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Holy Spirit

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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How to Handle a “Church is boring” Attitude

“Church is boring, I don’t want to go.”

Your perfectly blissful Sunday morning comes to a screeching halt as your oldest utters those dreadful words.

Just five minutes ago, your hands were wrapped snuggly around a mug as you inhaled the life-giving scent of fresh-brewed coffee. The serenity of a perfect Sunday morning was complete with fresh-baked pumpkin bread and two giggling children at your kitchen table. Fast forward five minutes and you feel like you’ve entered the twilight zone.

From the comfort of his bed, your oldest continues by explaining that since he has just turned twelve, he gets to decide if he wants to go to church or not.

Do you laugh? Cry? Yell? Do all three?

You’re racking your brain for an appropriate response to this shocking defiance. Suddenly, the Holy Spirit does what He always does. He whispers truth, comfort, and love into your sometimes overly dramatic thoughts. “It’s just a phase,” He says. “Be kind,” He says. You take a deep breath and gently convince your son that he is going to church; you are the parent, and he is the child. That is that.

Parenting a child who refuses to go to church can be tough, but there’s hope. The Holy Spirit and God’s Word reminds us that “…we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved.” Hebrews 10:39 Make that verse your battle cry for the trying phases of parenting.

Church is Boring

Five effective ways to pursue your child’s heart when they’re struggling with a “church is boring” attitude…

  • Pray. One mom put it best when she said, “We have a direct line of communication to the God who created our children and chose to put them under our care.”[1] God’s Word tells us to give our burdens, including our anxious and worrisome thoughts, to Him and to simply pray; pray hard! Philippians 4:6.
  • Don’t give up. 1 Corinthians 15:58 says, “Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” When you feel like giving up, don’t. Rest in knowing that He hears, knows, and loves both you and your children.
  • Speak life. Proverbs 18:21 says, “The tongue has the power of life and death….” Never underestimate the power of your words. It was amazing to watch parents handle a child who was struggling with whether or not he even believed God existed. They never criticized or scolded him. Instead, they told him Jesus still loved him. They spoke encouragement; they spoke life.
  • Crown them. Refusing to go to church with the rest of your family can automatically make a child feel like an outcast. They may be “proud” of their newfound rebel status, but don’t let them push you away. Instead, “crown” them. Psalm 103:4 says that the Lord “crowns [us] with lovingkindness and tender mercies”. The Lord pursues us and loves us in every season of our relationship with Him. In tough seasons, follow Christ’s example and “crown” your children with unconditional love.
  • Check your church. Maybe the reason they don’t want to go to church is because your church makes Jesus seem boring. Maybe the other kids aren’t very nice, or maybe their youth leader is insensitive or hypocritical. Ask your child to give specific reasons for not wanting to go to church, and be willing to change churches for the sake of your child’s relationship with the Lord. “Check” your church, and do what needs to be done.

Five Effective Ways

When the “church is boring” day comes, take comfort in the fact that the Lord knows and loves our children better and deeper than we ever could. He wants to empower us as parents during a time when we need His power the most. Trust God’s sovereignty, and pursue your children in faith!

Related:


[1] http://www.todayschristianwoman.com/articles/2014/march/when-your-child-doesnt-like-church.html?start=1

Parenting Into Grace

My 9 year old son asked me a tough parenting question as I walked out of his bedroom last night.

We had just finished our pre-bed routine, and after a new story from the Bible App for Kids, a couple of sibling pot-shots at his older sister, and a short bedtime prayer, I was reaching for the light switch when his pensive, little brain conjured up this inquiry:

“Dad, sometimes I have bad thoughts run through my head. I can’t make them stop. I try to make them stop, but they just keep coming. How do I make them go away?”

Whoa.

In one short interrogative, my 4th grader stumbled squarely into the greatest issue we face as human beings. Sin isn’t just a list of the bad things that we do, it’s a disease rooted deep inside us.

Last year, I was diagnosed with a blood disorder. The antibodies that normally fight off infection issued a unilateral executive order that the platelets in my blood were now foreign objects that needed to be destroyed. This screwed up reaction causes my blood to clot when it isn’t supposed to. Scabs around a wound stop dangerous bleeding, but scabs floating freely through in the veins and arteries in your head stops….well…life.

I use this analogy to explain sin to my kids. It’s like a blood disease. It’s inside of us. We were born into it. And it isn’t something we can cure by ourselves.

So how do we step into a question like this with our kids? We parent them into grace.

  • The Law (God’s holiness) is meant to crush us.
  • The Gospel (Jesus’ death and resurrection) raises us up.
  • The Holy Spirit (God’s promised gift to the redeemed) empowers us for righteousness.

This is the Good News!

But in our desire to be both perfect and loving parents, we sometimes respond with two unfortunate mistakes. In my son’s case those might look something like this:

It’s okay buddy, God’s love is big. Don’t worry about it.

Or…

What?! (Schwartz!) You can’t do that! Exercise some self-control! No television or video games for a month!

Problem #1: Our sin is not okay. Let me say that again. Our. Sin. Is. Not. O. K. Brokenness is part of the human condition, no doubt. And surrendering to the fact that you’re broken is the beginning of hope and healing. But no matter what this culture of tolerance and acceptance is telling you, your sin, my sin, our sin, is not something God overlooks. And it won’t stand up under the weight of God’s holiness. Don’t tell your kids that it will. The solution to our sin is not the removal of God’s standard. Let the Law crush them.

Problem #2: We can’t fix ourselves. Self-control is a fruit of the Spirit. It doesn’t originate in us, it originates in the work of Christ on our behalf. Sharing Jesus with our kids solely as an example to emulate will do them in. Showing them Jesus as a Savior will bring them life! As Tim Keller so poignantly says it, “The key question in order to change you is not ‘What would Jesus do? but What has Jesus done for you?

My son stumbled quietly toward a beautiful truth last night. His “blood disorder” was producing bad things in his heart and mind and he knew it was wrong (the Law was beginning to crush him). Where we parent our kids from that point becomes the key question.

The Law crushes. The Gospel raises up. The Spirit empowers.

Let’s parent them into that grace. I wish I always got this right, but I guess that’s why I desperately need this message, too.


 

Cooper BioErik Cooper is the vice-president of Community Reinvestment Foundation, Inc., a non-profit that mobilizes business to create sustainable revenue for missions work all over the world. He blogs regularly about life, ministry, business, and missions at http://beyondtherisk.com.

 

 

 

From Russia With Love

Being a teacher is a true mission. At the core of any good teacher is the passion to be a blessing to their students. And the truth is that not everyone can be a teacher. Because not everyone has a heart for the imperfections and faults of others, can accept them as they are, and constantly give their best to their students loving them no matter what. That is not an easy calling. And yet I believe that God does not give tasks beyond one’s strength. That means He gives teachers special talents.

As a teacher, leader or parent, I believe God has equipped you with the ability and strength to inspire children. You are called to help them learn about the Lord, understand the Word of God, and edify them with love. The more you do it, the stronger each experience makes you, emboldening you to invite more young people to experience the truth in God’s Word.

John 2-13-14 says:

“I am writing to you, young men,
because you have overcome the evil one.
I write to you, children,
because you know the Father.

I write to you, young men,
because you are strong,
and the word of God abides in you,
and you have overcome the evil one.”

I believe that our children are bright and strong in trusting God to make the impossible possible. They are ready to accept the promises of God, and they will use God’s power to destroy the devil’s work.

The Holy Spirit is your helper and counselor in a variety of situations.

There will be times when our emotions overflow, our minds get cloudy and we struggle to find wisdom in tough situations. In these moments, I challenge you to let the Holy Spirit embrace your heart and remind you how much God loves you. When you let the Lord guide you and reveal His wisdom, later on you can testify that the only good sense that has helped you was God’s wisdom.

On the day you answered God’s call to work with and minister to children, you walked to the front lines on the battlefield for the minds and hearts of our children.

Your dreams are God-given. Stick to your dreams and say to God, “If you gave me this dream or goal, please give me the strength and Your guidance, directions and abilities, Lord! Please give me the power to achieve these goals.” Many of you will succeed, but not because you are smarter or more capable than others, but because you have learned to trust God.

The key to the successfully leading others to Christ is your diligence in everything. You must have a transparent and true relationship with God. Read His Word, pray to Him, trust Him, and He will fulfill your dream.

From Russia With Love-02

My prayer for those working with children and youth:

May God provide you with good sense and wisdom in your outreaches.

May He send His blessing on your ways, and protect you as His own people.

I pray that God gives you a special grace, a special blessing, so you can follow His wisdom when making decisions.

May God help you sweep your heart of any wrongs or troubles.

May our Savior bestow on you His protection from emotional wounds, so that you can live to glorify His name.

Let your teaching be as light, bright as the sun rays and blessed by God.

Adapted from his Address to Teachers and Children’s Ministers on Russia’s National Day of Knowledge, September 2014

 


Eduard GrabovenkoWhen he was 21, God called Edward, a native of Ukraine, to the unreached region of Perm in the Ural Mountains of Russia – a large area famous for its prisons and lack of Christian witness. After graduating from Bible school in 1991, Bishop Edward started the New Testament Church in the city of Perm.

In the last twenty years, his church has grown to 4,500 people.

In 1997 he was ordained the Bishop of Perm Region. In December 2009, Edward was elected to become the Head Bishop of the Russian Church of Christians of Evangelical Faith (Pentecostal Union). Today the Russian Church of Christians of Evangelical Faith accounts for over 2300 churches all over Russia.

The vision of Bishop Edward and the Russian Church of Christians of Evangelical Faith is to reach every community in Russia with the Gospel and to plant churches.  He has established a ministry called “One Year for Jesus” and young people from all over the nation travel to the unreached villages and towns bringing the message that Jesus Christ brings freedom.