Paul Jones

Reading the bible with your children in 2019

Christ Church Walkley-29 (1).jpg

This is the third in our New Year bible reading series. This one is from Paul Jones who has two young sons.

Reading the bible with your children isn't easy - and I think that that's certainly true for me. I find it hard, but it's also fair to say that it is really rewarding. Our boys, 5 and 8, are both beginning to ask some really big and sometimes tough questions, which makes bible time exciting too.

We have 2 main 'slots' in the day where we do things. When we sit down for tea, we pray through the church family using the church prayer diary. We pray too, for the people we have around our table for tea that night. It's also a good time to make it a habit of saying thank you together, for our food. During Advent, we add in prayer and chat about the name of Jesus that is on our advent candle for that day. As the boys have gotten older this has been a good way to start to weave the whole bible narrative together.

The second slot is when we read the bible to the boys before bed. This has become a little more complicated recently. Our eldest has outgrown the Jesus Storybook Bible and The Big Picture Bible, so we got him the Holy Bible for Kids (ESV), which is the one he uses in Sunday School as well as the version we use in church. When we are reading the passage together, he will look up the reference in his bible and follow along with us. The Big Picture Story Bible is slightly easier for this as it provides references for each reading. This has helped to show both boys that the stories they are learning about come from the same bible as Daddy and Mummy have, and that we read from on Sunday at church. It has also allowed Sam to start linking things together - only last night he spotted that there were two instances in Matthew's gospel where God says "This is my Son with whom I am well pleased..." and so we were able to chat about that.

We then pray, normally in three ways; thank you prayers where the boys share, we pray about what we have learnt about Jesus from our passage, and sorry prayers which sometimes the boys will pray. From time to time we have to push hard on the thank you and sorry prayers - but as we say to the boys "there is always something we can say Thank You to God for!" and they are quickly learning that even if they've not been told off, there is always the need for God's forgiveness! We also make sure that we talk to the boys about what they've been learning in Sunday School. They don't always follow the sermon series - although when that happens it can make for a great discussion - so talking to them is really interesting. Seeing how their understanding of who Jesus is and what God has done is growing all the time.

Less formally, we have tried to take to heart Deuteronomy 6v4-7:

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 6 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

To talk about the things of God all the time. Whether they be in relation to school things, or a great view when we are out walking, a rainbow or when the boys ask us questions. One of the things that Jennie is particularly good at is praying with the boys if they are worried about something, or can't sleep, or are having a nightmare. We are conscious that whilst the more formal slots are important, showing the boys that following Jesus is all encompassing and that God is not just interested in, but in charge of, all areas of our lives is really important too.

It isn't always easy, and sometimes it is the last thing that I want to do after a long day at work - but I never feel that afterwards. It's not just your children who benefit, you do too. I'm sure we could do more and I'm sure others do lots of other exciting and encouraging things; so as parents, godparents and members of God's wider family - let's be better at talking about these things and better at asking for help, so we can all be the better for it.

samantha-sophia-34200-unsplash.jpg



This summer why not... pray like an apostle?

gonard-fluit-331565-unsplash.jpg

This is the third in our Summer Reads series. Find all the books in the series, including this one, here.

I wonder what you think the church should be doing? What is it that will drive CCW forward? The preaching? Our events and evangelism? The music? Small groups? Even our new building?

None of these things are bad, by any means, but Don Carson writes:

The one thing we most urgently need in Western Christendom is a deeper knowledge of God. We need to know God better.

That seems like quite an obvious thing to say, and most of us will nod our heads in agreement. But the question that drives us next, and which is the premise of the book, is how on earth do we go about doing that.

Well, in 'A Call to Spiritual Reformation', Carson helps us to do that. Using prayers from Paul's epistles in the New Testament he helps us to see the importance and delight we can have in prayer, of how exciting it is to be able to come to God in prayer, what prayer teaches us about God and how we can pray better. 

If you are anything like me, your prayer life will hit peaks and troughs. You'll have good days and bad days. Sometimes we find ourselves wanting to pray but not knowing what or how to do so.

It's a book to read with your bible open next to you, and I recommend a pencil in hand too (my copy has bits underlined and notes in the margin) and it's a book to read through prayerfully. This book is a joy to read and brings even greater joy as we get our heads around both the joy and privilege of prayer, but how through that, the Lord opens our eyes further to how great he is!

The greatest way I can endorse this book is to tell you to read the prayer at the back before AND after you've read it. A prayer that Carson prays not for our greater education, but for our greater compassion. Where we don't learn simply how to pray better but how our prayers would become more fruitful adoration. Where he prays for God's blessing upon us, as without it - we are nothing.

Enjoy reading - but enjoy God and praying to him more!

No Idols!

rod-long-355994-unsplash.jpg

There is so much in this world that can drive us away from God, and we are gluttons for it! And God knows this, that's why the second commandment is to not create any idols. Make nothing, put nothing in place of God. Whilst the second commandment focuses on not creating graven images, things that we think might offer some resemblance to God, a real issue for Israel, our problem is often that we create idols of things that aren't inherently in and of themselves. 

We do it with our favourite toy, with our spouse, with children, with our work, our hobbies or our houses. Things that can so easily become all consuming and dominate our lives to the extent that they become our entire focus. Our lives become orientated to them, rather than to God.

It's no coincidence that this second commandment comes when it does - after the reminder of who God is and what he has done for Israel. "I am the LORD your God, who bought you out of Egypt." God says, "You shall have no other God's before me." God has revealed himself in such amazing ways to his people that to make something to represent God, or to worship something else is daft. More to the point, something that we could make - even the greatest of artist or sculptors - would not even come close to being a true representation of God. In fact, to look at an idol as our God, actually takes away from his glory because we would miss the mark by such a long way.

To avoid this completely God commands, for our own good, that we do not make idols of anything.

When Jesus comes we get even greater revelation:

Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.” Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me
— John 14v8-11b

You see Jesus is revealed as the image of God, the first born of all creation. The author of the letter to the Hebrews starts with these words about Jesus:

The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. So he became as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs.
— Hebrews 1v3-4

The Bible points us to Jesus. Jesus shows us the Father. Jesus is the image of God we need to look to and to worship. 

No idols, because God has revealed himself to us, ultimately in Christ. 

No idols, because Jesus is the one who rightly sits on the throne at the Father's side. 

No idols, because the LORD is far greater than we can ever imagine.

rod-long-355994-unsplash.jpg