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Help Wanted: Looking for Someone to Make My Kids Love the Bible

WOWM - Tips and Encouragement

This is a guest post by Jessica Thompson and is part of Women of the Word Month, a free 31-day campaign designed to encourage and equip women for transformative Bible study. Learn more or sign up at crossway.org/women.

Help Wanted

Help Wanted: Looking for someone to make my children understand and love the Bible. My husband and I have tried everything, from bribery to anger to manipulation and they don’t seemed interested at all. If you can take on three kids, ages 5-10 and instill in them a love for God’s Word. I will pay you $100 per week.

I would never actually put an ad like this on Craigslist, but I have been tempted. It is unbelievably frustrating and hopeless to spend time reading a devotional or the Bible to your children to find out at the end of it that two of the kids were playing rock, scissors, paper under the table and the other one had fallen asleep (that explains why they were so quiet and “attentive”).

As Christian parents, we hope that our children will say with David and with us, “In the way of your testimonies I delight as much as in all riches . . . my soul is consumed with longing for your rules at all times” (Ps. 119:14, 20).

Examining Our Own Hearts

Now stop, read those verses again and ask yourself this question: Do I even do that? I know I personally don’t. There are mornings, weeks, and months when my heart is hard and indifferent to the Bible. There are mornings, weeks, and months when I am distracted and would rather do anything but sit and meditate on the Word of God.

So my question to you is, “Why do we expect our children to be any different than we are?” And yet, we do . . . and then we get angry and depressed when they don’t seem to care. Only a true believer’s heart would want to read or understand the Bible, and, at times, we expect our children—who may not be believer—to act as though they are. Let’s get real honest here: we might even force our children into a charade of sorts, showering them with praise the more they act like they are enjoying their devotional time.

Please hear me: it is good and right to read the Bible with your children; it is good and right to share your love for God’s Word. However, we can’t force our kids into the kingdom of God.

Help from Above

There is One who can fill that “help wanted” ad above. It’s actually his job, not ours.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. (Romans 15:13)

It is the Holy Spirit’s job to make your children love Jesus and love the Bible. And it’s his job to do that in your life, too. You can trust Him to do His work.

Practical Tips

But what can we do to make it easier for our kids to love God’s Word, instead of merely forcing it on them?

First and most importantly, pray . . . and not just during devotions. And don’t pray the “guilt prayer” while seated around the table: “God, help these children stop messing around. Help them to sit still because you love kids who listen.” Rather, pray like Paul prayed. Ask God to help your kids come to know his unfathomable love for them and that they would consequently come to love His Word.

Second, don’t make the Bible out to be a book of morality. That isn’t the message of Christianity. The Bible is the story of God’s unrelenting, redeeming love for sinners. Do your children know that? Do you know that? Or have we reduced God’s Word to a bunch rules and regulations?

I know I don’t want to read a list rules. But give me an action-packed story about a good King fighting for his people and I’m hooked.

Last, remember their salvation isn’t up to you. This realization will free you to enjoy them and your devotional time with them, even if they don’t. Their response to the Word doesn’t define you as a parent.

Simply put, trust God when it comes to helping your kids understand and love the Bible. He’s the help you’re looking for.

Jessica Thompson is the author of Exploring Grace Together: 40 Devotionals for the Family and the coauthor (with Elyse Fitzpatrick) of Give Them Grace: Dazzling Your Kids with the Love of Jesus. She is a wife, a mother of three, and a member of an Acts 29 church.



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Video: Jani Ortlund on Staying in the Word as a Young Mom

WOWM - Personal Story

This video with Jani Ortlund is part of Women of the Word Month, a free 31-day campaign designed to encourage and equip women for transformative Bible study. Learn more or sign up at crossway.org/women.

In this video, Jani Ortlund offers some advice for staying motivated to read God’s Word and making time for Bible study as a young mom.

Jani Ortlund on Staying in the Word as a Young Mom
from Crossway on Vimeo.

Jani Ortlund is a well-known writer and conference speaker who loves spending her energies connecting women and their families with the Word of God. She is the wife of Dr. Raymond Ortlund Jr., pastor, author, and former seminary professor. Jani, a former schoolteacher, holds a master’s degree in education. The Ortlunds have four grown children and two grandchildren.


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The Top Two Ways Dads Can Love Their Kids

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This is a guest post by Timothy Z. Witmer. He is the author of The Shepherd Leader at Home: Knowing, Leading, Protecting, and Providing for Your Family.

An Exhortation for Father’s Day

Father’s Day is almost here. It will be a day starting with breakfast in bed, emotional cards, and dinner out. Oh, I’m sorry, that’s Mother’s Day! On Father’s Day there will be no breakfast in bed. We don’t really care because we’re too messy (and proud) to make that work anyway. There will be cards but they are simpler. There will be dinner but it will be cooked on the grill (charred by Dad) or eaten out (paid for by Dad).

But there’s another difference. On Mother’s Day, as the cards are opened, tears often flow. Why? I perceive that they are not only tears of joy but also tears mixed with a sense of inadequacy, guilt, and regret. For Dads, opening and reading cards rarely leads to that kind of emotion or introspection. But as we approach another Father’s Day, I’d like to ask you to take a minute to reflect with me on the top two ways you can love your children.

1. Love God

The most important way to love your children is to love the Lord. After all, this is the overarching purpose of our existence. If there is anything that we want our children to “catch” from us it is heartfelt responsiveness to the greatest commandment “to love the Lord with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength.” As I argue in The Shepherd Leader at Home, this is not possible unless you not only teach them but also show them what it looks like.

Father’s Day is a little like a birthday in that we usually get to be where we want to be and to do what we want to do. What does that mean for you? Since Father’s Day is always on a Sunday the “church thing” always comes up. On this day of doing what you want to do and being where you want to be, does that include gathering with God’s people to worship the Lord? If you are on vacation, does it include finding a place to worship with your family—or is being away an excuse to skip church? I’m not trying to guilt trip you . . . I’m just asking.

I’m just asking because Father’s Day is a day when you can show your children what is really important to you. I am grateful to have had a Dad who, though embarrassed to receive cards, always led by example. Though he worked six days a week as a rural mail carrier, plus a few days a week doing accounts payable for a local company, there was never a doubt where we would be on Sunday morning—we were going to church! I didn’t appreciate his commitment then but have grown to do so over the years.

Going to church isn’t all there is to loving the Lord, but don’t underestimate what your example means to your kids—whether good or bad. Where will you start the day this Father’s Day?

2. Love Your Wife

The second way to love your kids is to love your wife. Surveys continue to show that what kids fear most is that their parents’ marriage will break up. When parents do divorce, children often blame themselves, causing them to bear a burden that they simply can’t handle. The loving shepherd-dad, therefore, is concerned for the security of his children and there’s no better way to promote that than to love their mom.

Do your children hear you express your love and appreciation for your wife? Or are you always complaining and criticizing? Verbal expressions of affection aren’t easy for some men but it is important for your children and for your wife.

Do your children see you show your affection toward your wife? Kids might say “yuck” when you give her a hug and kiss (appropriate for public view, of course!), but in their hearts they are assured that “everything is ok.” Have you ever noticed that children don’t complain when you plan something just for the two of you? They might complain about the babysitter but deep down they are happy to know that the two of you still enjoy being together.

We are to love our wives as Christ loved the church. His love is heard in his Word and seen in his sacrificial work on our behalf. This is why we can be secure. Let your children hear and see your love for their Mom.

As you’re opening your cards this Father’s Day afternoon, I pray that it will be a time of joy in the blessing of being a dad, but also a time when you recommit yourself to loving your children by loving the Lord and loving your wife.

Timothy Z. Witmer (DMin, Reformed Theological Seminary) is professor of practical theology and coordinator of the practical theology department at Westminster Theological Seminary. He has served as senior minister of Crossroads Community Church since 1986 and is the author of The Shepherd Leader at Home: Knowing, Leading, Protecting, and Providing for Your Family (excerpt).


June 10, 2014 | Posted in: AAA - BLOG UPDATE,Children / Parenting,Life / Doctrine,Marriage,Marriage / Family,Men | Author: Matt Tully @ 8:15 am | 0 Comments »

Why Motherhood Is Only for the Faint of Heart

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This is a guest post by Gloria Furman. Her newest book is Treasuring Christ When Your Hands Are Full: Gospel Meditations for Busy Moms.

Are You a Weak Mother?

I’m in the unique and privileged position of receiving formal Mother’s Day thankfulness three times a year. Where we live the community recognizes Arabic Mother’s Day, British Mothering Sunday, and American Mother’s Day. Every spring I get buried in finger-painted cards and paper flowers from my kids. It’s glorious!

All over the world, people acknowledge that the work of mothering is demanding and difficult. We often hear that “motherhood is not for the faint of heart!” But in our hearts, we moms know that’s not entirely true—because motherhood is only for the faint of heart.

“How can that be?” you might wonder. “Moms are strong, competent, creative, and persevering!” And you would be right. Only the grace of God can explain the counterintuitive statement that motherhood is only for the faint of heart.

With the Help of the Lord

It was the grace of God that led Eve to declare, “I have gotten a man with the help of the Lord” (Gen. 4:10), when the first child was born. And it is God’s grace that has driven and enabled every mother since to nurture life in the face of death in the midst of our fallen world. When we acknowledge our inability to mother our children apart from the Lord’s provision and strength, we honor God.

I’ll be honest: my pride is insulted when I consider the reality of my absolute dependence on God for my motherhood. I’d rather dive headlong into self-sufficiency, ignore God, and counter Eve’s declaration, saying, “I have gotten along just fine without the help of anyone.” Even in the face of death in our fallen world, my wounded ego wants to hang onto shreds of self-righteous rags. To which I say to my soul—in a talk-to-yourself-don’t-listen-to-yourself-way—”Enough already!”

This world is too broken. We are too fragile. Life is too fleeting. And the horror of our sin is too much to bear.

Refocusing on Jesus

Every mother needs to look away from herself and to the Man who is seated in heaven at the right hand of the Father. Christ is our hope and peace, he is our sufficient strength, he is our Redeemer. Because of his atoning death on the cross, Jesus is gathering up the pieces of this broken world and making all things new in submission to him under his serpent-crushing feet.

When he brings our fragile lives to a close on this earth, he is going to raise us from the dead, never to die again. His love is from everlasting and he is preparing a place for us to live forever with him. And when he died in our place and rose again he broke the curse of our sin and defeated death. We look to Jesus with our eyes of faith wide open, repentant and hopeful, because the promise of his future grace is ours for the believing.

Embracing Dependence

In the middle of it all, even as future grace is ever-hurtling toward us, all of our burdens threaten to overwhelm us like a tsunami of doubt, fear, anxiety, and pain. Do we really want to “fake it ‘til we make it” to the end of the day and hoist a “Mother of the Year” trophy and give Jesus a high five for being such a great cheerleader?

Of course not.

Take Heart, Weary Mom

Do you feel burdened, exhausted, and weak? Don’t resent your weariness, but take heart because of Christ! In your weakness you have an opportunity to exalt Christ in everything because he is exalted over all things. You can rest well through childlike faith in our loving Father, who ordains the good work we’re striving to walk in (Eph. 2:10), consciously give your burden to Jesus (Matt. 11:28), and walk by the Spirit as you resist the temptation to give up (Gal. 5:16, 6:9).

Grace turns a weary mom’s weakness into a blessing. That’s why motherhood is for the faint of heart. When our hearts are faint within us then we can say and believe, “For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen” (Rom. 11:36).

Gloria Furman is a wife, mother of four young children, doula, and blogger. In 2008 her family moved to the Middle East to plant Redeemer Church of Dubai where her husband, Dave, serves as the pastor. She is the author of Glimpses of Grace and Treasuring Christ When Your Hands Are Full, and she blogs regularly at Desiring God, The Gospel Coalition, and GloriaFurman.com.


Other Posts by Gloria Furman

Making Disciples Like a Soldier, Athlete, Farmer . . . Mom


This is a guest post by Gloria Furman. Her newest book is Treasuring Christ When Your Hands Are Full: Gospel Meditations for Busy Moms.

Vomit and Verses

“Why do they always come to my side of the bed when they need to throw up?” I asked my husband an honest question.

One of our kids was sick that day, so it was time to put on the Nurse Mommy hat (and poncho). I changed cold compresses on her head, rinsed out her vomit bucket, held a drinking straw to her lips, kept the healthy kids under control, and made a mental note to call my own mom and thank her for all the times she did this for me.

Somewhere in the middle of laundering soiled bed sheets, I read that day’s Scripture reading: 2 Timothy 2. In this chapter, Paul tells Timothy that he must rely on God’s grace to fulfill his calling as a disciple-maker. And here I was up to my elbows with a very tangible illustration of my own need for grace to do what God has called me to do.

The daily (and nightly) disciple-making work of mothering makes us increasingly aware of our need to be “strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 2:1).

Disciple-Making Mothers

Even though the metaphors Paul uses in this particular passage aren’t your typical descriptions of motherhood, it’s not hard to catch a glimpse of disciple-making motherhood through the eyes of a soldier, athlete, and farmer (2 Timothy 2:1-7).

A mother participates in making disciples of Jesus as she invests her life in the work of evangelizing and discipling her children in every day life. It has been said that moms lead more people to Jesus than do evangelistic events and outreach programs. Consider the examples that Paul uses to encourage Timothy in his calling and see how they relate to motherhood. Like faithful soldiers, we are diligent even with the small things because we aim to please the Lord. Like persistent athletes who compete with integrity, we aim to stay focused on what the Lord has given us to do. Like hard-working farmers, we invest our everyday lives into our children and pray expectantly that God would produce fruit that will last.

You may have read on a greeting card somewhere that motherhood is not for the faint of heart. But I don’t buy it; motherhood must be for the faint of heart. Disciple-making like a soldier/athlete/farmer-mom means that we need to be strengthened by God’s grace to do the routine, hard work that moves the gospel forward.

Mary Had a Little Lamb

Bringing order out of kitchen chaos and subduing the algebra homework with your kids sounds like a demeaning job description to the world. But the disciple-making work of motherhood is part of something bigger than simply keeping the dust bunnies at bay.

We nurture life in light of the long-view of motherhood. When we look out and see the effects of the Fall “as sin reigned in death,” we don’t despair. We look to the cross and remember that, because of Jesus’ substitutionary death, “grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 5:21).

We nurture life in the face of death to the praise of God’s glory in all of our work. Being “pro” life means you are for that person’s life (especially their spiritual life) in every way and at all times. And there’s no way a busy mom can love like that unless she sees how she has been loved like that.

We are loved by God in ways that our sin-besotted hearts cannot comprehend. Even after our first parents sinned in the Garden and God justly pronounced a curse, a blessing for mankind could still be heard. God promised a Rescuer. “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise our head, and you shall bruise his heel” (Genesis 3:15).

Thousands of years later, a virgin gave birth to a son. His tiny little feet would ultimately turn into serpent-crushing feet. God sent his Son, Jesus, to do the work of subduing his enemy and rescuing his children by dying on the cross and rising from the dead. The long-view of motherhood looks way past potty training and high school graduation to scan the horizon of eternity, where the incarnate Son of God is risen and reigning.

Making Disciples in the Living Room

Our children are included in panta ta ethne (“all the nations”) of the Great Commission. Jesus’s assurances that he has been given “all authority in heaven and on earth” (Matthew 28:18) and that he is with us always “to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20) are ours for the keeping and believing in our everyday disciple-making.

The world isn’t going to give you a medal for wiping vomit off the floor. Paparazzi aren’t waiting in the bushes outside your house trying to snap a photo of you praying for your kids. But your prayer-full, hope-filled work of evangelism and discipleship—done through the strengthening grace of Jesus—gives him praise that echoes in eternity.

And that moves all of heaven to rejoice.

Gloria Furman is a wife, mother of four young children, doula, and blogger. In 2008 her family moved to the Middle East to plant Redeemer Church of Dubai where her husband, Dave, serves as the pastor. She is the author of Glimpses of Grace and Treasuring Christ When Your Hands Are Full, and she blogs regularly at Desiring God, The Gospel Coalition, and GloriaFurman.com.

April 11, 2014 | Posted in: AAA - BLOG UPDATE,Children / Parenting,Life / Doctrine,Marriage / Family,Women | Author: Crossway Author @ 8:30 am | 0 Comments »