The Passion of Jesus Christ by John Piper is an amazing book. The subtitle is: Fifty Reasons Why He Came to Die.
Reason #6 is To Show His Own Love for Us.
Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. Ephesians 5:2
Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her. Ephesians 5:25
[He] loved me and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20
John Piper writes: The death of Christ is not only the demonstration of God’s love (John 3:16), it is also the supreme expression of Christ’s own love for all who receive it as their treasure. The early witnesses who suffered most for being Christians were captured by this fact: Christ “loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20). They took the self-giving act of Christ’s sacrifice very personally. They said, “He loved me. He gave himself for me.”
John continues: Surely this is the way we should understand the sufferings and death of Christ. They have to do with me. They are about Christ’s love for me personally.
This book has changed the way I view Christ’s death and his resurrection.
I was reading a blog the other day that was very sad.
This person told about breaking up with their boyfriend,
then going to a terrible party, getting drunk, then feeling miserable about her
life. One bad incident triggered three miserable events.
I realize that this happens often, to both men and women.
There is an old country/western song that said,
“Looking for love in all the wrong places,
Looking for love in too many faces, Searchin’ their eyes and lookin’ for traces
of what I’m dreamin’ of.”
Looking for love. That is the very essence of who we are.
Why? Because God created us that way.
God planted deep within our hearts a powerful yearning for
authentic love. That yearning was intended to bring us closer to Him. It was
also intended to bring us into families. Children desire love above all else.
Women long for a deep relationship with one strong man. Men long for a deep
relationship with one tender woman. We want to be special. We long for
commitment and security in one intimate relationship.
When those longings are not fulfilled, our lives crash. After
my own divorce, I hit rock bottom.
The song goes on to say, “Playin’ a fool’s game, hopin’ to
win.” And “I did everything I could to get me through the night.”
It doesn’t have to be that way. God has longings too. He
longs for us to turn toward Him so He can pour His love out on us. He longs to
provide the relationships we desire.
It took me lots of time before I realized I just needed more
of God. When I rededicated my life to Him, He filled my life to overflowing with Love!
But we have to ask. Try it. Start talking to Him today. The
Name of Jesus is very powerful. Ask in Jesus’ name for what you need. God will hear.
You must be willing to set your pride down and admit where
you have gone wrong. God will hear.
Have you experienced God’s love? Share your story here.
Have you ever been out people watching? Go to a public place: like a mall, coffee shop, or a park. Sit quietly and just watch. Listen carefully. What are people discussing? What do they argue about? How do parents handle their children?
Different cultures reveal their value systems by the behaviors
of the people within that culture. It is difficult to notice, until you are
plopped down in the middle of a foreign culture. That is when we begin to see
people acting very differently than we would and we begin to wonder why. And
that is when many of us begin to point fingers and accuse.
In Saudi Arabia, families have private, curtained booths in
which to eat their fast food. The people who live there say it is to protect
their women. Americans say it is demeaning to women. Americans value
independence and personal rights above most other things – sometimes to their
Philosophy is the study of problems about such things as language,
values, reason, mind, knowledge and existence.
My son, Matt Fujimoto,
is currently working on philosophy research in Kyoto, Japan.
In his own words: “I am currently a Ph.D. Student in Philosophy writing my dissertation on comparative Japanese and Western philosophy in Kyoto, Japan. I hope, through my studies, to be able to bring a better understanding of Eastern philosophy to a Western audience.”
He has written articles such as:
A ‘language’ for everything
Call me Angel
Is Shinto a religion?
Informal Fallacies or “What could possibly go wrong?”
Passing on our personal faith in Jesus Christ to children is one of the most important things we can ever do. A recent Barna study indicates that nearly half of all Americans who accept Jesus Christ as their savior do so before reaching the age of 13 (43%), and that two out of three born again Christians (64%) made that commitment to Christ before their 18th birthday.
Sometimes kids can be difficult to teach. They need to bounce. They need to talk about their pets. They interrupt. But put a few tools in your teaching tool belt and the problems will smooth right out.
Teach the kids – not the curriculum. Many times, teachers enter the room with prepared curriculum and are insistent that the class get through the material. I have watched kids sit through lessons as words fly past them. Then the kids get up and go home with no idea of what it was all about. Speak to them, look into their eyes, let them ask questions. If you don’t finish all the material, bring it back for a second lesson. It’s better for the kids to go home with one firm thought, than for them to leave with everything over their head.
Ask them if they have any questions. I often start my lessons this way: “What questions do you have about God?” I am amazed at the deep questions the kids have, that no one has taken the time to answer. “How can God be everywhere at once?” “How can Jesus be God if he is on earth and the Father is in heaven?” “Why is the Bible so hard to read?” “How did Jesus know what was going to happen to him?” These are all very important questions. If you don’t know the answer to something they ask, that’s okay. Just say, “I don’t know.” Then go find out and report back. Kids often feel shy about asking these kinds of questions, so I always let them know how important their questions are. The next time, they won’t be so hesitant.
Give them hands on activities to connect with the ideas. Children are tactile. They need to see and touch – even taste. Let the kids act out Bible stories in mini-skits. They LOVE any kind of costumes. Keep the lines short and simple. Usually when we act out a Bible story, it only takes a minute or two, so we repeat it several times with different kids in different roles. Everyone is excited to try every role at least once! By the end of our time, they know the story very well. Paper cut outs, drawings, water paints, and clay molding all work very well too. Give them a theme and let them get to work. You will be astounded at some of the results.
Respect their individual maturity levels. Some kids are full of deeply thought through questions while others just want to talk about their last soccer game. Don’t push kids. When they are ready, they will respond.
Keep it short. Young elementary kids need a change of topic or activity every 10-15 minutes. Older elementary can maybe go 20-25 minutes, then change up the activity. Get them up and moving. Give them something to create. Watch for signs that they need a change. When the kids lose focus, they are not being disobedient, they are being the kids God created them to be.
Really listen to them. What did they go through in the past few days or week that was hard for them? What excites them? Children often struggle with the death of a pet for far longer than we think they should. If they are still talking about something, it’s important to them.
Teach in small groups. Five to eight students in a group is ideal. Any more than that and some kids will get lost in the crowd. Those are the ones who will most likely choose to stay home when their parents give them the choice or when they become teenagers. And they may never come back.
Children love hearing the stories of the Bible. And they love any adult who will sit with them and share their own stories of faith. I teach children because they pour their love right back to me.
What have you found helpful when teaching children? Let’s get a conversation going and reach those kids for Christ.