Archive for the Sermon Follow-Up Category

May 11

Mom’s Bible Reading: Do What You Can

2009 | by Ryan Kelly | Category: Quote,Recommended Link,Sermon Follow-Up

How does a mom of young children — say, three still in diapers — find any time for Bible intake? “Do What You Can” is the answer Don Whitney gives in Simplify Your Spiritual Life: Spiritual Disciplines for the Overwhelmed (pp. 157-158). In this short/excellent chapter, Whitney describes one woman’s example and advice:

She was converted in her late teens. Discipled well from the start, Jean thrived on a spiritual diet strong on disciplines like the reading, studying, and meditating on God’s Word, prayer, fellowship, service, evangelism, worship, silence and solitude, journal-keeping, and Scripture memory. She felt herself making spiritual progress almost daily. All this continued after she married her equally-dedicated husband, Roger.

Then she had three children in diapers. Caring for their most basic needs eliminated almost every moment of the time she used to devote to caring for her soul. Her longings for the things of God reached as high as ever, but her time and energy had new and severe limits.

On at least three occasions I’ve eavesdropped as Jean addressed young moms in similar situations. In effect she’s told them, “At this time in your life, you can’t do what you’re used to doing. You don’t have time for all your heart desires to experience in your spiritual life. Nevertheless, do what you can do, even though it’s precious little. Just don’t deceive yourself by thinking that you can put off a devotional life until you have more time. Because when the years roll around and you finally do have more time, your spiritual habits will be so ingrained that you won’t give more attention to your devotional life at all.”

Then I heard Jean tell her own story. She would keep Bibles open in several rooms–in the kitchen, nursery, bathroom–and look at them when she could. While warming a bottle or changing a diaper, she’d glance over and perhaps read only one verse. But this discipline helped her keep the Word in her heart and the presence of God in her awareness. And as the children’s needs grew less demanding, her disciplines were already in place to receive any additional time she could give them. Even though Jean felt almost spiritually dormant during those years in comparison to her early growth as a Christian, she kept alive the spiritual disciplines through which her soul would blossom in years to come.

Like Jean with three in diapers, you may be in a situation that curtails many of your spiritual activities. You may be looking at many months or even years of such limitations. Do what you can. God does not love us more when we do more, nor less when we do less. He accepts us, not because of what we do for Him, but because of what He’s done for us in Christ.

The Bible says, “He made us accepted in the Beloved [that is, Jesus]” (Ephesians 1:6). And nothing “shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:39). Love God, and within the limitations He has sovereignly placed in your life at this time, do what you can.

Like the above chapter, several of the book’s 90 chapters (two pages each) are available online for free. I’m sure once you read the online chapters, you’ll want to buy the full book to read to rest.

Apr 20

Sermon-Talk at Our Kitchen Table

2009 | by Ryan Kelly | Category: Quote,Recommended Link,Sermon Follow-Up

Yesterday I preached “A Seven Mile Walk through the Old Testament: What Jesus Might Have Said to the Emmaus Disciples” (Luke 24:25-27). Shortly after, at our family lunch, my ever-wise wife suggested that, in light of the message, we should go back through The Jesus Storybook Bible (which is, really, a Biblical Theology for kids). So, at dinner last night, Autumn, our 10 year old, read us the first chapter. It ends with these great words about God’s plan (p. 17, emphasis added):

The Bible is most of all a Story. It’s an adventure story about a young Hero who comes from a far country to win back his lost treasure. It’s a love story about a brave Prince who leaves his palace, his throne — everything — to rescue the one he loves. It’s like the most wonderful of fairy tales that has come true in real life!

You see, the best thing about this story — it’s true.

There are lots of stories in the Bible, but all the stories are telling one Big Story. The Story of how God loves his children and comes to rescue them.

It takes the whole Bible to tell this story. And at the center of the Story there is a baby. Every story in the Bible whispers his name. He is like the missing piece in a puzzle — the piece that makes all the other pieces fit together and suddenly you can see a beautiful picture.

And this is no ordinary baby. This is the Child on which everything would depend.

Since I began my sermon by saying how the Bible is like a puzzle that needs putting together and has Jesus at the center, some of the kids wondered if I had gotten parts of my sermon from The Jesus Storybook Bible (I think the quote was, “Hey, wait a minute, you said the Bible is like a puzzle with Jesus in the middle!). Well, I hadn’t consciously “borrowed” from the kids’ book, but that wouldn’t have been such a bad thing. It’s such a great book.

Other similar, great “Biblical Theology for kids” are:

P.S. I hope to add some further “Biblical Theology resources for the older crowd” here on the blog in the next day or two.

Mar 31

How Children Come to Faith in Christ

2009 | by Ryan Kelly | Category: Gospel,Recommended Link,Sermon Follow-Up

In an earlier post I pointed to some resources for wrestling through the issues of the gospel, conversion, and assurance with our kids. One of the best resources I’ve found is the the Family Life Today radio interviews with Jim Elliff, “How Children Come to Faith in Christ.” You can purchase the series on audio CDs here, which I already mentioned. However, in addition I discovered that six of the sessions are available online for free:

1. Genuine Salvation: More Than a Prayer

2. How Children Come to Faith in Christ

3. Taking our Children to Church: Is that Enough?

4. How to Deal With Doubt

5. Observing Salvation in Your Child: What Does it Look Like?

6. The Family: No Better Place to Come to Know Christ!

Transcripts are also available at the bottom of each of these pages’ links.

I cannot recommend these talks enough to any parent wanting to be thoughtful, careful, and prayerful in the salvation of their children. They are also helpful for thinking through the gospel, conversion, and assurance for ourselves and at any age.

Mar 25

The Four Soils and Children: Some Resources for Parents

2009 | by Ryan Kelly | Category: Gospel,Recommended Link,Sermon Follow-Up

My latest sermon looked at the parable of the four soils in Luke 8. In the last third of the message I sought to analyze and apply this important parable in five different ways:

1. Thinking through some of the theological issues in the parable

2. Applying the parable to our witness to and discipleship of others

3. Applying it directly and pointedly to those who may not yet have come to true faith

4. Applying it specifically to the salvation of our kids

5. Applying it to the ongoing reception of God’s Word as his disciples

On that fourth point of application — the salvation of our kids in light of the parable of the four soils — I’d like to mention some follow-up resources:

1. Dennis Gundersson, Your Child’s Profession of Faith booklet (available at the DSC Resource Center for $1).

2. DSC’s Baptism class for parents and young people. We just finished a class, but will be offering it again soon.

3. Jim Elliff, How Children Come to Faith in Christ – seven sessions from the Family Life Today radio program.

4. Some related articles from Desiring God:

Will the Next Generation Know?

A Note to Parents of Young Children

Raising Children Who are Confident in God