Tag Archives: religion

Foxes Have Holes…

October 20th (I know, I’m a little behind in posting this) officially marked a milestone in Jude’s life.  It was the longest that he has ever lived in one house without moving.

For those of you who aren’t intimately familiar with our lives, we decided before Jude was born that we were going to follow God’s call to serve in the country of Moldova for two years following Josh’s graduation from Bible college.  Jude was born in February 2009, and four months later we moved to live back and forth between our parents’ houses for three months before leaving for Moldova in September.

Because of Moldova’s visa requirements, before we got our green cards, we were only allowed to stay in the country for three months, and then we had to be out of the country for three months.  So in December, we packed up and moved back to our parents’ houses for three months.   Back to Moldova in March, we lived for three more months in our tiny apartment on the camp property where the school is.  Then, on May 20th, we moved down the road into our current residence where we are house and dog-sitting for an American family we work with who are back in America on furlough for eight months.  We have now lived here for five months.

Whew!  That made me tired just typing all of that, much less living it.

So why have we put our son (and ourselves) through so much moving and instability?  Because Josh and I resolved a long time ago to follow God’s call no matter what, and we know that this is what he has called us to do.  Throughout it all, we have clung to Matthew 8:20- “And Jesus said to him, ‘Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.’”  When we follow Christ, he doesn’t promise us a life of ease and stability.  What he does promise us is that, “Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Matthew 10:39).

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Tools for Dads (And Moms, too!)

Big thanks to a very special guest columnist–my very own husband, Joshua Caleb Hutchens– for this awesome post!

Fatherhood comes with great responsibility.  American culture portrays dads as either stern and distant or goofy and unreliable.  Contrary to these depictions, it is the father–not the mother–who has the primary role in teaching the children about God.  When Moses commands Israel, “You shall teach [God’s commands] diligently to your children,” he is speaking directly to fathers–the heads of the households and clans (Deut 6:6).  This is why he can say that God is the God of their fathers (Deut 6:3).

Proverbs is essentially an entire book focused on the father-child teaching relationship.*  Proverbs 1:8 says, “Hear, my son, your father’s instruction, and forsake not your mother’s teaching.”  So, while Proverbs recognize the indispensable role of a mother, the father is portrayed as the primary teacher of wisdom (a.k.a. the fear of the Lord).

We fathers tend to think of our role as provider in material ways alone.  It is our job to “bring home the bacon.”  We need to remember the words of Jesus:

“Do not lay up treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal” (Matt 6:19-20).

Material things are precarious and temporary.  The spiritual treasure is eternal and of far greater worth.  If we provide for our families materially but do not provide for them spiritually, then we have failed.

Like every job of fatherhood, a dad needs a good set of tools to instruct his children in the fear of the Lord.  So, for this father’s day I’d like to share a few tools that our family has found helpful in beginning to teach Jude about God.

Hymns

I start with this one because it is free.  In my humble opinion, few modern songs can come close to the theological and emotional depth of hymns, especially the really, really old hymns.  We put together a PDF document of lyrics, titled Lullaby Hymns, of the hymns that we sing most often when putting Jude to sleep.  If you don’t know the tune, NetHymnal can be really helpful since they have the tune for tons of hymns online for free (as far as I know, this is the only website today still using those midi files that we all thought were so cool in the 90s).  We also enjoy Indelible Grace, a group committed to helping churches recover old hymns.  We know many of the hymns in our Lullaby Hymns collection from listening to their music.  Or if you can read music, just pick up an old hymnal.  Whatever you do, sing hymns to and with your children.  Fill their little minds with lyrics about the greatness and the love of God.

The Big Picture Story Bible

There really is nothing like this story Bible on the market today.  It doesn’t focus on individual stories like Noah’s Ark, Joshua and the Battle of Jericho, or Daniel and the Lion’s Den.  It tells the “big picture story” of the entire Bible.  This focus on “the forest rather than the trees” is something that you really must do as a teacher.  The Bible isn’t a book of isolated and unrelated stories like Aesop’s Fables.  It is a book with a single story about God establishing his kingdom.  All the individual stories are encompassed in the grand narrative.  Children must be taught the big story, and this book does exactly that in a way that is understandable for kids and enjoyable for parents.  The illustrations are great and will keep your kids’ attention.

The Jesus Storybook Bible: Every Story Whispers His Name

Now of course it is also important for your children to know the individual stories of the Bible.  This book is great for doing just that.  The problem with many story Bibles for little ones is that it ends up moralizing the story.  The story of David and Goliath is given the meaning of courage in the face of adversity, while in fact the story points to Jesus by showing how God conquers his enemies through his anointed king.  An important question to ask yourself when teaching the Old Testament is–”Would a conservative Jew agree with me or want to kill me?”  It is obvious in the book of Acts that the Apostle’s interpretation of the Old Testament caused the latter reaction.  The Old Testament wasn’t meant to teach us how to be nice moral people.  It points to Jesus.  This book tells the individual stories in a captivating way with wonderful illustrations, while at the same time showing how each story points to Jesus.  We gave our copy away and are excited that our parents are bringing another when they come visit next month.

Seeds Family Worship

We’ve just discovered this in the last couple weeks.  This group puts Bible verses (from the NIV) to music.  The value of putting things to music for memory is universally recognized.  So far, Seeds has five CDs based on themes like faith or courage.  The songs are not the annoying children’s tunes that drive you bonkers.  They are enjoyable to listen to, and except for the reserved use of children’s voices you wouldn’t even know that it is children’s music.  CDs are fairly priced and also available on iTunes.  If you can’t afford them all at once, you can still listen online for free.

Big Truths for Young Hearts: Teaching and Learning the Greatness of God

Admittedly, we haven’t used this with Jude much yet since it has older children in mind, but we have already been familiarizing ourselves with this book.  It is theologian Bruce Ware’s attempt to reconstruct the many conversations he had with his daughters about God and theology.  He explains things clearly and uses some great illustrations.  It will be a great resource for family worship in the future, and I would highly recommend it for anyone wanting to read a short overview of systematic theology in layman’s terms.

“Slugs & Bugs & Lullabies”

This CD is mostly fun.  It is a great combination of songs about God, silly songs, and lullabies from daddies.  It has everything from the song “God Made Me,” where they sing, “God made me like he made the sea; he filled it up with green and blue.  He sent his Son, his only one, to fill me up and make me new,” to “Bears,” where they sing, “Bears, bears, they got no cares.  Bears don’t drink from a cup.”

“How I Pastor My Family”

This is a short article by Pastor Justin Hyde of Christ Church Brenham, Texas.  It has some interesting suggestions and encouragement for dads.  If you are a dad, then you are the pastor of your family.  You will lead your family spiritually.  The question is–in what direction?

There are many great children’s resources out there.  These are just the current tools we use with our son.  Even though he is just sixteen months old, it is never too soon to begin teaching.  I suspect he is understanding much more than we can know and than he can communicate.  All of these resources will be helpful at least through early elementary school.

Other resources that are on our wish list that you might also find helpful include:

Mighty Acts of God: A Family Bible Story Book

Books by Debby Anderson

Books by Carine Mackenzie (especially the “Learn about God” series)

The “Big Book” Series by Sinclair Ferguson

*Some scholars believe that Proverbs was based on the teacher-pupil relationship since teachers were often addressed as fathers and likewise called their students sons.  Even if this is so, that such language was adopted for the teacher-pupil relationship only serves to prove the point that fathers are instructors.

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Too Young to Date?

This is awesome.  More Christians need to be telling their children this:

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To Santa or Not To Santa?

This is the question we, and many other young families I know, are asking ourselves this Christmas- should we “do” Santa or not?  There are a lot of solid Christians on both sides of this issue, and it is a personal decision for every family.

I recently found a thought-provoking article by Thabiti Anyabwile explaining why Santa is not a part of his family’s Christmas.  You can read it here. I particularly like his response to this common objection:

A fair number of parents have, almost in panic, expressed concern that should there be no Santa Claus their children would not have fun at Christmas…  No doubt Christmas is fun. Even as parents, we get great delight from seeing our children’s faces as they rummage through the boxes and gifts. But the implication here is that Christmas without the trappings, Christmas exclusively focused on the birth of the Savior, is boring. The argument implies that there is no anticipation associated with awaiting the celebration of Jesus’ incarnation.

He also, in another article, gives some tips for parents who choose not to do Santa on how to equip their children to answer the inevitable question, “What is Santa going to bring you this year?”

One very important point that Thabiti makes for those of us who choose not to do Santa, is that it must ALL be done in a spirit of humility.  How easy would it be to look at other families who do believe in Santa and decide we are more holy than they are?  That is just not true.  I know plenty of wonderful Christians who do Santa with their children.  And I have already noticed in trying to explain why we are choosing not to do Santa, it’s VERY difficult to do so without sounding self-righteous.  And honestly, even the most humble attempts will still put some people on the defensive.

To sum up the foundation of why we are not doing Santa, I quote one of Thabiti’s Q&A that he gives in the second article:

Q: “What’s wrong with believing in Santa?”

Ans: “Others can.  But I think it’s better to believe in real things that are wonderful and beautiful, like Jesus.”

ETA: I just found a really good video on youtube of John Piper preaching about the story of Santa vs. the Gospel of Jesus.  Watch it here.

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Lullaby Hymns

Since having J, Hubs and I have spent many, many hours pacing the floors and singing to him in attempts to lull him into dreamland.  During that time, I’ve noticed that most children’s lullabys are seriously lacking in substance.

For starters, most of them are WAY too short for the amount of time that it takes J to fall asleep.  I don’t know, maybe some people out there have babies who can fall asleep in 10 seconds or less, but I don’t.  And I get tired of singing the same 4 lines over and over again.

Also, the subjects of these songs can be atrocious!  Think about singing, “Hush little baby, don’t say a word, Mama’s going to buy you a mockingbird.  And if that mockingbird won’t sing, Mama’s going to buy you…”  The whole song is based on the idea that money can fix everything.  I don’t need to be filling our heads with that nonsense.

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Or let’s sing “Rock a bye baby, in the tree top.  When the wind blows, the cradle will rock.  When the bough breaks, the cradle will fall, and down will come baby cradle and all.”  What???  Am I the only one who doesn’t see anything soothing about images of my baby and his cradle crashing to the ground in a windstorm?

Ok, enough ranting about lullabys and onto the purpose for this post.  Hubs and I have been singing hymns to J as we walk or rock him to sleep.  They are wonderful to teach your children and personally encouraging for me.  We quickly tired of the same handful of hymns to which we knew all of the words, however, and flipping through the hymnal to find songs that are both soothing and ones you know can be a challenge.

So this morning I put together a collection of Lullaby Hymns to be printed out and kept for easy reference during sleepy times.  Some of the songs may have to be slowed down a bit from how you are accustomed to singing them, but make wonderful lullabys when you do so.  I then decided to post them on here as a resource for any other parents who may be tired of their lullaby options.  So without further ado, I give you:

Lullaby Hymns pdf

Updated 6/14/10- added several new songs and fixed typos

Updated 7/13/09- changed to PDF instead of docx

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God’s Mission in Moldova and Our Small Part

Hubs made this video to help show people the situation in Moldova, what God is doing there, and our small part in all of it. Visit http://www.gospellife.org for more information.

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Scary Bedtime Prayer

I never thought about the old “Now I lay me down to sleep” prayer being scary until I saw this hilarious bit from Tim Hawkins:

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