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Monday, October 18, 2010

"...and a little child shall lead them..." Concerning another pair of cowboy boots

NASB has "little boy" in that verse, but either way, it is a fitting title for this post.

I have been thinking more about my long career of working with children. The rewards of doing so have been huge. Countless times through the years I have been pleased to see how much young children can comprehend. I saw this in my own children and in others as well. I am amazed at how readily little ones seem to grasp the truths of God's word and His world, and I love it when they are overwhelmed by those truths.

My son was in the third grade our first year of home schooling, so he already had some of the basics down. When I was teaching my daughter (I taught her from pre-school through high-school), however, and I was very nervous about teaching her to read. I remember thinking that I had no clue how I was going to accomplish what seemed to me to be a monumental feat. I was awed at how readily her mind absorbed what she was given and I realized that it is the Lord who has equipped our minds for this task. He has created the brain to be a receiver of knowledge and His highest purpose for this is the reception of His truths so that we might glorify, praise, worship, and enjoy Him.

Teaching the same students week after week enables me to take a measure of their understanding. This isn't fool proof, as sinners are capable of deception and there are wolves in sheep's clothing, but the very young are less likely to have mastered the art of guile. One young cowboy I currently have in my preschool Sunday school class has been a continuing source of delight for me. I could tell last year that the Spirit was working on his heart (I have seen this in several of my students in the class) by his response to things I was teaching. I have observed a growing understanding and conviction of sin, and this year he has been expressing his awe over the power of God.

Our children's program is utilizing the Generations of Grace curriculum from Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, California. Our children's church and all three levels of Sunday school are using it. This means that children from 3 year olds through 6th graders are studying the same verses, being taught the same lessons on different levels. My preschool Sunday school is a week behind right now, as I felt I needed an extra week with the Creation verses, but I plan to be caught up in a few weeks. This is a three-year curriculum which teaches through the Bible from beginning to end, and we have just started back on year one, so we are currently in the book of Genesis.

I was teaching from Genesis 2:21-22, explaining to the children about the surgery that God did on Adam to remove his rib, and when I told them that He formed the woman from Adam's rib, my little cowboy exclaimed, "Whooooa..." His amazement was unmistakable. I got that same response yesterday when I was discussing the longevity of the men in the generations from Adam to Noah. He was quite impressed at anyone living to be nine hundred plus years old.

When I was teaching the account of the murder of Abel by his brother Cain in Genesis 4:8, I took the opportunity to emphasize the serious nature of sin (Romans 3:10-18). I have been very convicted about making sure children don't believe that by being good, obeying their parents and teachers, etc.—that this will make them good enough to go to heaven. I have been emphasizing our sin nature and the need for Jesus to save us. In the midst of this discussion, the cowboy raised his hand. I called on him and he proceded to tell me a story...

These are not Joe's boots. They are
his little brother's boots. I couldn't
find a picture of Joe's boots, but that
is his shoulder on the right. I figure
if you see how impressive these are
you will be able to appreciate
how stare-worthy
and lie-worthy
Joe's must be.
This is a teeny tiny part of another
of Jenn Marshall's photos.
The bigger picture is much nicer.
Joe: A long, long time ago, when I was a LOT younger, I was standing in the hallway looking at my boots.

My thoughts: Oh, of course, he is speaking of his cowboy boots; what's not to admire?

Joe: My mom said, "Joe are you in bed?" I said, "Yes."

My thoughts as I type this: I wish you could have seen the conviction on that little boy's face.

Joe: My mom said again, "Joe are you in bed?" and I said, "Yes"...I was lying...but I was really little then.

When I related this to his mother later, she noted that this happened all of eight weeks earlier, back when he was four. She expressed joy at his willingness to confess this and said that she prays he will come to understand his need for a Savior and hopes that some day he will be convicted of exaggerating his stories. 

It is so important to pray for children. Only God can open up their minds to understand the truth, and of course the reason He can do so is the fact that Jesus Christ took their punishment on the cross over 2000 years ago. It is His righteousness that will get us into heaven. We are bankrupt and incapable of obtaining it on our own (Galatians 2:21; Titus 3:5). I have often told children that once we are convicted of our sins and confess them to the Lord, that He forgives us of those sins, we become His children and from that point on when He looks at us as our Father, He sees us through Jesus-colored glasses (Isaiah 45:24; 54:27). Those give a much more delightful picture than rose-colored glasses, because Jesus-colored glasses portray the Truth - that we are imputed with Christ's righteousness (Romans 10:4; 1 Corinthians 1:30; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Philippians 1:9-11), whereas rose-colored glasses just make things seem better than they are.

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