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.

KEEP YOUR TOOLS HANDY

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.

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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)

 

“We Just Need Rehab.” August 25, 2010

Filed under: Ezekiel,Uncategorized — womenembracingfaith @ 3:28 pm
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Every generation has proverbs generally acceptedby most people. Sometimes spoken or written; sometimes not. My mother’s generation lived by: “A penny saved isa penny earned.” Iget to buy afew Lilly dresses now because of that proverb! It is not such a bad saying…

A proverb of today in the U.S. might be: “We haven’t sinned; we just need rehab.” Whether it’s a celebrity or public officialor just a husband using the internet for dirty pictures, there’s seldom visible sorrow forthe actionitself that has caused such devastating consequences. Anger management or sexual addiction counseling are “in.”

Ezekiel saw the same kind of thinking going on among his exiled friends. They had lost their country, been forced to move from Jerusalem to Iraq.He kept preaching about true heart repentance–sorrow, sadness, deep grief resulting in seeking a renewed relationship with God that included right living. They kept saying, “We’re suffering because of the sins of our fathers. We haven’t done anything to deserve this.” Instead of repentance and mourning, they shirked their responsibility and blamed their parents and said God was not fair.

In Ezekiel 18,we havehis sermon refuting this proverb.I hope you have the time to read it.’As I live,’says the Lord GOD, ‘you shall no longer use this proverb in Israel.'” He goes on to list the right living of the first generation (18:5-9),and the violent greed, idoltry, and sexual impurity of the second generation, then the right living of the third generation (v.14-18). Ezekieldefends personal responsibilty and the fairness of God:

“He shall not die for the iniquity of his father; He shall surely live!

As for his father, because he cruelly oppressed, robbbed his brother by violence, and did what is not good among his people, behold, he shall die for his iniquity.… The soul who sins shall die” (Ez. 18:17-20).

“‘Do I have any pleasure at all that the wicked should die?’ says the Lord GOD, ‘and not that he should turn from his ways and live?'”

Should we be using our proverb today to excuse ourselves? Is getting rehabilatation and counseling (ortraveling the world for a year or so) the only thing we need to do? What about cleaning up our act?

Teaching Tip

Train your children (or those you teach or influence in any way) to accept responsibility for their attitudes and actions. In preschool and early elementary years, I focused ongettingmy daughtersto “honor” me. I tried not to have many “rules” but when they didn’t show respect, they “got” it! It was their fault, even if I was wrong or short-tempered. Of course, I often messed up myself, and thissame principle of responsibilityapplied to me, but, nevertheless,my being in the wrongdid not excuse them.It isn’t always the teacher’s or the parent’s fault.

For upper elementary and high school, help them to see how false the cultural proverbs can be.You need to talk WITH thema lot (not to them as much).Take them daily to the real Proverbs as a contrast to what they are hearing “out there.” Keepthe focus on personal accountability and turning from wrong behavior and attitudes–intheir relationship with you and with the Lord Jesus.

Of course, in delivering this sermon on accountability, Ezekiel is in no way ignoring the hope of the Promised One who would be an atonement for sin. He didn’t know all the details yet; itwas 590 or so years before Jesus’ death.As an educated priest, Ezekiel was very familar with all of Isaiah’s prophecies about the Messiah’s coming. But, this sermon’s main point is that each of us is accountable to Godand that does not make God unfair. “Repent and turn from all your transgressions, so that iniquity will not be your ruin” (Ez. 18:30).

 

Stab The Theme Into the Heart, Mind, Life January 15, 2010

Filed under: Bible Story For Children,Teaching Tips — womenembracingfaith @ 4:17 pm
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Stab may be a bit brutal sounding, but what I mean is to apply the biblical theme to the child’s everyday life. So many Bible story books for children just give the “facts” without applying the theme or lesson to the child’s heart or his daily life. Matters of the heart are: to stir up a love for God, of gratefulness for what Jesus has done for him personally; to show him how he has offended God; to increase his awe and reverence for His creator. It is about the heart because it is what the child feels, experiences spiritually. Applications from a story to a child’s everyday life are about how he acts toward others; his integrity, perseverence, self-discipline; his worship of the true and living God of the Bible. Make it a habit for yourself: never tell a Bible story to children without applying the sweeping biblical themes to the child wherever he/she is in his development. Here’s an example; the applications are in italics:

Matthew 14– Jesus Shows He Is God

The King had just killed John the Baptist, Jesus’s cousin– the one who lived in the desert, whose preaching helped prepare hearts to accept Jesus as the promised Savior. Crowds followed Jesus to a desolate place along the Sea of Galilee. He wanted to be alone because of his grief for his cousin. This shows us how much like us he was. But he had such compassion for the people who had followed him, he healed the sick, and then turned five loaves of bread and two fish into enough food for five thousand men plus all the women and kids–maybe fifteen thousand ate from that bread and fish Who could do that?! It was an extra-ordinary miracle, witnessed by thousands of people. It showed that John the Baptist was right: Jesus was really the Savior promised in the Old Testament. He was God. Do you believe this really happened? Do you believe that Jesus is God–the Savior, your Savior? If you do, you should tell someone–your Mother, perhaps?

Jesus gave another proof of who He was by walking on water in the middle of the night when the Sea was rough and windy. Only his disciples saw this, but they later agreed it had really happened. Peter even tried to walk on the water himself, but, of course, that didn’t last long. He was like us–weak in our faith, tending to doubt. Do you sometimes question if all this really happened? Do you need to ask God to help you believe in Him and have faith that Jesus really is your Savior? Have you ever asked Him to give you a new heart? Have you asked Him to forgive you?

After walking on water, Jesus showed again who He really was by healing among a big crowd of people. Anyone who touched the edge of his clothes was made well. It wasn’t done secretly; everyone saw these people healed right then. It was another way of showing that He was God, and that He cared about people. Are you kind to people when they’re sick? Our world is filled with sickness, even death. One day it won’t be that way but for right now it is. We need to show we care.  What can you do this week for someone who is sick and would love to know you care about them?

See how the theme of Jesus is the Messiah, God in our flesh, our Savior bores into the mind, heart, and relationships? Is does kind of stab after all. Always apply your Bible story. Kids can take it! They need it.

 

Bible Stories For Children September 5, 2008

Filed under: Teaching Tips — womenembracingfaith @ 2:36 pm
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Always Relate Story to Bible Themes

Spiritual comfort comes to us indirectly. We must think about the foundational truth; God the Spirit then makes that truth real to our minds and emotions. Children need spiritual comfort too. They are scare of bears or the dark or whatever. So as we tell the Bible story to them, we must emphasize at least one foundational truth.

Think about that. I’ll get back to you soon. I need to stop now to tell Benjamin about Daniel and the Lion’s Den! He needs to know that God Takes Care of His Children.