Women Embracing Faith

Thinking Through the Bible

Catechism? How Old Fashioned Is That? May 12, 2011

Kate and William were married in Westminster Abbey.

 In 1649, “The Westminster Confession of Faith” was adopted by an assembly of Protestant clergy who agreed on this summary of the Bible’s teachings. The House of Commons called for the meeting and set forth the task and then approved their work. They met in a room adjacent to where the Royal Wedding was held. If you go to this link, you can see all about the Abbey and the Jerusalem Room: http://www.westminsterabbey.org

A larger and a shorter list of questions and answers were written as a teaching tool so these statements could more easily be understood. The idea was to teach the Scriptures through this question and answer method. It worked well for centuries. We have quit using this method. Could it be a tool we could pick up again?

James Packer, an Anglican theologian, believes it is time we picked it up again. I do too. The teaching technique is to ask a “closed” question that requires a specific answer. These are not questions designed to get the preschooler thru teenager to think deeply and creatively. There is a specific answer that is “right.” It is a method useful for conquering bodies of material. For instance, I used this same method to teach high school government and history. “What year did the War Between the States end?” Who led the Army of Northern Virginia? Whose murder contributed to the beginning of World War I?” At first, the seniors thought it was a joke. I was only in my early 20’s and looked younger, so they thought the whole class was going to be a joke! It all worked out in the end and they learned what “oral recitation” required. Just a few minutes a day—of terror for some; a joke for others. Later we would work on thinking logically and creatively.

That was a long time ago! I would still use it today. In fact, I use the method every Sunday with my pre-school Sunday School class. We have twelve Catechism Questions to learn during the year. They are simplified versions of the Westminster Catechism that Dr. Packer advocates.

Here are some sample questions from the Shorter Catechism:

“In how many persons does this one God exist? In three Persons.” (Great Commission Publications for Toddlers).

“Is any man able, either of himself, or by any grace received in this life, perfectly to keep the commandments of God? No man is able, either of himself, or by any grace received in this life, perfectly to keep the commandments of God; but doth daily break them in thought, word, and deed.” (Shorter Catechism, #149).

You get the idea, don’t you? If you are a Baptist, “The 1689 London Confession” would be very helpful for you. I found it very useful to have copies of both around the house. Look for them in old bookstores or online at Albris.com. Once, I found Luther’s Catechism in an old store in a small midwest town. He was also known for his relationship with kids. I always used the ones with scripture verses to back up each section so I could look it up myself. I’m not very structured and the churches we attended never used catechisms and my girls went to secular schools so we never memorized many of the questions and answers. But, hopefully, they remember some and know the principles behind them, and how to look them up when a question arises.


Figure out a way you could use catechism. Talk it over with your friends. I think this teaching tool will really help, but we have to pick it up and use it. Does it really matter that some might consider it “old-fashioned?”

My book Old Paths for Little Feet has a chapter on tools to keep handy. ( See pages 101-105.) You can purchase it at http://www.cvbbs.com.


A Bowl, A Spoon, and A Pitcher March 22, 2011

Filed under: Bible Story For Children,Teaching Tips — womenembracingfaith @ 3:25 pm
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One of “seven laws of teaching” I quoted in Old Paths For Little Feet( p. 97) is “Use the known to teach the unknown.” The Bible is real good at this. It uses the tangible to teach the intangible. Something from everyday life to illustrate a spiritual principle. Here is an example:

‘Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is ‘born’ again he cannot see the kingdom of God. …Do not marvel that I said to you, “You must be born again.” The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit (John 3:4).

Jesus was showing Nicodemus the role of the Holy Spirit in one’s salvation experience. Without the Holy Spirit’s work in our hearts none of us can know God. He used the wind to help Nicodemus understand the work of the Spirit upon the heart.

Fear not, O Jacob my servant, Jeshurun whom I have chosen. For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will put my Spirit upon your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants. They shall spring up among the grass like willows by flowing streams (Isaiah 44:2-4).

In this Old Testament passage, the Holy Spirit’s work is illustrated by water. He is like a stream or flowing water bringing blessings upon dry, parched hearts.

God’s sovereignty is always balanced with the truth of man’s responsibility. The two truths are like parallel train tracks, running along beside each other, but never intersecting or crossing the other one out. The Holy Spirit actually renews our hearts, gives us faith, but we are to watch our hearts carefully, and observe the fruit it is producing.

Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life (Proverbs 4:23).

Sometimes we have to stir up our hearts to serve the Lord Jesus and to love him more. We do this through praying, reading and studying our Bible, singing, and serving.


Try this with your children: Put some flour in a large bowl. Let them stir the dry flour. Keep repeating “STIR.” Then let them pour water into the bowl. Keep repeating POUR. STIR, POUR, DRY, WATER. Start with simple vocabulary. “Look what happens to the dry flour. It becomes soft and moist. Our hearts are like this. They are dry and hard. God has to pour his Spirit upon us so our hearts will soften and love him.”

Then, read these verses quoted above out loud, sing a song, and pray. I did this in Children’s Church with ages 5-10. We are learning to sing “O Can It Be” by Charles Wesley to stir our hearts so we can love, worship, and obey God more.

Amazing love! How can it be that Thou, my God, should die for me?
‘Tis mercy all! Let earth adore, let angel minds inquire no more.
‘Tis mercy all! Immense and free! for O my God it found out me.


Songs For Preschoolers February 11, 2011

Filed under: Bible Story For Children,Teaching Tips — womenembracingfaith @ 3:20 am
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These songs are so easy and useful. I just had to pass them along. The idea is to pick out two per week and sing them as you “walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise” (Deut. 6:7). They not only teach a spiritual principle but stir the emotions to love and obey. Try it. they are from Greater Commission Publications (www.gcp.org). I’m so thankful for #3….

I don’t like singing to the tune of “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” as suggested by the Sunday School materials so I just make up a catchy tune of my own. I can’t get away from saying Twinkle, Twinkle….. The point is to use singing as a way to remember the biblical principle. The melody is important because it aids memory. Learn the melody first. Then add the words one short phrase at a time. Repeat. Sing in your heart to the Lord.

1. God bless me and God bless you, God bless us in all we do.
2. Hear God’s Word and then obey, Trust in Jesus every day.
3. All have sinned—what can we do, We need Jesus, this is true!
4. Trust God’s Word and then obey, Trust in Jesus every day.
5. All have sinned—what can we do? We need Jesus, this is true!
6. God sent Jesus, his own Son, Jesus died, his work was done.
7. Holy Spirit, special Friend, be with me until the end.
8. Praise the Father! Praise the Son! Praise the Spirit! Three in one.

Enjoy…I’ll bet you will find your heart lifted up, and your mind thinking about the steadfast, enduring love of God toward us who believe in who Jesus is and what he has done.
“Christ Jesus is the one who died–more than that, who was raised–who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?” (Romans 8:34)


Teaching Tips January 1, 2011

Filed under: Teaching Tips — womenembracingfaith @ 4:43 pm
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My three-year-olds in Sunday School are studying about the wise men bringing gifts to the King of the whole world. They followed the star which moved along, leading them to the house Mary and Joseph and Jesus were living in–in Bethlehem. They brought gifts and they bowed before this baby because somehow they knew he was the “Promised One”—the Savior of the whole world. Somehow they knew they were welcomed to worship him–even though they were not Jews, not related to Abraham, David, or in the tribe of Judah.

Teaching Tip
Connect your lesson to the Catechism Questions you are teaching.

I use the Westminster Catechism with this class. How can you glorify God? By loving him and obeying what he commands.
We can worship God just like the wise men did. We can believe that Jesus is our Savior and King. Do you? We can bring gifts to him. We can give him our faith, our love, our obedience each day. Then we will know we trust in him and will be glad to see him when he comes again one day to make things right. Won’t that be a wonderful day?–even more fun than Christmas morning was.

See how your application of the lesson really explains the catechism question? Our love and obedience to our Lord Jesus Christ exalts the character of God and makes him really look appealing and wonderful. And we are wiser for it. ( Not righteous, but wiser. It is only Jesus’s perfect life given for us that makes us righteous and able to commune with God.)

Always remember they are children, after all.
When pressed “Now do you believe Jesus is King of the whole world?” the three year old responded with a stare. When asked to pick out a gift to give Jesus (to symbolize faith, love, and obedience), one carefully picked up a plastic bottle from the play-kitchen and announced
with a glint in his eye, “I’m giving Jesus this bottle of beer!”

Keep your sense of humor!
Read it for yourself: Matthew 2


ADVENT CONTINUED December 29, 2010

Filed under: Bible Story For Children,Teaching Tips — womenembracingfaith @ 4:29 pm

Anna and Simeon saw Mary and Joseph coming into the Temple with a month old baby boy. Both of these old people had been waiting expectantly for the Promised One. They knew their Bible. They remembered God’s promise to Adam and Eve of a Seed to come; they knew about Abraham and the stars; they had read about the importance of David’s descendents in God’s bringing about His promised Savior. So they waited, and prayed, and hoped. Then when they saw Jesus, somehow they KNEW…..(See Luke 2:22-38).

Always apply the Bible story’s main point to your child’s everyday life, heart, and spiritual experiences….even if they are only three!

Here is an example: Are we waiting expectantly for Jesus to come back? One day we will look up and see Him coming. We will join the big parade for the KING of the whole world. Do you believe that Jesus will come back? Does it make you excited, glad, hopeful —or afraid? Those who have trusted in Him all their lives will be happy to see their friend and KING.

This last week of Advent focuses on the returning King who is worthy of all our praise. “O Come Let Us Adore Him” is an easy chorus to stir our hearts to love God more. It is important to “warm our hearts” with the application of the biblical principle. All of us are affected by music. Adoration is one aspect of love. Music is one way to apply the scripture.

This focus completes the emphasis on the gospel in the Christmas story to our families. Don’t let these teaching opportunities slip away.


On A Clear Night December 15, 2010

Filed under: Bible Story For Children,Teaching Tips — womenembracingfaith @ 3:41 am
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It is always important we all remind ourselves that the Bible is made up of many books tied together by one theme. That theme, of course, is Jesus–his essence, his life, death, resurrection, and his coming again. Look for that theme no matter which book you’re reading. See it in the Psalms. Look for his righteousness in the Proverbs.

We have had some cold clear nights lately. This is a perfect time to bundle up and take a walk with a child. Talk about the stars and planets for awhile, and how God created it all for his own glory–to reflect something of his power, goodness, and grace. In a way, the stars are like the rainbow. They remind us that God always keeps his promises. Then tell them the story of Abraham. How God told him to look up at the stars and try to count them. Abraham couldn’t begin;there were so many. Then God told him his family would be like the stars—so many, a big family. That sounded ridiculous because Abraham and Sarah had no children. None. But, Abraham believed God could keep that promise. God declared Abraham perfect—righteous—excused from any and all of his sins!

And he brought him outside and said, “Look toward the heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them. Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” And he believed the LORD, and he counted it to him as righteousness.” (Genesis 15:5-6).

The rest of the Old Testament tells how that promise was kept. His family always had this example of God’s promise and Abraham’s faith that God do what he said. Everytime you look up at the stars, remember how God kept his promise to Abraham and will keep his word always. He never lies or deceives others like we sometimes do. Have you ever tried to get away with something you knew was wrong? To look really innocent…. That is a way of lying, and it shows you that you need a Savior too–just like Abraham. Even Abraham lied. I have told a lie myself. That’s why we, everyone in the world, needed Jesus to come, live without lying, die, and come back alive.

God let others from Abraham’s family know Him and, over the years, made more and more promises to them about the coming of Jesus. He would be born into this family, descended from Abraham and his one son, Isaac. He would be born in Bethlehem. He would be put to bed into a feeding trough where the barn animals ate! Whenever you look up at the stars, remember these two stories of Abraham’s faith and Jesus’ birth are connected. Everyone who is fully convinced that God is able to do what he promises will be saved.
Looking at the stars as we walk and talk with a child can remind us all that God keeps his promises always. Even a young child can understand this simple biblical principle and have the stars to always remind him of God’s faithfulness and plan of salvation …

“For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them” (Romans 1:19).
“For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith” (Romans 1:17).

Speak directly to the child about his and your own sin. Then lead them immediately to the hope and comfort found only in the Lord Jesus Christ.


One More Time October 27, 2010

Filed under: Teaching Tips — womenembracingfaith @ 3:32 pm
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Back years ago, I found a rainbow to stick on our stationwagon window.  My idea was to remind the children and I that God keeps His promises.  It worked; we couldn’t help but see it every day and we talked about that biblical principle a lot.  I had no idea the rainbow had become a symbol for homosexuality!  

Use it anyway.  God put the rainbow in the sky as a sign of His faithfulness.

One more thing.  God promised Noah He would never destroy the earth again.  He would always take care of it.  The sun would come up each day; the moon would light the night; the four seasons would keep coming around (Genesis 8:22).  Your children or grandchildren need to hear this.  There is something settling about it.  Secure.  Their world is scary; they aren’t sure what is real and what is pretend.  You can remind them of this promise every day.  Watch the sunset together. Look for rainbows.  Talk about the moon.  And talk about how God will take care of it all.

“Then the LORD said in His heart, ‘I will never again curse the ground for man’s sake, although the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth; nor will I destroy every living thing as I have done….never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth'” (Genesis 8:21;9:11).


Noah’s Ark October 5, 2010

Filed under: Teaching Tips — womenembracingfaith @ 4:25 pm

Did you know that the ark had three floors?  It was about the size of a soccer field or a football field.  It is estimated it could have held as many as 50,000 animals.

These interesting little details don’t help much if you don’t really believe there was a real world-wide flood.  If you look at Genesis as just an ethnic folk tale…..cute for kid’s rooms and learning about the animals.  Ask yourself:  Is it true or not?

Another thing to think about is the Bible’s use of symbols or types. The ark is a symbol of Christ.  Just as Noah and his family  were saved from the flood, we are saved by being “in Christ.” Noah’s story is all about GRACE–his finding unmerited favor with God and thus escaping the judgment of God against everyone else.  Of course, God was patient, waiting for people to turn from their sins as Noah built the ark and preached to them.

Teach your children the whole story:  Grace, Judgment, Repentance., faith.. Put the story in the big picture–salvation provided through faith in Christ Jesus alone. This is the good news–the gospel of grace.  Think about that.


Talking Points September 12, 2010

Filed under: Teaching Tips,Uncategorized — womenembracingfaith @ 12:36 pm

The planet Venus is 24 million miles from earth.  If the sky is clear at sunset tonight, Venus will be shining brightly in the SW sky by 7:55 p.m. EDT.

Take your child or grandchild outside and have a talk about several catechism questions:

Who made you?   God

What else did God make?  God made all things

Why did God make you and all things?  For His own glory.

How can you glorify God?  By loving Him and doing what He commands.

Why are you to glorify God?  Because He made me and takes care of me.

Remember, to glorify means to reflect some small measure of what God is like. So since God made us and takes care of us, we should repond with loving obedience and that is exactly what reflects the true nature of God.

Looking at Venus is also a wonderful opportunity to introduce the power of God’s spoken word in making something out of nothing.  Genesis 1:1 says, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Notice that s.  That would include Venus.  So leave your child wondering about the wonder of it all.  “And God said it was very good.”

He still speaks today—through the Spirit’s lighting up the Bible’s meaning for us.  Come inside and, at least, look up Genesis 1:1!


When you pray, thank God that Jesus was there in the beginning, saying, “And it is very good!”


Bible Teaching Tip September 1, 2010

Filed under: Teaching Tips — womenembracingfaith @ 4:42 pm

These pictures are of the notebook I kept this summer.  It is all the take-home papers from my 2-4 year olds Sunday School class.  We use this to review, play matching games with the Bible story pictures I’ve posted around the room, and to remind us of our songs we love to sing.  Our Songbook is kept in the notebook too.  

I suggest you keep all your child’s take-home papers from Sunday School or Children’s Church in a notebook for the year.   Flip through the pages for a quick review of people, places, biblical themes and principles. Then you can quickly apply those principles to her/his everyday life and devotional life for that day.  Be sure to show them Jesus and the gospel in every lesson. 

 For instance, these lessons in my notebook on Shadrake, Meshach, and Abednego and Daniel show how God listens to our prayers and wants us to worship only Him.  The way to show them Jesus is to explain that Jesus is God’s Son, the Promised King.  It is only through faith in Him that we can expect God to hear our prayers.  Even these boys long agos knew God had promised a Savior who would live forever.  The application:  Do you pray?  Do you believe in Jesus? Do you ever worship other things?

The Sunday School literature I use does all this for you. They also include memory verse and Catchism question.  (gcp.org) 

Simply putting weekly lessons into a notebook lets you keep your teaching tools handy.  If you have to search for them, you’ll end up not reviewing and not much will have been accomplished at Children’s Church or Sunday School.  KEEP YOUR TOOLS HANDY.