“Always give thanks to God the Father for everything. Give thanks to him in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

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Jenna has been in love with words all her life—especially God’s Word that helped her realize her need for a Savior in the first grade. She loves using words to help advance the message of OneHope. She is married to Dan and has 4 children ages 8, 10, 11 & 13.

Who can get your teen to behave?

Every teen is an enigma. Yet, we’ve found a global norm among teens around the world.

Over the course of 4 years, more than 152,000 13-19-year-olds in 44 countries on five continents responded to our teen research study, answering questions about their lives and beliefs. Our Spiritual State of the World’s Children research examines the true daily life of teens and trends around the world.

What we discovered is that family life is one of the biggest influences of teen behavior. The research suggests that regardless of family makeup, it is the degree of positive family experience that determines positive outcomes – fewer instances of substance use, sexual behavior and suicidal thoughts, as well as increased academic drive.

This trifecta of positive family experience, involvement in a faith community, and engagement in religious texts all contribute to positive outcomes and increased vibrancy in teens. And universally, family is key.

ABY Family Vibrancy-01

What do you think is the most important thing a family can do to help raise spiritually strong teens?

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updated 4/16

 

Is God’s Word Enough for Our Kids? Part 2

Read part 1 

A young woman getting ready to enter the mission field many years ago asked my mom for her best piece of advice. Mom told her, “You have to be flexible and creative.” It was great advice then, and it’s been solid for our ministry undertakings as well.

Through the years, we’ve had to find ways to share the power of God’s Word in innovative and creative ways. Here are a just a few:

How We Are Reaching Every Child with God’s Word

Film. In 2005, OneHope came up with a way to reach the illiterate, preliterate, and alliterate with the Gospel story through the medium of film. Each of the 11 versions of The GodMan has live-action introductions and conclusions that feature a relatable story line of characters speaking the local language where the film will be viewed—an innovative first. In addition to The GodMan, we have utilized short films contextualized to specific cultures including:

  • En Tus Manos (In Your Hands) follows the struggle of a boy growing up in a violent neighborhood in Bogota, Colombia.
  • Paper Flower Set in fast-paced Tokyo, Paper Flower follows two girls on very different paths as they try to get what they think they want. Paper Flower tackles some of the most dire and serious issues that Japanese teens face: suicide, enjo kōsai—or “compensated dating” as it is referred to in Japan—and family honor.
  • Before Dark tells the story of a jaded child soldier struggling to fight for the life he was destined to live, not the one that was forced upon him
  • Running Deer follows a Native American teen named Tyler as he is caught at a crossroads between moving on from life in his small town and facing the hard realities at home with the people who mean the most to him.

Storytelling. Ministry leaders reported the struggle of kids not returning to church programs after their first few visits. OneHope looked into the challenge and created God’s Big Story—a program that helps children learn Bible stories and uncover the underlying message of redemption and restoration through a series of illustrated cards. One story is told every week at the Bible club, and a card is given out illustrating that week’s story. A teaser for the following week’s story and invitation to return to hear it and collect the next card in the series helps boost return rates. The curriculum has seen incredible results, significantly raising program retention and helping better reach children in oral storytelling cultures.

Thematic programs such as Foundations for Farming, a program that equips teachers to train students about no-till farming from a Biblical perspective, are currently in the works. Curricula like this not only provide opportunities for students to increase in knowledge that will help them and their community survive and thrive, but also to actively engage with God’s Word. The same goes for our Hygiene Matters program, where schoolchildren learn life-saving information about good hygiene practices to prevent or treat intestinal worm infections. More importantly the material addresses the deepest need of their hearts— their need for salvation through God’s Word.

Sports. A universal language in any country around the world is the basis for programs and materials that equip soccer and cricket coaches to engage their players in Scripture. The Bible metanarrative is presented in conjunction with foundational sport skills and life skills as part of a 16-session program helping children understand a relationship with God along with 16 other important life skills such as integrity, self-control, leadership, confidence, and perseverance.

Digital. Today, we are developing innovative tools for this generation of digital natives, including the Bible App for Kids­—a free Bible storybook app now also a print storybook Bible developed in partnership with YouVersion. These innovative programs are bringing children’s ministries around the globe to the next level of what is needed to reach children and youth in today’s tech-savvy world.

As we contextualize the Gospel to a variety of situations, we remain undeterred in our mission to reach every child with God’s Word, because it is our conviction that God’s Word is enough for this generation—and every one that will come after it.

Do you believe that too? Let us know in the comments section below and share your story about how you are helping kids be undeterred.

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Rob-01Rob was born to missionary parents, which is where his passion to spread the truth in God’s Word began. Rob has served with OneHope (formerly Book of Hope) for over 22 years, and been president since 2004. His leadership, coupled with the implementation of an innovative Outcome-Based Ministry (OBM) model, has expanded the literature distribution ministry to include a rapidly growing catalogue of innovative mediums. He and his family, wife- Kim, daughters- Diandra and Natasha, live near OneHope’s global headquarters in Pompano Beach, Florida, but their hearts beat on every continent around the world.

 

Is God’s Word Enough For Our Kids? Part 1

OneHope began in 1987 with the Book of Hope—a contextualized harmonization of the Gospel for kids! At the time, no other ministry was going to such lengths to make sure children received a copy of the Good News they could easily understand. From the get-go, we have continued to innovate resources for churches and organizations around the world to use to share the Good News.

As social justice started becoming an increasingly popular movement, people began challenging us on whether providing God’s Word to children and youth is enough.

Maybe you have also asked yourself this question too. Is God’s Word really enough to save a child—for today as well as for eternity? Enough to radically change lives in the here and now? Enough to make a difference in life’s day-to-day realities?

Our answer to that question is multi-faceted, but starts off with a resounding YES. We believe that God’s Word is more than enough; it is beyond what each of us deserves (Romans 6:23). God’s Word is powerful and alive (Hebrews 4:12). Presenting people with the Gospel message and giving them a chance to accept and believe in Jesus is the only “thing” we can give that will introduce them to the One who can truly transform their lives (Ephesians 2:8).

The Gospel Instead of a Roof

At OneHope, we want to alter destinies, not just modify current circumstances. Tiffany’s story is one that we love to share because it speaks into the inter-related topics of social and spiritual justice.

Tiffany received our 50 millionth copy of the Book of Hope in 1999. The OneHope team walked her home to celebrate the exciting milestone. Her community was a congested and dirty alleyway filled with makeshift scrap houses. The celebrants arrived to find the roof to her house being repossessed because her father had failed to make the roof payment.

There were several organizations working in the area that helped people with housing, but instead of providing Tiffany with a new roof, we had provided her with God’s Word. Tiffany became a Christian and this started a domino effect as she shared her faith with her family.

Not only did her mother accept Christ, but her father finally did too. Her father’s conversion helped him beat his alcohol addiction, which in turn enabled him to return to work and support his family, including paying for the roof. The entire family was healed in a chain reaction to our handing Tiffany the Book of Hope.

As her story illustrates, the Gospel is the best long-term solution we could hope to give to people like Tiffany. In hindsight, providing a roof would have simply covered her family’s problems, hiding the hurt and abuse going on inside that home. Instead, God’s Word opened up and addressed the root of their problems, setting her family on a trajectory of healing and hope for the future.

Social Justice vs. Spiritual Justice

There are thousands of “Tiffanys” out there; her story is actually quite average. But it affirms the research that teens who become involved with a faith community, are engaged with the Bible, and have a life-changing encounter with Jesus can be permanently transformed.

There is no justice—social or spiritual—without Jesus.

Proclaiming the Gospel and providing compassionate relief BOTH constitute evangelism. And both are important. But until we treat the root cause of problems, we will only be providing temporary aid and not affecting lasting life-change.

Our tagline is God’s Word. Every Child. That’s a tall order, but one we are passionate about fulfilling. We have always believed that if we could share God’s Word with every child the world would be drastically different.

In order to reach every child, we need to speak their language. That means leveraging a variety of mediums and formats to make Scripture engaging and relevant for a variety of ages and situations.

Next… how we are reaching every child with God’s Word.

Related:


 

About the Author:

Rob-01Rob was born to missionary parents, which is where his passion to spread the truth in God’s Word began. Rob has served with OneHope (formerly Book of Hope) for over 22 years, and been president since 2004. His leadership, coupled with the implementation of an innovative Outcome-Based Ministry (OBM) model, has expanded the literature distribution ministry to include a rapidly growing catalogue of innovative mediums. He and his family, wife- Kim, daughters- Diandra and Natasha, live near OneHope’s global headquarters in Pompano Beach, Florida, but their hearts beat on every continent around the world.

 

How to use Bible App for Kids

We’ve made it easy to help children best know how to use the Bible App for Kids using this simple guide!

  1. Download the app.

It’s free, educational and honorable.

BAK-09Search “Bible for Kids” and look for the Jesus icon in your app store.

 

  1. Encourage your child to play it OFTEN

It takes repeating information 5-7 times before it is memorized. This app is designed so players must read each story at least 3 times to receive 3 stars. In-story collectibles keep inviting players to return and experience each story multiple times.

How to BAK-05

 

  1. Read the story from the Bible. Before you play the story, you can read the actual Scripture the story comes from! Just tap the Scripture highlighted above the read button.

How to BAK-06

The Bible App automatically guides you to the Scripture referenced in the story.

How to BAK-07

 

  1. Talk about the story. Questions you can ask to discuss any of the stories in the Bible App for Kids are:
  •  Who is this story about?How to BAK-04
  • Did the person in the story need or want something?
  • Did anyone in the story change?
  • What is something you learned about Jesus?
  • What were the good and bad things that happened in the story?
  • What is the meaning of this story?
  • Why is this story important?
  • How can you connect this story to your own life?

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6 Bible verses to build a child’s confidence

A child’s self-esteem begins to develop at age 3 or 4[1]

Parents have a huge responsibility of speaking life into their children’s lives and to ensure that, like other parts of their development, their self-esteem is growing and thriving. Without healthy development, a child’s spirit will likely shrivel up and life will become a monotonous routine.

UNDETERRED.NET | KID'S SELF ESTEEMHealthy self-esteem in a child’s life must be rooted in Jesus and His Word.

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10

Satan wants nothing more than for our children to consistently look for self-esteem in all the wrong places. He wants to steal, kill, and destroy every part of our child’s spirit and joy. But the “I” referenced in John 10:10 is the one that came to give life, and not just life, but a life filled to the brim with joy, hope, and love. The “I” is Jesus. The “I” is the One who whispers love and draws us to Himself and His love letter, the Bible.

“Kids don’t need self-esteem, they need God-esteem. If they esteem God they will understand their value but not make too much of themselves.” –Dannah Gresh

UNDETERRED.NET | BIBLICAL SELF-ESTEEM FOR CHILDREN

Next time you see your son or daughter slumping into feelings of insecurity based on other’s opinions of him or her, remind them of the Truth found in the Bible.

  • They are created in the “image of God” Himself Genesis 1:27
  • They are flawless in God’s eyes Song of Solomon 4:7 because
  • They are the “workmanship” of a perfect God Ephesians 2:10
  • They were created with intention and on purpose! Down to every last hair on their head Luke 12:7
  • God created them and knows them better than they know themselves. They are His children 1 John 3:1
  • They are more valuable than they will ever realize Matthew 10:31

The world defines self-esteem as “a feeling of having respect for yourself and your abilities”[2]. While others struggle towards this healthy sense of self-worth, the Bible places all of those “feelings” in the person of God. It says our self-esteem is all about Jesus, and it’s not a feeling; it’s a fact.

Teach your children to see themselves through the eyes of the One who created them from the pages of His book. Using the Bible as the basis for self-esteem will help develop a humble, God-fearing spirit that roots their confidence in Christ alone.

Click the button below to download a worksheet your child can use to look up verses in the Bible and build their self-esteem!

BUTTONS-08

Print out and decorate this truth. Hang it on a mirror as a reminder that God has made you amazing! Memorize this verse and be sure to share it with others who might be struggling with their self-worth.

PSALM 139 | UNDETERRED.NET | SCRIPTURE COLORING SHEET

Get a coloring sheet version of this verse by clicking the button below!

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[1] http://raisingchildren.net.au/articles/self-esteem_different_ages.html
[2] http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/self-esteem

Reading to Kids Increases Their Intelligence

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Research Finds: Reading Bible to Kids can Increase their Intelligence, Social skills, & More! Here’s Why & How!

Most Christians believe that reading the Bible is “good for them.” Yet so many people still struggle getting “into it.” And if you struggle, don’t sweat it! I just wrote a blog last week on how to “get addicted” to Bible reading. But did you know that you can increase your child or grandchild’s intelligence, empathy, social skills and coping skills by simply reading the Bible with them? AND, this can be fun too! (I realize, it sounds too good to be true). But by the end of this blog, I want to show you 3 simple ways to birth a desire in your kids’ hearts for God’s Word – not to mention score a few parenting points.

(1). Don’t Fight Technology: Use it! One of the most common questions I hear from parents is this: “How do you deal with technology?” Obviously, families need to be smarter than ever when it comes to video-games, internet use, and social media. Ninety percent of kids today (ages 8 to 16 years old) have viewed porn online. 1  Even worse, following first exposure, the largest consumer group of internet pornography is boys between the ages of 12-17! (2).

Keep in mind, exposure to porn directly increases a child’s likelihood of depression, violence, sexual discontentment, eating disorders, anger, and dissatisfaction with future partners. [Heres another blog on this].  Even worse, Porn saturates far more kid-oriented social media than ever before. To make technology more complicated, research shows that the average 8-18 year old spends an average of 7 hours and 38 minutes using entertainment media on a typical day (more than 53 hours a week) (3).  It’s estimated that preschoolers spend an average of at least 2.2 hours to as much as 4.6 hours per day looking at a screen.

A lot of parents try to fight it by simply forbidding it or limiting it. But unless your plan is to become Amish, at some point, your strategy is going to need a change. Technology is everywhere. Thankfully, I realized early on that a strategy of techno-denial wasn’t going to bode well with my three kids (especially when I discovered my 11-year old already had over 3000 instagram followers). So I quickly learned: If I want to be an effective parent of my three kids, I need to embrace the heck out of it.

For example, we actually created rules like: No one plays video games alone for longer than 30 minutes/day. Did I want to play every single Lego videogame ever created? No! But I had hundreds of parenting moments when I did. Did I want to learn the intricacies of Clash of Clans or Minecraft? No. But after we rebuilt our own Mindcraft model of Venice… which my son accidentally deleted… I had a sequence of Fathering moments that my kids will never forget. In the end, research ironically shows that the “social isolation” of technology causes far more negative outcomes than exposure to violence. So when parents “lean in” to their kids technological interests, you’ll actually find a world of incredible parenting moments.

Even better, there are organizations that are cleverly learning how to use technology for scripture engagement. For example, the amazing missions organization OneHope has been brilliantly studying kids for years – tirelessly creating tools like the Bible App for Kids – (which, by the way, in just 2 years, this app has surpassed over 8 million downloads in every country of the world). So be aware of stuff like this! My son has gotten hooked on the Bible App for hours! & trust me: I’m not complaining about his “time on technology” when he’s learning the Bible. But here’s a few other ways to parent our kids while birthing a deeper desire for the Bible:

(2). Create a Bedtime Ritual with Reading: For those who know Carolyn and me, we try to log at least 30-90 minutes with each of our kids every school night. I am NOT a fan of any extra-curriculars that decrease family time. So, we spend most evenings either reading with our kids (when they were younger) or simply flopping on their beds watching Youtube videos or other nonsense. In the end, it usually takes an hour of nonsense to earn 10 minutes of good parenting time.
But here’s why: Research shows that reading with our kids produces a huge number of positive child-outcomes: Beyond the common sense benefits of reading with our kids, studies show, when we read to our kids, it increases intelligence, social skills, empathy and coping skills. Besides, leaders are readers. (I realize that I’m preaching to the choir here : )
Interestingly, OneHope (who co-created the Bible App for Kids) found that, “parents still prefer print copies of the book for their children.” According to Digital Book World and literacy nonprofit Sesame Workshop, less than 10% of kids and parents alike choose ebooks over print books. So, despite the wild success of OneHope’s app: The reality is that there are no apps that can replace our laps. Kids love to interact with their parents. So make sure you’re doing it.


AI_Image-01(3). Use Resources like “The Bible App for Kids Storybook Bible
” – My nine-year old son has literally devoured the print version of this. If you don’t have a good Bible for your youngsters, just go ahead an get this. In fact, my son will even start reading it even before we get to his bedroom.
Of course, if your kids are older, mix it up with spiritual growth books that appeal to their curiosity. Our teenaged girls loved reading “Heaven is for Real.” And when they got sick of the classic “Sunday School Bible stories,” I loved reading some of the Rated R stories to them. Try reading the book of Judges with your teenagers sometime. WOW. Interesting convos!EXPERIENCE THE STORY

To help make studying God’s Word together as a family awesome, our friends at OneHope also created Experience the Story. It’s a family devotional that’s a companion to the Bible App for Kids. The devotional pairs five character traits with corresponding Bible stories, and is 66 full-color pages of fun, interactive activities designed for both older and younger children!BUTTON-02

But here’s my point: Don’t be passive about the Bible or technology with your kids. There is no school, app, or church program that could ever be a substitute for good parenting. But, if you use these tools well, your whole family will feel a deeper passion for God and his word.


PeterPeter Haas and his wife, Carolyn are the lead pastors of Substance Church in Minneapolis, MN.  Peter also speaks to church planters and pastors all over the globe as he serves on the lead team of the Association of Related Churches. He is the author of two books: Pharisectomy: how to remove your inner Pharisee and other religiously transmitted diseases, and Broken Escalators: funny & frightful lessons about moth eating and moving to the next level. Beyond family & church, his next greatest passions are music, film & comedy. Playing just about every instrument from cello to electric guitar, Peter spends most of his free time in his recording studio spinning EDM on his turntables or scoring classical film soundtracks. Peter currently resides in Minneapolis with his wife Carolyn and their three kids. Visit peterhaas.org or substancechurch.com to download books, sermons & other free resources. You may also follow him on twitter and instagram at: peterhaas1.

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Citations:

1. Most of these exposures happened while doing homework – Dr. Douglass Weiss, PhD., Clean: A Proven Plan for Men Committed to Sexual Integrity: Thomas Nelson, 2013; (pg. 17).

2. Cited on http://stoppornculture.org/about/about-the-issue/facts-and-figures-2/

3.  http://kff.org/other/event/generation-m2-media-in-the-lives-of/)