Thursday, July 24, 2014

Book Review: Answering Your Kid's Toughest Questions

A few weeks ago, the last two of my children made a profession of faith and followed the Lord in believer's baptism.  It was a beautifully wonderful day in so many ways.  How awe inspiring it is to know that all 10 of my children have confessed to needing a Savior, acknowledged the need to be forgiven of their sins, and testifying to the grace of God in providing, through His Son Jesus, the means of justification!  My 7 and 8 year old didn't put it quite like that, but they understand and trust as children who will prayerfully grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord.

 And so, as if that wasn't enough, we had visitors at the church that day and one family had an 8 year old little boy. As he watched the testimony of my two little boys and the others being baptised that day, he approached his mother about how he could be saved!  How great to share later with my boys that their first act of obedience was also one of the first opportunities of sharing the gospel because of their outward testimony!  Well, the mom sat down after the service with her child and one of our church leaders.  They feasted together on the glory of the gospel as this sweet little boy's eyes were being opened and the Holy Spirit continued drawing his heart to the greatest story ever told.  The mom asked for some good literature to use for them to continue the conversation at home and I tucked the request in the back of my mind so I could give her a list of books I would recommend beyond what we gave her that day.  If you have older children, don't you remember when the Lord first began working on your first child and he/she came with questions? Were you like me and had been on missions trips, had evangelism training, and had done plenty of witnessing...but this little child from your womb left you speechless?  I had even worked for years with younger aged children but for some reason found talking to my own child brought new meaning to sharing the gospel.

So, Monday came and in the mail that day arrived a new book for me to review.  Yes, you know what I am going to say here :)  The Lord brought me the book Answering Your Kid's Toughest Questions by Jessica Thompson and Elyse Fitzpatrick!  I had a few other books I was ready to recommend, but was so excited to dig into this one and see what it had to offer in light of Sunday's happenings.

I was not disappointed!  Answering Your Kid's Toughest Questions is a great tool to use right along with one of my other favorite parenting books: Give Them Grace by Elyse Fitzpatrick.  Give Them Grace is one of the best discipling/parenting books on how to bring your kids to the knowledge of the gospel through your day to day parenting.  Anyway...I could get off on a tangent about that.  Look up the book and order it if you have kids! :)

This new book by Mrs. Fitzpatrick and her daughter is another great tool and fantastic resource to have on hand.  Kids do ask tough questions and the Bible is the answer key.  This book, though, does some of the ground work for you by providing the scripture that supports the answers to the questions (in correct context, by the way) and then giving great examples of how to explain them to your children. Not only that, the authors lovingly give sections within each chapter that lay out appropriate explanations for Preschool aged children, ages 5-10, and beyond.  This is a great feature in helping the parent realize what the child may or may not understand at the various ages.  The sections are complex yet simple enough that you can read through them, do a little background study, and then feel prepared and knowledgeable enough about the concept to discuss it with the child.  The book covers subjects like:

  • What is Sin?
  • Why do people die?
  • Who is Satan?  What is Hell?
  • Why do people get divorced?
  • Why does the Bible say that?  Difficult Bible stories.
  • Sexual Sin
  • Natural Disasters
  • War
  • Terrorism
  • And of course-The Good News!
I highly recommend this book for parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, Sunday School teachers and anyone who works with children!

Paul David Tripp said, " I love this book! I will recommend it again and again.  It is street-level theology for children that drips with the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Parents, read it, live with it, share it daily with your children, and not only will they learn and grow, you will, too."

{I received a free copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for an honest review}

Friday, July 18, 2014

Do the One Thing!

I'm sure your reaction to that picture and those words are the same as mine: Yeah, right! After all, we are women. Have we EVER done just one thing? I seriously can't think of a time I've done just one thing at a time. My mind actually is filling up right now with hilarious examples of some of my multi-tasking abilities. To be honest, even on Sunday mornings, when I am supposed to be focused on my one true God and setting everything aside to worship Him, I am making notes on the side of my paper. Yeah...not sermon lists, menus, chore charts, to-do lists of every kind. I have to. I have to jot them down so I can clear my mind to focus on the Truth that is being spoken from the pulpit. I'm not proud of that. I am such a Martha. I so want to be more of a Mary.

    Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house.  And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet and listened to his teaching.  But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.”  But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:38-42

I know so many of you are with me on this...and this isn't the first time you have been reminded of Jesus' loving admonition to Martha.  But as I was reading in my morning devotions this week (while also jotting down my lists, keeping the kids on their tasks, and thinking about what to put in the crock-pot), God showed me a beautiful example of scripture.  I had one of those "Ah ha" moments where the scripture you have read so many times seems to hit you right between the eyes and lovingly reveal a blind spot in your life.  I was reading in Psalms.  I use Professor Horner's Bible Reading program, so I am consistently going through the Psalms and Proverbs.  But, thanks be to God, His Word is living and active!  It is inspired, literal, true...always constant!  But because He is gloriously transforming us and sanctifying us to become more like His blessed Son, it is never the same twice!  As we abide in Him and grow in His Truth, He continues to open our eyes and reveal to us, through His Spirit, just how we are to be more obedient.  And more than that, his amazing and abundant grace!

So...I was reading Psalm 27:4 where David says,

One thing he asked the Lord.  One thing he sought.  His desire was to dwell in the house of the Lord (to abide in Him) all his days, and in the place of dwelling, to gaze upon His beauty and to always seek Him.  The verse just stopped me in my tracks.  The Word of God pierced through my heart and my multi-tasking brain in that moment and hushed the world outside...and inside.  And, I did the same thing you are doing now. "But Lord!  There is so much to be done!  The food won't cook itself, the baby has to be changed, groceries bought, laundry washed-folded-put away!"  And God answered. In the way He always does.  As I sat there telling God how easy it was for David who had NOTHING to do but dwell in the house of the Lord and seek Him, He reminded me of Mary and Martha.  Not that there is not much for us women to do.  And not that in fulfilling the role He has designed us for that we are doing anything wrong.  But He reminded me how important it is to focus on the ONE THING.  Him.  

Then, through the great tool of cross referencing, He led me to Paul.  Guess what?  Paul had a "one thing" too:

So, I began to meditate on it all. (The kids got gloriously quiet and God graciously helped me single task!)  Martha was "anxious and troubled about many things" yet, Jesus told her that one thing was necessary.  The good portion that cannot be taken away from us.  It is important to eat.  Clean clothes are a really good thing.  A tidy home makes a peaceful home.  All those things are good, but only one thing is necessary. Re-read the passage about Mary and Martha.  It wasn't that Martha was doing wrong by serving, but she was "distracted" in "much" serving. 

Mary, David and Paul all knew it. And they all labored tirelessly for God and accomplished much for His glory.  But the One thing came first.  The One thing is where they got the strength and calm assurance to do the rest.  

Are you like me? Do you tend to give in to the tyranny of the urgent?  Have you gotten the priorities out of whack? Think about it...sincerely, transparently with an open heart before the Lord.  What is your one thing?  What consumes you?  What do you desire MOST?  Do you neglect Him and His Word?  And prayer?  Is your answer yes because there is so much to do?  Do those things take precedence because God has required it of you or are you doing it to please others?  Are you unnecessarily anxious and troubled about many things? Would your family benefit more from you seeking God's face first or feeding them breakfast?  Are you like me and need to get up earlier in order to dwell before His throne?  Let's do the One thing.  Paul said he didn't consider himself to have mastered it yet!  But he had a One thing!  To forget what was behind and press on toward the goal (sanctification) to win the prize for which God called Him.  We are women and He has designed us for many unique purposes.  But He has designed all of us for One Thing:  To glorify Him and enjoy Him forever! (Romans 11:36)

I pray my one thing is never anything apart from what He has ordained it to be.  I pray it for you too.
Let us live out our glorious design by serving our families.  But let's press on toward the goal which God has called us to and let's abide in Him, seek His face and gaze upon His beauty.  Take a deep breath.  Do the One Thing!

"Blessed are they who do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled."  Matthew 5:6