Now that everyone is “quarantine schooling” (because this is not really homeschooling – homeschooling involves more social interaction than this), you may be wondering what in the world you are supposed to do with these kids. Many folks are saying don’t even bother trying to “do school.” After all, you’re not their teacher and this situation is stressful enough!
Then there are tons of memes and videos of people talking about how impossible it is to deal with their kids at home. Now they've realized how teachers should be paid more for putting up with their children every single day.
Well, I certainly can’t argue against teachers being paid more. But having been a school teacher and now a homeschooling mom, I do think we need to change our approach to this whole situation.
1) Embrace this opportunity! You now have the chance to be a parent again! If you are anything like me, before I started homeschooling most of my parenting was spent fussing at the kids to hurry up so we can move on to the next activity, whether that was going to school, going to practice, or going to bed. And it never failed they had no idea where their shoes were, which resulted in more fussing from me.
There is no effective parenting going on with that frenetic pace of life. This was one of the biggest factors that led to our decision to homeschool. However, I know not everyone can make that same choice, and God has called each family to a different dynamic as far as working vs. staying home.
Now, everything is canceled. There are no places to rush off to or activities you’re running late for. You have been gifted the opportunity to truly parent. Is it exhausting and difficult to have your kids at home with you ALL day EVERY day? Absolutely. Will you love every minute of it? Probably not. Especially if you have a child like my youngest. He challenges me at every turn. But this is what God has called you to when He blessed you with children. He charged you with doing the hard thing of raising another human being to know Him and to love Him (and to be a contributing member of society).
This child (or these children) belong to YOU, not the school, not the coach, not the dance teacher. Here is your chance to discipline and train up your child in the way they should go. Here is your chance to have a lasting impact on their behavior by being present with them in the home. No longer are you having to parent on the fly between activities, but you have all of these teachable moments while at home with them, away from the influence of their peers and pressures of the school hallways.
We have no idea how long this quarantine will last but these days can have a lasting impact on your children. So be the parent again. Discipline, teach, and nurture them. Teach them to respect and honor you. I'm including a video at the end of the post that will encourage you in that area.
2) Many parents are afraid to take on schooling because they don’t have a curriculum or school resources at home. While it is true homeschooling parents invest a lot of time and effort researching curriculum and books to find the right fit for each subject for each child, these circumstances certainly haven’t allowed parents the time to prepare like that.
But that doesn’t mean all is lost. I’ve seen so many people sharing free resources and ideas of things to do with your kids while you’re at home. There are truly so many wonderful resources available to help you do school with your kids. This is where we are blessed that Google still works.
What is even better though, if your kid has just been sent home from school, you don’t need your own curriculum. They’ve already been using a curriculum since August. Grab their textbook and start with the next section. Contact their teacher and see what you can use if they don’t have their books at home. Take some time each evening to look over a few things and plan what your child can do the next day. Is that tiring and time consuming? Absolutely! Is it worth it for your kid to still be learning during this time? Absolutely.
3) Under these circumstances, it really does not matter what curriculum or resources you use (within reason of course!). It simply matters that you use something. So don't stress over whether this worksheet or that math book is the perfect one for them. The important thing is to teach your children learning doesn't just happen inside the school building.
Besides, this is not a vacation. This is an unusual situation where the school building has been closed. But that doesn't mean their education has to stop. In many aspects, their education will be improved by this. Show them a pandemic is not an excuse to be lazy. Take an active role in knowing and understanding what your child is learning.
If that overwhelms you because your kids are in high school and are studying subjects you have long sing forgotten (or maybe never studied yourself!), challenge them by having THEM teach it to YOU. Trust me, you understand a subject in a whole new depth when you have to teach it to someone else. Then you BOTH get the education!
Teach them they can learn on their own - at all times - whether school is in session or not. It drives me crazy when students say they don’t “have” to read when they’re not in school. That is a terrible attitude toward learning! Here is an opportunity to change that perception. Instill in them a love for learning itself. Show them the joy of reading and the benefit of learning.
Though it seems school at home will be more stressful, consider that their learning time is no longer crammed between school bells and frantically rushed through between practice, dinner, and bedtime. "Quarantine school" can actually be a more relaxed environment if we approach this in the right way. Show them the joy of reading and learning something new by learning and reading alongside them.
4) Teach them learning doesn’t have to involve a screen. I know right now we’re using a lot of virtual classrooms (I’m using it to teach Algebra 2 and Pre-Calculus to our homeschool group!). But that shouldn’t be the only way your kid is engaging with information.
I am glad that so many places are offering free video resources, but at the same time that aggravates me that we still have this mindset that they need to watch a video to learn something, or that education must be entertainment-like so our kids will watch it.
Turn off the TV and the videos. Give them time to free play with the closet full of toys they probably have. Make them go outside to throw rocks and sticks (maybe that's because I have only boys - and of course the outdoor play shouldn't be with other kids in order to maintain this social distancing thing). Teach them a life skill. Have them cook dinner. Get them to finally clean their room. They can become a contributing member of the household. Give them chores to do. And if they refuse, well I reference you back up to #1. Be the parent.
Read to them. Read with them. Have them read to you. Give them a book of the Bible to study and have them summarize it or act it out with a sibling.
I understand this will look different for every house. In some homes parents still have to work but now have to do it with kids running underfoot. In some homes parents still have to GO to work with kids still at the house, and they’re juggling all kinds of things while still trying to maintain social distancing. Just try to keep these things in mind with the perspective that this is worth it.
Don't miss this opportunity for you to teach these valuable lessons to your children. For these homes juggling work duties with kids-at-home duties, it's another life lesson to get them to pitch in and help, according to their age and ability.
Yes, this is hard and stressful. But this is not insurmountable! The best way to overcome the stress is to give your children discipline and a routine with positive things to fill their day.
5) I know the timing of this quarantine is “inconvenient,” especially for high school or college seniors who are missing out on their final year of sports, prom, or graduation ceremonies. Having been a college athlete, I would have been crushed to have my senior year cut short. So when that seems too much to bear, just remember what high school seniors in 1942 were doing when they missed out on graduation. Or what college students from 1964 to 1973 were doing when they had to skip their spring break trips. That could be a great learning opportunity for older students. Tell them to research what life was like for young adults in those eras. Read about Medal of Honor winners, noting the typical age those heroes were when they made such incredible sacrifices.
In this crisis, we are simply being asked to stay home. And while it is disappointing, life is full of disappointments. Teach your children now how to deal with those disappointments in a Godly and God-honoring way. Show them what it looks like to live out Philippians 2:3-4: "Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others."
Ultimately, this is a beautiful time to bring the family unit back together so we can fulfill our call as parents in raising up the next generation to know God. Treasure this time with your children and TEACH them.
At the start of the time of the Judges in the Old Testament, there is one of the saddest verses in scripture. It says after Joshua died and his generation passed away, "there arose another generation after them who did not know the Lord or the work that he had done for Israel." How shameful. There arose a generation who did not know the Lord. That was a tremendous statement about the failure of the previous generation. After all they had seen the Lord do through them and for them, they failed to teach that to their children.
May we use this time of quarantine and bonus time at home with our children as a way to teach them about God and what He has done.
For a great video about children honoring their parents, click here: PragerU
Are you ready for the outbreak of COVID-19? And no, I don't mean if you've stocked up on toilet paper or not. It has been interesting, to say the least, to observe society's response to the looming threat of this pandemic. Many people have panicked; some have announced this is the sign of the end times; some have laughed it off as a big fuss over nothing. Regardless of how far this virus may spread, we know our every day normal has definitely changed for the next several weeks at least. Sports are canceled, schools are canceled, vacations are canceled. Are you prepared for all of these changes?
1. Are you prepared to slow down? I am certainly not trying to make light of this disease or the lives that have been lost because of it, but the measures taken to protect our society have certainly cleared up the calendar quite a bit! I think this was something all of us actually needed but didn't know how to institute on our own. We have become a society that is constantly on the go, running from one event to the next. We are all collectively exhausted from it. So soak up this mandatory time to slow down. Use this time now to do all those things we've said we just don't have time for. (And maybe we can find those things called books again...)
2. Are you prepared for extra family time? When we stop running around, it allows us to actually spend precious time with those around us. There are no sports on TV, so there's no big game or tournament you're missing. Turn off the TV and spend time with the ones you have pledged to love until death do you part.
3. Are you prepared to educate your children? Now that schools are closed, many parents are asking, "Who is going to watch my children?" That question itself is very telling about our education system. The question should be, "Who is going to teach my children?" The school should be doing more than just babysitting our kids. (As full disclosure I have been homeschooling this past year so I'm a little biased.)
Here is your opportunity to take an active part in your child's education. See what they're learning at school. Ask questions about it. Have discussions on what worldview is present in their textbooks and teacher's notes. Even better use it as a time to study the Bible with your kids. Without needing to rush off to school, spend time in the morning studying God's word with them.
4. Are you prepared to have your perspective shifted? My hope is that one byproduct of this situation is we regain proper perspective of things in our lives. We need to be reminded that entertainment is just entertainment. It seems the things we are obsessed with the most are the things that matter the least. In a crisis like this, we begin to see what things are truly essential and what things we have been wasting our time on.
5. Most important, are you prepared if the Coronavirus happens to you? We are all nervous about whether we will be infected or not, but the truth is, whether you are infected now or not, you will die one day. James 4:14 says, "You do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes." None of us are promised tomorrow. None of us are even promised our very next breath. This virus outbreak should remind us that life is fragile and fleeting.
It should cause you to think about what will happen when you die. In that moment, you will stand before the almighty God who created this universe and who is perfect, holy, and just. He must judge evil - and honestly, we desire Him to judge evil. We wouldn't want to worship a God who allows evil to go unpunished. We desire that justice down to our very core.
What will you say to this holy judge about the evil inside your own heart? Will you say, "Well I was a good person." Or, "I was better than so-and-so." Those statements don't absolve you of the evil that still lies within your own heart. Though you don't like to consider your own heart evil, it is the evil inside each of us that causes us to lie, to be angry, to get jealous, to covet what others have, and, worst of all, to think more highly of ourselves.
The only thing you can do is await God's just judgment on your evil heart. God cannot be in the presence of evil so the judgment is separation from this good and holy God. When God is love, light, life, and goodness imagine what an eternity separated from love, light, life, and goodness would hold. There is nothing you can do yourself to escape this judgment because everything you do still results in sin.
The only hope that you have is in the work God Himself did on your behalf on the cross. He knew you could never rid yourself of that sinning, evil heart. So He took on the just punishment in your place so you wouldn't have to face that. This is what was accomplished when Jesus was crucified on the cross. When you look to Him to cover over your sins, you can stand forgiven in His presence. And therefore you can remain in the presence of God, in the love, light, life, and goodness of a perfect and holy God.
May this be what you focus on during this Coronavirus threat. And may you cherish your loved ones enough to share what Jesus has done with them. Enjoy your extra time with your loved ones over these coming weeks.
Oh, and wash your hands with soap.
In my last post, I talked about ways not to study the Bible. This post has suggestions on how to establish a devoted time to properly study the Bible.
Once you establish good practices of studying the Bible, these are things to help you understand God’s Word as you study.
These are good ideas for how to approach the study of scripture. But where do you start? Thankfully, we are blessed in this nation to have access to so many tools to help you study God's Word.
Study Bibles are a great start. They give explanations, introductions, outlines of the text, cross-references, and notes. The marginal notes will help you with dates, places, and expanded definitions of words. They’ll also have maps and a topical index.
Concordances can also help look up any word found in the Bible. You could even get a topical Bible that organizes Scripture based on a special area of interest, like prayer, marriage, or salvation.
Bible dictionaries, timelines, maps, and atlases can help too.
There are also commentaries for every book in the Bible. Those are entire books dedicated to expounding on the text found within one book in the Bible. It’s a good idea to have more than one commentary – not all theologians agree on certain passages. The commentary can put the book in context and give a deeper appreciation for God’s Word.
From my personal experience, for many years I tried the 5-minute devotional for my quiet time. It always left me with this shallow feeling, like I wasn’t really learning anything new. It seemed just fluff and “feel good-isms” to help you just start the day in a good mood.
And I think I felt that way for good reason. Those five-minute devotionals are shallow. It was a fluffy feel-good story that you could apply to anything you wanted, with no depth and no context.
No wonder I left my quiet times feeling so unfulfilled! We can’t be fulfilled with God’s word in only 5 minutes with just some fluff application of a random few verses. How can you really even effectively apply those random few verses if you have no greater context? When you have no appreciation for the author or the setting?
The quote “et tu, Brute?” only has impact because we understand the characters, the context, and what was at stake. The impact of Scripture comes when we understand the characters, the context, and what is at stake.
We can’t live out the Scriptures and stand firm on God's Word in the face of persecution, scoffing, and criticism if we don’t understand the characters, the context, and what is at stake.
How can we defend God’s word to the world if we don’t truly know what it says? How can we answer criticisms about God’s character from certain passages if we don’t understand it in context; if we’ve only read a random selection of verses scattered across the Bible?
So think seriously about how you approach reading God’s word. The more you are in it, the more you will want to be. If you only dabble in enough Bible reading to fill a few minutes each week, then you’ll never feed your soul or move from the milk of babies to the steak of the mature walk.
We all stand in awe of the strength of faith of men like Paul, and David, and Abraham. But they had that strong faith because they were daily committed to knowing God. We can’t just sit back and wish we had that walk yet do nothing differently in our daily life to have that. If you never spend time with God, then how could you ever live a life like Daniel?
Why do we study the Bible? To know God; to enjoy and love God; to understand His commands; to learn direction in life; to find comfort and hope; to let God expose our innermost thoughts and desires; to become pure and holy; to obey the Great Commandment: to love God with all of our being.
John wrote in his gospel in chapter 17 verses 1-3, “Jesus spoke these words, lifted up His eyes to heaven, and said: “Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son, that Your Son also may glorify You, as You have given Him authority over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as You have given Him. And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.”
Jesus said that eternal life is knowing God. Therefore, our purpose, our number one effort in life, should be in pursuit of knowing God. But how do we do know God?
We must first start by studying God’s Word, by reading the very words He breathed out for us. After all, this was how God chose to communicate to us. Imagine if someone whom you loved very dearly wrote you a whole series of letters that describe the things they have done for you, the ways that they love you, their desires for your life, and describe the essence of who they are – but you never bothered to read them.
That is what God has done for us through His Word, so if we claim to love God, we should love reading those letters He left for us.
I think most believers would agree that we should be studying the Bible, but how well are we doing it?
The Five-Minute Devotional?
One common way people “study” the Bible is using daily devotional books. Those are intended to be read in 5-10 minutes, typically have one or two verses, a short personal story of how those verses were used in someone’s situation, and a two sentence prayer.
Now, there is nothing wrong with this approach in itself, but if this is the only thing you are doing, how well are you really learning the word of God?
I understand we all like the idea of only taking 5-10 minutes to do our devotion, however, consider what that says about our priorities. We’ll spend hours each day scrolling through social media, playing video games, watching TV, or surfing the internet, but we want to only give at most 5 minutes to the God and Creator of the universe who died for you?
Spending only five minutes a day in the Bible (especially when most of that time is reading some else’s interpretation of it) does not really implant the Scriptures in our hearts.
We see this concept for anything else in our lives. If you only spent 5 minutes a day exercising, can it really change your body type? If you spent 5 minutes a day practicing your instrument, could you ever advance in your skill? So to really have God’s Words stored in our hearts and transforming our minds, we must spend more than 5 minutes a day studying the Bible.
Furthermore, those one or two verses given are not being read in context. Each day’s verses are pulled from an entirely different part of the Bible and have no relationship to each other.
This is how false doctrine begins. We read a verse without any understanding of who said, when they said it, to whom they said it, and why they said it and from that we create a completely false understanding of what the scripture means. The five-minute devotional can not give us a depth of really understanding God and what God is doing through His people.
So the five-minute devotional needs to be used as a supplement to your actual scripture study. But this should not – and cannot – be the only way you are reading scripture. God’s words are to be written on our heart. We must understand them – and understand them in context - for it to really start changing our daily lives.
Read the Bible in a Year?
Another common method is the “read through the Bible in a year” study. The idea behind this comes from a great place. If you were to pick up any book, you wouldn’t start with chapter 14 and then read chapter 8 and then read chapter 1. You would start at the beginning and read straight through to the end.
So it is good to want to read the Bible in its entirety from the Genesis to Revelation. However, the Bible is a very unique book that makes this approach a little more cumbersome. Although it’s bound in one cover, the Bible is 66 individual books – and they are not all assembled in order chronologically.
Starting from the beginning and reading straight through can be confusing. It makes it difficult to understand what is happening without the proper context in time and history as well.
Typically these plans are designed to read a few chapters in one book then a few random verses from Psalms or Proverbs. How much context and digestion do you really get that way? Do you know why that Psalm was written? Do you understand the historical context of that passage from 1 Kings?
In addition, it too is still geared for just a 5-10 minute study each day so again think about how much you’re studying the Bible with this. The Bible is a huge book. Tackling it in one year is a large task, especially if you’re going to truly understand it. Reading through the Bible is a wonderful idea, but to do it thoroughly, it will take longer than one year.
Read only the New Testament?
Some people disregard the “read through the Bible” plans because you must start with the Old Testament. The Old Testament can seem dry and dull, and many think not applicable since we are living in the “New Testament” days. But this is a flawed approach to biblical study.
When Paul said in 2 Timothy 3:16 “all Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,” the New Testament did not even exist yet in its collected and codified form. When he said “scriptures” he was referring to the Old Testament – all of it.
So we could read that as the “laws in Leviticus, the history in Genesis, the poetry of the Psalms, the cycles of the judges, the prophecies of the prophets” are God-breathed and useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness.
Jesus also thought highly of teaching from the Old Testament. In Luke 24, the resurrected Jesus was walking with two disciples on the road to Emmaus as they were pondering aloud the recent events in Jerusalem. In verses 25-27, it says, “Jesus said to them, ‘How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken!’ And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.”
When Jesus wanted these men to understand who He was and what all had just transpired about Him, Jesus started with the Old Testament. He started with Moses – not the story of Moses but the writings of Moses. Since Moses was the author of the first five books of the Bible, that means Jesus went back to Genesis, to the very beginning.
The One who brought the New Testament valued teaching from the Old Testament. Jesus said, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law...” (Matthew 5:17-18).
Jesus is reinforcing the accuracy of the Scriptures down to the smallest detail and the slightest punctuation all the way back to the Old Testament.
In addition, we understand the New Testament a whole lot better if we understand the Old Testament. Want to understand Hebrews? Go back and study Leviticus. Hebrews was written to Jews following Levitical law. Understanding the Law will help you understand the One who fulfilled the Law. So we cannot neglect the study of the Old Testament.
So what is the best way to do this? Stay tuned for Part 2...
When we come to the end of one year and stand on the precipice of the next, we all tend to take a moment to reflect on the previous year and to visualize the coming year. We go over what we think was “good” and “bad” from the past year and what we want to change for the next year. It is when we make resolutions and set new goals, typically focused on self-improvement. We plan to eat better, to exercise more, to forgive more and worry less. It may even include ways to improve on a hobby – become a better golfer, learn how to write better, learn a new craft, or just finish that home project.
All of those can be really wonderful things to focus on, but in the words of Charles Spurgeon, the most important thing we can do with our time in this new year is to learn about God. On January 7 in 1855, Spurgeon said, “It has been said that ‘the proper study of mankind is man.’ I believe it is equally true that the proper study of God’s elect is God; the proper study of a Christian is the Godhead. The highest science, the loftiest speculation, the mightiest philosophy, which can ever engage the attention of a child of God, is the name, the nature, the person, the work, the doings, and the existence of the great God whom he calls his Father.”
For the Christian, the most important thing for us to study is God. If you believe that this God created you and all things in this world, that He stepped out of the throne room of Heaven to come down to earth (as we just celebrated for Christmas) with the express purpose of dying on the cross for your sin, and you believe that our lives here are to be lived in gratitude and obedience to this God, then this God should be what you study most.
So what can we do in this new year of 2020 to fulfill our great call to study the Godhead?
1. Make time for the things that are important
We know we should spend more time with God because it is the most important thing. Yet we find ourselves so “busy” that we don’t even have time to pray, much less read the Bible. But as my dad has always said, “People make time for what they want to do.” And that is so true. When you really want to do something, you find the time to do it.
Granted, we all struggle with this. Being a homeschooling mom of two young boys, there are days where there are several things I “wanted” to do that I didn’t have time for. It happens sometimes. But on those days that are filled with school and projects and practices and obligations – yet laundry, dishes, and cooking still have to get done, you still carve out time for what is most important to you. You will make adjustments in your routine to squeeze them in.
Are you doing that to make time for studying about God?
More importantly, are you being intentional enough that your routine includes time to study about God?
There will be those days that are extra insanely busy that disrupt all of our routine, but those should be the exception, not the rule. So think about what is in your routine that may be occasionally disrupted. That everyday routine must include a portion of time to spend studying about the Godhead. After all, that should be our most important pursuit.
2. Learning about God is how you grow
There’s a children’s song that summarizes this point. “Read your Bible and pray every day and you’ll grow, grow, grow.” It states it so simply. Spend time with God and you’ll grow in Him. Don’t spend time with God and you won’t grow in Him.
We start to become more like the things that we spend the most time with. If you’re a parent, you see this effect on your children when you look at their friends. The kind of people they spend all their time with will be the kind of person they start to become (this is why it is SO important to choose your friends wisely – for children AND adults).
This can work to our detriment if we are spending time with people who don’t value God. That is the admonition given in Psalm 1: “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful; but his delight is in the law of the Lord.” It says that we would do well to not hang with people who make a mockery of what you believe about God. This might be a change you need to make for the new year as well.
On the other hand, if we are spending our time with God and learning about God, we grow to be more like Him. God desires for us to walk in fellowship with Him which means we must spend time with Him.
3. Pray that God gives you the desire to study His word
Not finding time to study about God is one area where many people struggle. However, I think the problem runs one step deeper. Sadly, I think for many people there is an apathy about learning about God.
People spend all kinds of timing reading articles about their favorite hobby, researching the best new car to buy, studying how to improve their backswing, mindlessly scrolling through social media feeds. But when it comes time to study God’s word, folks just don’t want to.
They find studying the Bible, learning sound doctrine, or researching apologetics to be a boring waste of time. It boggles my mind that people would devote so much time and effort to studying things that don’t matter in the scheme of eternity and then neglect the study of the very God who created you – and who created all things.
People are apathetic about learning about the God who gives the very breath that they take and the God whom they will stand before when He chooses to take that breath away. If you want to reject God and do you own thing, then that is your choice to reject Him. But to say that you believe God died on the cross for you yet you are apathetic about studying His word? That is illogical. That is why Spurgeon saw such importance in the believer devoting time to studying the Godhead. Every philosophy, science, and thought should be on learning about God, especially for those who call God Father.
If you fall into this category, begin praying that God will change your heart. Pray that God will give you the desire to value the most important things. Satan is good at giving us plenty of distractions to draw us away from knowing God. That is his very goal. Satan doesn’t need you to worship him, he just needs you to not be worshiping God. So he fills up our minds, our time, and our calendars with frivolous things to keep you from spending time with God. Pray that God will help you overcome those temptations and distractions.
Hebrews 12:1-2 says,
“Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
Pray with this scripture that God will help you to lay aside every weight and sin that is drawing you away from His presence. Then take practical steps to make that happen. Make a change in your routine to replace the time you spend on those distractions with time you spend with God.
-- Turn off the TV earlier in the evening to read the Bible.
-- Instead of spending 30 minutes on social media, read a book on theology and doctrine.
-- Get up 30 minutes earlier to read a blog on apologetics.
-- Replace your music in the car with a sermon podcast.
These are small ways to make changes to refocus your mind and your heart on the things of God. And you’ll find that the more you do this, the desires of your heart will change to desire those moments with God.
4. Studying the Godhead includes apologetics.
I know this last point may seem controversial inside the church. For some reason the word “apologetics” has a weird connotation among many pastors and church leaders. Because of that, many lay people in the congregation don’t even know the correct definition of this word. To many, they think “apologetics” means to debate and argue with your atheist opponent until you beat them into submission. This could not be further from the truth.
“Apoologetics” simply means to use logic and reasoning to defend a religious position. You can see the early church using apologetics throughout the book of Acts as they “reasoning” from the Scriptures to bring people to Jesus. Stephen, the first martyr, was described as “disputing” with the Freedmen and “they were not able to resist the wisdom and the Spirit by which he spoke” (Acts 6:10).
Therefore, part of the proper study of the Godhead is not just Bible and doctrine but the evidence that shows us that these things are true. This is necessary for not just strengthening our faith but for encouraging those far from faith to understand why we believe the things we believe.
It is just like Jesus did with John the Baptist in Matthew 11. John sent his disciples to ask again if Jesus was the long-awaited Messiah. Instead of telling John to “just have faith” or to pray more or to not question such things, Jesus pointed to the evidence. He said, “Go and tell John the things which you hear and see: The blind see and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear; the dead are raised up and the poor have the gospel preached to them.” He told John to look at the apologetics, the logic and reasoning for believing that He is the Son of God.
This is what the study of apologetics allows believers to do when unbelievers ask why we believe in a God whom we cannot see. We point to the design in the cell, the order in the cosmos, the Moral Law written on our hearts, the historical evidence of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. These are the things that increase our faith and give us confidence that Christianity is truth. Then tell them what God has done in your life personally. These are the things that show others we have faith as defined in Hebrews 11:1 – being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.
Make the right improvements for 2020.
As you make a list of goals and resolutions for the new year, remember the most important things is to know God more this year than you did last year. I pray that you make the goals and changes for 2020 that will not only have an eternal impact for you, but for those around you as well.