First Things First (Hint: It’s About Jesus)

Jesus_088, by Linda Johns (Katie58_2006) at PhotoBucketThe beginning of a new school year is a good time to review what our purposes for homeschooling are. Families homeschool for multiple reasons, but for Christian homeschool parents, our primary goal should be to disciple our children into becoming ardent lovers of God. Yes, we want them to excel academically, so that they can function well in society when they are adults, but if we raise them to be successful in material ways, and yet their hearts are not intimately attached to the Lord, we will have failed in what matters most.

Raising our children to be Christ-lovers would be a daunting task, if we had to do it in our own strength. However, we do not. We have the Holy Spirit always at our elbow, eager to help us. We must draw on Him to give us the wisdom, and to open our eyes to moments throughout the day to draw our children’s attention to the Lord.

Training them up in the ways of the Lord goes far beyond making a Bible class part of our daily studies (although that can be a valuable tool). It is important to get to their hearts, not just their heads, with the message of Jesus, and then continually point them toward fastening their attention on Him. If we depend merely on a curriculum to do the work for us, we may end up with children who know all the Bible stories and all the doctrine, but do not know the Lord Himself.

Leading our children into a lifelong passion for Jesus begins with dedicating them to the Lord and interceding for their salvation. We tenderize their hearts to Him by presenting the simple Gospel message and talking about all His loving-kindness toward them. Eventually, and hopefully at a very early age, we lead them in a prayer of repentance and dedication of their hearts to Jesus. They are now what we often refer to as being “born again” (a term taken from the story of Jesus’ dialog with Nicodemus, in John 3).

My article, Teaching Babies to Love God, will help you to get started in cultivating a love for Jesus in your children, if you are unsure where to begin.

So that’s a start, but how do we keep them in the Kingdom? How do we make sure the flame continues to burn in their hearts, and how do we get it to burn brighter and hotter? I believe a key component is teaching our children to know the Lord’s voice personally. Ongoing relationship with Him depends much on two-sided communication with Him as both Lord and Friend. Today’s post is an introduction to an upcoming series on teaching children a lifestyle of being led by the Holy Spirit through hearing His voice and responding to Him.

Unfortunately, many modern-day Christians do not expect to hear God speak to them on a regular basis, and, in fact, have no idea how to hear God if they wanted to. I have noticed this especially in younger adults. Somewhere along the way, the art of hearing God ceased to be passed from one generation to the next. We can reverse that trend by beginning at an early age with our children, and I’m going to give you some practical how-to help for making it happen.

Perhaps you don’t really have a good grasp on hearing God yourself, so you might wonder, “How will I teach my children what I do not know?” It’s OK. You and your children can learn together. I hope you will find the adventure exciting!

While you are waiting for the series to get up and running, I have written a couple of short and inexpensive books which will be a big help to you in getting started. We have them in both print and e-book editions. (The e-book versions are a great choice if your budget is tight.):

Hotline to Heaven: Hearing the Voice of God

Hotline to Heaven: Hearing the Voice of God


The Homeschool Guide to Raising Prayer-Filled Kids

The Homeschool Guide to Raising Prayer-Filled Kids

 

New Discounts and Ordering Options

U. S. Customers:

Character Building for Families SetEverybody likes receiving discounts — and at Full Gospel Family Publications, we like giving them out, too! That’s why, for our U. S. customers, we are offering a 20% discount on orders of 5 or more Character Building for Families (either Volume 1 or 2, mix or match). Put together a group order for  your homeschool co-op or homeschooling buddies and save $3.20 per book. Order at our Character Building for Families homepage.

River Life Student EditionWe also offer a 25% discount on 5-10 copies of River Life: Entering into the Character of Jesus (ideal for your homeschooling teens). Order more than 10 copies and receive a 30% discount. Order at our River Life page.

As always, Media Mail shipping is free on all our products.

International Customers:

Over the years, shipping internationally has become extremely expensive, and I really hate how much we have to charge our international customers to ship your printed materials.

We have another solution for you. You can now purchase Character Building for Families and River Life: Entering into the Character of Jesus very reasonably as PDFs. Go to our ordering page, click on the button which applies to where you live, and look for the PDF options on the ordering page for significant savings.

(We’re not entirely automated, so we’ll e-mail your PDF to you. Please give us a short amount of response time.)

Sorry, PDFs are not available to U. S. customers.

Building God’s Kingdom Through Family (Part 4)

Leah drawingHow can we help our children understand the ongoing importance of family in the purposes of God?

1.) Teach them that family is the oldest of institutions, from the time of Adam and Eve. Explain to them the mandate God gave to that first family to fill, subdue, and take territory in the earth. (See Part 1 of this series.)

2.) Show them the thread of God’s plan for family from Abraham to Jesus. (See Part 2 of this series.)

3.) Tell them that family did not start as a new idea at Creation. God, by His very nature, has always thought in terms of family. Two of the Persons of the eternal Trinity relate to each other as Father and Son. Even the angels are sometimes referred to as the sons of God in Scripture.

4.) Instill in your children a love for the Church — because it is the family of God. “For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, of Whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named” (Ephesians 3:14, 15). Teach them to relate to other people in the body of Christ as brothers and sisters, who should receive our love and respect.

5.) Help them to understand that through Jesus they have become the sons and daughters of their Father in heaven:

For as many as are led by the Spirit of God are the sons of God. For you have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are the children of God, and if children, then heirs: heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ, if we suffer with Him, that we may be also glorified together. Romans 8:14-17

He is the King of the universe, and therefore they are royalty, and should act the part with grace. Explain to them the responsibilities of royalty and how to carry them out with humility.

6.) Teach them the concept of adoption. Use Romans 8:14-17 again. Adopted children have 100% of the privileges and inheritance rights of biological children. Therefore, what Jesus has is now equally ours as sons and daughters!

7.) Continuously build a sense of their God-given destiny into your children. Help them to develop a consciousness that God has a specific plan for each of them, which has been in place since before they were born — since before the world was born, for that matter.

Our secular humanist society would have them believe that their existence came about as a random toss of chance, and that an amoeba was their ancestor. But God says He knew each one of us before time began.

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestinated to be conformed to the image of His Son, so that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover, those whom He predestinated, them He also called; and whom He called, them He also justified; and whom He justified, them He also glorified. – Romans 8:28-30

… He has chosen us in Him [Christ] before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, wherein He has made us accepted in the Beloved.Ephesians 1:4-6

Help them to become familiar with Psalm 139. (Memorizing it would be a good idea.)

In this series, I have given you an overview of God’s plan for building His kingdom through family. Grasping it for ourselves and imparting it to our children is a huge task. But if we will ask for His aid, He will expand our understanding of all that it entails.

May you and your family be blessed, as you enter together into partnering with God for the establishment of His kingdom on earth.

Previous — Part 3

Character Building for Families

 

Character Building for Families

 

 

Building God’s Kingdom Through Family (Part 3)

Leah drawingI mentioned in Part 1 of this series that when God created Adam and Eve, He already had planned for the family to be a unit of spiritual warfare. He said they were to have dominion over all the earth, and that word dominion, in the Hebrew, means to “tread down, subjugate, prevail against, rule, reign, and take.”

The concept of family working together in warfare was well understood by the Israelites. Many sons meant increased strength when an enemy came calling. Psalm 127:4, 5 says, “As arrows in the hand of a mighty man; so are the children of one’s youth. Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them. They shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate.”

Now, as then, we have an enemy who comes to “kill, steal, and destroy.” Jesus came, however, so that we “might have life and have it more abundantly” (John 10:10). Jesus is the abundant Life-Giver, but one of the ways we can partner with Him in shedding abroad abundant life is by living out solid family relationships, where Jesus reigns supreme in our homes. At the very least, our children will experience abundant life through the safety and security they enjoy. Beyond that, stable families with happy children are a testimony to nonbelievers that there is something more which they can have as well, if they will give their hearts to the Lord.

Raising children who love Jesus more than life, and who will be willing to “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness” (Matthew 6:33) long after they have left our homes, is not an easy task. Accomplishing that goal is in itself a large component of spiritual warfare. We must depend on the Lord at every step to help us with the task and to rescue us and our children when any of us falter.

Next time, we will talk about some ways we can help our children thrive by giving them an understanding of the purpose of family.

Previous: Part 2
Next: Part 4

Character Building for Families

Character Building for Families

Building God’s Kingdom Through Family (Part 2)

Leah drawingIn the last post, I laid some foundations concerning God’s purpose for the family. We saw that God clearly stated the family’s mandate in Genesis 1:26-28. We also noted that the family’s critical importance in God’s plan continued to be revealed as a thread throughout the Old Testament. God brought — and is still bringing — His redemptive plan for the earth to fulfillment through Jesus our Lord. Isn’t it interesting that He chose to do that by having Jesus be born into a family! He didn’t have to do that. He could have had Him arrive on the scene in a myriad of other ways, but He chose family as His vehicle. God stays true to His principles and patterns.

How does God’s mandate for families affect us today? How can we fulfill His plan for building His kingdom through our families? Let’s go back to Matthew 28:19, 20, where we started in our last post:

Go therefore, and teach [disciple] all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things whatever I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, even to the end of the world.

In our eagerness to evangelize lost people throughout the world, the Church has sometimes neglected to realize that God’s plans generally start at home and move outward — a ripple effect, if you will. In Acts 1:8, Jesus told His disciples, “But you shall receive power, after the Holy Spirit comes upon you: and you shall be witnesses to Me, both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost parts of the earth.” Their witness was to start at home and spread outward from there. While we’ve been zealous at times to bring the Good News to all nations, we’ve often forgotten to disciple our own families. We have not done well at following God’s pattern.

Furthermore, in 1 Timothy 5:8, the apostle Paul said, “If anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his own house, he has denied the faith and is worse than an infidel.” He was speaking of providing materially, but I think we could carry the principle into the realm of the spiritual as well. Many of us have made the mistake of neglecting the spiritual needs of our immediate family for the sake of ministry outside the home. In doing so, we have stepped outside of God’s order. Whenever we fudge on His order, the fruit of our labors is also compromised. The results do not reach the level of excellence which God intended.

So, in discipling all nations and teaching them to observe the Lord’s commands, we must begin at home. It is just as vital to have the Kingdom populated with our own sons and daughters as it is to fill it with converts from outside our families. This is why Paul exhorted the older women to “teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, so that the word of God is not blasphemed” (Titus 2:4, 5). We don’t want our children to eventually become reprobates who blaspheme the word of God. Neither do we want nonbelievers blaspheming, due to seeing that our families are a mess. Our families are meant to be a testimony to the greatness of God, just as the family of Israel was meant to show forth His glory in Old Testament times.

That idea of expanding the Kingdom by filling it (in part) with our children has become foreign to our American way of thinking. We’ve been brainwashed for decades into thinking responsible stewardship of the earth means we must play our role in population control. Having more than two children has become exceedingly frowned upon. However, God told Adam and Eve to replenish (fill) the earth (Genesis 1:28). He also said that “children are a heritage of the LORD, and the fruit of the womb is His reward” (Psalm 127:3).

This doesn’t mean that it is more spiritual or blessed to have a large family than a small one. Many of us have not been given large families. Jacob’s son Joseph had only two sons, and yet Genesis 39:21 tells us, “The LORD was with Joseph, and showed him mercy, and gave him favor.” The point is that we must see children as a blessing, not a liability, and that having children who grow up with a passion for the Lord is an excellent way to build God’s kingdom.

More on this subject next time.

 Previous: Part 1
Next: Part 3

Character Building for Families

Character Building for Families

Building God’s Kingdom Through Family (Part 1)

Leah drawingIf you are a believer in Jesus, you are probably familiar with Matthew 28:19, 20, commonly called “the Great Commission”:

Go therefore, and teach [disciple] all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things whatever I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, even to the end of the world.

Sadly, while we have often exhorted one another to evangelize and disciple people outside of our immediate families, the Church has not done a great job of helping parents to view their own children as their first mission field.  Leading our sons and daughters into the kingdom of heaven and keeping them there, teaching them how to continually deepen their relationship with Jesus, and imparting to them the ongoing vision of expanding Christ’s influence  — this is a weighty calling for parents, not to be minimized or delegated elsewhere. We need to be fervent in fulfilling this God-given, God-blessed responsibility.

The family is a primary tool in God’s hands for carrying out His purposes in the earth. Because this is so, we have regularly seen Satan attack the family, through the legalization of abortion, the ease and acceptance of divorce, the gradual disapproval of our society toward large families, and government’s desire to parent through the education system. Satan’s latest onslaught is the push to redefine marriage to include any and all deviations from the biblical definition of one man and one woman who are joined together in covenant before the Lord.

God laid out His purpose for family on the first day of man’s existence. Genesis 1:26-28 states it clearly:

And God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, after Our likeness: and let them have dominion … over all the earth ….” So God created man in His own image … male and female He created them. And God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful, and multiply; replenish the earth, and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.”

After the worldwide flood, God repeated His original mandate to Noah and his family: “And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said to them, ‘Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth'” (Genesis 9:1).

God’s plan for families has remained the same down through history: be fruitful; multiply; replenish, subdue, and have dominion in the earth.

In Hebrew, the word translated “replenish” in the KJV means to “fill, accomplish, confirm, consecrate, gather (selves, together), flow in fullness, and fence.” I am intrigued by the idea that families were meant to bring consecration to the earth, and to fence it (provide godly boundaries to what goes on there), along with accomplishing God’s purposes and gathering people together – perhaps unto the Lord.

“Dominion” means to “tread down, subjugate, prevail against, rule, reign, and take.” It sounds like what a conquering army would do, doesn’t it? Although everything was perfect at the time of creation, God already knew that man would rebel, thereby  bringing upon the world great evil and dragging mankind into the universal spiritual conflict. Truly, we would have to prevail against our own sinful natures and against the devil. We would have to learn to rule and reign in the face of much opposition. God built into mankind the purpose of spiritual warfare, and He called it forth in the original family, Adam and Eve, before sin had yet entered their world.

The mandate for the family continued as a thread throughout Old Testament history. God called forth a people peculiarly His own through Abraham, and then defined that family more specifically through Isaac and his son Jacob, who became Israel. At each step of the way, hindrances arose to the purposes of family being fulfilled, for Abraham’s wife Sarah was barren, and so was Isaac’s wife Rebekah. Only through prayer and divine intervention were the obstacles removed, so that God’s chosen family could accomplish His redemptive plan. God promised blessing to all the people of the earth through Abraham, which was fulfilled through Abraham’s “seed” — Messiah Jesus (Galatians 3:8-16). The earth was eventually to be “consecrated” (one of the meanings in that word “replenish”) through Jesus, Abraham’s descendant. We will see the final consecration take place when Jesus returns to earth to restore all things.

Throughout Old Testament times, the people of Israel understood that their purpose was to be a living testimony to God’s reality and faithfulness. They knew that He had said to Abraham, “In your seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed” (Genesis 22:18). Furthermore, He had instructed them to welcome the stranger and give him a place in the land — the understanding being that the stranger would embrace the Israelites’ God and the way in which He was to be worshiped. They did not yet understand the details of how that would all unfold through the Messiah, but they did have the concept of their family being used by God to bring others to know Him.

I have been laying foundation to establish the importance of family, from the very beginning, in the heart of God. Next time, we’ll talk about how we can apply these truths in our time, so that we and our families can fulfill our God-given mandate.

Next: Part 2

Character Building for Families

Character Building for Families

Considering God’s Creation (Curriculum Review)

Considering_Gods_Creation_SetI’d like to share with you a favorite science program out of our homeschooling past — Considering God’s Creation. Authored by sisters Susan Mortimer and Betty Smith, who homeschooled their own children and were themselves homeschooled on the mission field, Considering God’s Creation is a multi-grade level (teach all the kids at once from the same curriculum), semi-hands-on approach to earth and life science.

Like many “written for homeschoolers, by homeschoolers” programs, it is easy to work with, because the authors understand the homeschool lifestyle from personal experience.

Considering God’s Creation is advertised as being suitable for 2nd-7th grade. In my estimation, the ideal age for use is 3rd – 4th grade, but using the “Digging Deeper” suggestions in each lesson for further research projects could extend its usefulness to the older grades as well.

The materials consist of a teacher’s manual with instructions and lecture material in print form, a music CD with songs which correlate with the lessons, and a 270-page PDF student workbook. Because the workbook is delivered as a PDF, you can print as many workbooks as you need for your family. That’s a lot of time, ink, and wear on the printer, but at least you avoid shipping charges. (Tip: Get ink for a fraction of the cost on eBay.)

Rock_thumbThe workbook can be collected into a three-ring binder, and makes a very nice science keepsake notebook when complete. My daughter loved to look through her completed pages again and again, frequently crawling up into her daddy’s lap to share her science book — all without any prompting from Mom!

Twenty-two topics are presented, which will take you one to three years to  cover, if you work through them thoroughly. We needed about two years to complete the curriculum. We enjoyed spending extra time on some of our favorite topics, supplementing with additional materials from the library. (Why hurry, when you’re having fun learning?)

Topics include creation, the universe, earth, light, sound, wind, weather, clouds, rocks, the plant and animal kingdoms, food chains, reproduction and genetics, and human and animal anatomy/physiology.

The materials are decidedly Christian in emphasis, come from a young earth creationist viewpoint, and are full of very well researched information. I was impressed with how comprehensive the lessons were.

I really liked the nice balance between instructional information (lecture material) and hands-on activities. There were no failed experiments  and no turning the kitchen into a science laboratory, where the  countertop is overrun with aquariums and terrariums full of who-knows-what kinds of disgusting creatures and their by-products! The hands-on projects are simple enough for Mom and interesting enough for the kids, so everyone keeps smiling.

Many of the worksheet pages are simple color, cut, and paste activities, or pages to record observations, rather than actual experiments.

I thoroughly liked this program. So did my daughter. We were both a little sad when it was all done.

To sum up, this is an exceptionally well-done science curriculum, easy to use, presenting a worldview which will be acceptable to most Christians, with minimal lesson preparation time for Mom. Parents and their children are both going to like working with Considering God’s Creation.