Children’s Catechism Lesson 4: Loving and Doing

Lesson Plan

  • Topic: Loving and Doing
  • Bible Passage: Matthew 5:14-16
  • Big Idea: We glorify God by loving him and doing what he commands.
  • Objectives: Children will understand what glorifying God means. Children will know that we show God that we love Him when we do what he wants us to do. Children will also realize why they should glorify God.
  • Materials Used: Candle, Flashlight, Paper, Scissors, Glue

HOOK

Ask your child to name someone they love. Younger children would usually answer Mom or Dad. 

When we love someone, we would like to do things to make them happy. There are many ways to say “I love you” to someone. Can you name a few things that would make the person you love happy? (obeying parents, listening to teacher’s instructions, giving gifts to friends, etc.)

When you obey your parents, you show them that you love them. When we obey God, we show God that we love Him. Question 4 of the catechism says that we glorify God by loving him and doing what he commands. While Question 5 teaches us to glorify God because he made us and takes care of us.

Q4: How can you glorify God?
A: By loving him and doing what he commands.

 

Q5: Why are you to glorify God?
A: Because he made me and takes care of me.

In the previous lesson, we learned that God made us for his own glory. For this lesson, we are going to learn how and why we are to glorify God.

BOOK

Light a candle or open a flashlight in a dark room. Try to snuff out the candle or cover the flashlight, and observe the reaction. Do it all over again. 

The Bible tells us that God’s children are like light. Listen to what Matthew 5:14-16 says:

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (ESV)

God made us the light of the world, and whenever we show love to God by following what He wants us to do, we glorify Him. But sometimes we don’t love and obey God. We do things that God doesn’t want us to do. We would say mean things to our siblings, open up the candy bar even though Mom and Dad told us not to, and even grab a toy from a friend without asking for permission. When we disobey God, this is what the Bible calls sin. Sin is not following God’s commands. Sin is disobeying God.

Sin keeps us from loving and obeying God. But God found a way to solve the sin problem. He sent His Son Jesus to come into the world to become like us. Jesus was hungry, and thirsty. He cried when a dear friend died. He also got tired. He was like us in every way, but He did not sin. Not only that, Jesus obeyed all of God’s commandments. So when we love and trust in Jesus, God will forgive us all our sins and teach us how to love and obey Him. The Holy Spirit helps us do that by changing our hearts so that instead of loving sin, we will love God. And when other people see that we love and obey God, they may want to know God too. After all, glorifying God is showing others how great and good He is. That’s how we should glorify God.

Our lesson also teaches us that we should glorify God because he made us and takes care of us. We know these things because the Bible shows how God is kind to us.

Carine Mackenzie in her small book called God is Kind lists down several ways God shows us how he takes care of us:

  • He gives us food every day. (Luke 11:3)
  • He give us water to drink. (Isaiah 44:3)
  • He give us sunny days to enjoy. (Jeremiah 31:35)
  • He gives us our family. (Psalm 68:6)
  • He has given us the Bible to help us. (Psalm 68:11)
  • He gives a beautiful life in heaven to those who love him. (Romans 6:23)

LOOK

  • How can you glorify God? By loving him and doing what he commands.
  • Why are you to glorify God? Because he loves me and takes care of me.
  • What does it mean to glorify God?
  • What does it meant to be the light of the world?
  • What are some more ways we can obey God?
  • What are some more ways that God takes care of us?

TOOK

You could choose to sing a song, share a story, or create a craft.

The song called “The Light of the World” sung by Steve Green is based on the Matthew passage.

You are the light of the world, you are the light of the world. Let your light shine before men, you are the light of the world.

Let your light so shine that they may see your good works and glorify your father in heaven.
Let your light shine before men, you are the light of the world

Another great song to teach is The Ten Commandments Song by Judy Roger:

Thou shalt have no other gods but Me;
Before no idol bow thy knee.
Take not the Name of God in vain;
Nor dare the Sabbath Day profane.
Give both thy parents honor due;
Take heed that thou no murder do.
Abstain from words and deeds unclean;
Nor steal, though thou art poor and lean.
And do not lie, but always say what is true,
And covet not the things that don’t belong to you!

You could also close with a story written by R.C. Sproul called The Lightlings in keeping with the light theme.

R.C. Sproul weaves an allegorical tale that captures the essence of the biblical story of redemption in a manner that will fascinate and delight children. A race of tiny beings known as lightlings are a picture of humanity as they pass through all the stages of the biblical drama – creation, fall, and redemption. In the end, children will understand why some people fear light more than darkness, but why they need never fear darkness again.

You can hear the whole story as read by R.C. Sproul himself over at Renewing Your Mind. You can also purchase the book over at the Westminster Bookstore. It is also available locally through the Katecheo webstore.

If your child is into crafts, you could also create a lantern using basic supplies you may already have at home. Please see full instructions over here.

Related Resources

One Big Story

This is Part 1 of a series on How to Choose Big Story Books for Little Hearts.

When I was a children’s worker in a Chinese church in Cebu, I started searching and collecting books for children that were helpful to my ministry. What I found though was a shortage of supply of good resources. So I had to either bring in materials from abroad or come up with my own materials. But not everyone is equipped to come up with Gospel-driven lessons. This is why I am always on the look out for good Christian resources, and I have made it part of my mission to provide quality resources for Christian parents and homeschooling families through Katecheo.

About ten years ago, these materials were very scarce. And only one or two were available locally. Sure, there are many children’s books in Christian bookstores. But I am not comfortable in recommending most of them. And why is that, you may wonder? They aren’t much different than other children’s books that teach good manners and right conduct—Joy Berry books actually teach the Golden Rule very well. If there isn’t anything that sets them apart from all the other books in the market, what makes them Christian in the first place? To put it simply, these books are usually devoid of the One Big Story that the Bible always talks about.

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One Big Story

What is this One Big Story that I keep referring to? A big term that theologians like to use to refer to this idea is Biblical Theology. And I always say, one of the greatest factors in the ability to choose the right books for instructing children in the faith boils down to having a good understanding of the Bible’s One Big Story. So I will take the time to summarize and explain plainly the four parts:

Creation

Before all things ever came to be, God is there. God created the word and everything in it for His own good pleasure and His own glory, including man. The first two chapters of Genesis talk about how God made the world good:

And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. (Genesis 1:31a, ESV)

Fall

God created man perfect and righteous, but man disobeyed God’s command.  Sin entered the world through our first parents, Adam and Eve (Genesis 3). Sin ruined God’s world. And ever since, man always rebelled against God and His Word, making themselves their own little gods. Man is lost without God. But God’s promised to send a Savior,

I will put enmity between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel. (Genesis 3:15, ESV)

Redemption

Even before the foundation of the world, God had already planned to save His people from their lostness. God became man. Through the perfect life, atoning death, and miraculous resurrection of Jesus, God’s own Son, He secured salvation for His people. Jesus broke the chains of sin.

She [Mary] will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins. (Matthew 1:21, ESV)

Jesus paid for man’s sin, and when we believe in what He has done in our stead, His perfect righteousness is accounted to us. When we and our children put our faith in Jesus, we are given new birth and new hearts to joyfully follow God’s commands.

Restoration

One day, God will restore all things to His original design—perfect and sinless. God is making all things new. 

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” (Revelation 21:3-5a, ESV)

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Christ the Center

All Scripture is about God’s redemptive plan. And what binds all of the four parts of the One Big Story together is that it centers around the person and work of Jesus. All stories either point to or look back to Jesus and what He has done. In fact, whenever we miss the important fact that Jesus is the main character of all the stories in the Bible, we miss the One Big Story. Whenever we forget about the One Big Story, we will most likely resort to moralistic lessons that aren’t much different than all the other stories out there. What is more, whenever we forget the One Big Story, we will altogether miss what or who the Bible is really all about, Jesus.

Now, some people think the Bible is a book of rules, telling you what you should and shouldn’t do. The Bible certainly does have some rules in it. They show you how life works best. But the Bible isn’t mainly about you and what you should be doin. It’s about God and what he has done. Other people think the Bible is a book of heroes, showing you people you should copy. The Bible does have some heroes in it, but (as you’ll soon find out) most of te people in the Bible aren’t heroes at all. They make some big mistakes(sometimes on purpose), they get afraid and run away. At times, they’re downright mean. No, the Bible isn’t a book of rules, or a book of heroes. The Bible is most of all a Story. It’s an adventure story about a young Hero who comes from a far country to win back his lost treasure. It’s a love story about a brave Prince who leaves his palace, his throne–everything–to rescues the ones he loves. It’s like the most wonderful of fairy tales that has come true in real life! You see, the best thing about this Story is–it’s true. There are lots of stories in the Bible, but all the stories are telling on Big Story. The Story of how God loves his children and comes to rescue them. It takes the whole Bible to tell this Story. And at the center of the Story, there is a baby. Every story in the Bible whispers his name. He is like the missing piece in the puzzle–the piece that makes all the other pieces fit together, and suddenly you can see a beautiful picture. (Sally Lloyd-Jones, Jesus Story Book Bible)

We want our efforts to teach, train, and disciple our children to not go to waste. And whenever we offer them alternatives and half-truths—no matter how flashy and attractive they seem to be—without addressing their heart’s truest and direst need, we would have failed our primary role of passing on the faith to the next generation.

The gospel is the ultimate story that shows victory coming out of defeat, strength coming out of weakness, life coming out of death, rescue from abandonment. And because it is a true story, it gives us hope because we know life is really like that. (Timothy Keller)

Never assume the Gospel. Never tire of telling your children the One Big Story. Never tire of telling them about the Gospel, that Jesus lived and died for us and for our salvation in order to bring us to God. Our children need to hear it daily, and so do we.

 

Part 2 coming soon. 

How to Prepare Children For Marriage or Singlehood

The month of February has caused a lot of people to think about their own love lives or the lack of it. For some, it is a celebration of mutual love. For others, it is a constant reminder of their loneliness and lack of romantic excitement.

I have been reading through Josh Mulvilhill’s Preparing Children for Marriage: How to Teach God’s Good Design for Marriage, Sex, Purity, and Dating. And God has been using this book to provide new insights on how to raise covenant children in the area of marriage, etc. It also made me realize that while it is important to teach children about the possibility of marriage, it is equally important to train them for the possibility of singleness as well. Of course, I would want my children to get married someday. Even my five-year old told me she wanted to get married someday. But marriage is God’s gift to some people, and it is the ultimate picture of Jesus and His Bride, the church.

Marriage between a man and a woman is meant to reflect the relationship between Christ and the church. It is a living example of Jesus’ love for the church and of the church’s submission to Jesus. How Jesus loved the church is how a husband is to love his wife. How the church follows Jesus is how a wife is to follow her husband. Every marriage is a picture that tells the world about Jesus’ sacrificial love for us. Marriage points to a greater reality—it’s a living, breathing reminder of Calvary.

God never promised anywhere in the Bible that all Christians will find a life partner. Anyone teaching that purports this claim should be rejected. It is not only un-Biblical, it is utterly dangerous to be dispensing unrealistic hopes.

People want to be loved and desired by others. But we are bound to be disappointed when we make marriage the be-all and end-all of things. Instead of longing for marriage and avoiding singlehood, we should be teaching our children to be satisfied in Jesus. Because anything that replaces Christ as the supreme center in our life is an idol. If love becomes our idol, a difficult marriage can devastate us. If  acceptance becomes our idol, the prospect of singlehood can make us feel rejected. I love how Dr. Mulvihill’s counsel for singlehood in his book,

If God calls your child to a life of singleness, your child should embrace that life with contentment. As parents, we ought to avoid expressing disappointment if this is the path that God has for our children. Instead, let us support our children in this self-sacrificing endeavor.

That is a good way to put things into perspective, isn’t it? But the bottomline is this, We should be teaching our children to find their ultimate joy and supreme satisfaction in Jesus. 

[T]he kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it. (Matthew 13:45-46)

If Jesus is our joy, whether we marry or remain single for the rest of our lives, we will find true contentment. I certainly hope my children  grow up to be contented Christians as their understanding of the Gospel grows each day. Even I long for the very same thing.

In a word a contented Christian, being sweetly captivated under the authority of the Word, desires to be wholly at God’s disposal and is willing to live in that sphere and climate where God has set him. (Thomas Watson)

Exploring the Big Bad Wolf Book Sale in Manila

The fourth day of The Classical Preschool focuses on Exploration. We decided to take a break from our regular schedule, and explore the book fair called the Big Bad Wolf (BBW).

BBW has been known to hold insanely discounted book sales in other parts of Asia. So upon hearing that they were coming to Manila for the first time, I was ecstatic. We didn’t make it for preview day even though I won tickets. So we braved the long drive from the North, and headed for the World Trade Center in Pasay City. The fair is open 24 hours a day until the 25th of February.

Go for Children’s Reference Books

A big section of the book sale featured children’s books. There was a vast selection of picture books, reference books, and activity books. You could easily get lost in the aisles. We got there almost 10:30 AM on opening day, and there were a lot of people already.

The Young Adult (YA) section was the most crowded part of the fair. I didn’t even bother checking out the titles. My husband and I brought our preschooler and toddler, so it wasn’t exactly a smooth shopping day—it never is, I suppose. Big crowds aren’t usually fun for small children.

I spotted a lot of beautiful picture books. But there were also a lot of twaddle in the mix. I tried to prevent myself from looking too much so I won’t get tempted to add them to my cart. I went to BBW for the Reference Books since we already have enough picture books that could last us a few years. I also tried to apply what I wrote about choosing books for children.

Book Prices

To be honest, I didn’t have the time and energy to look around the whole place. I centered around the children’s books area. To give you a rough estimate, here are the price range for the different children’s books:

  • Activity Books: PHP100 to PHP 150
  • Picture/Board Books: PHP160 to PHP350
  • Reference Books: PHP290 to PHP 450
  • Book Sets: PHP1300 and up

I thought I could score cheap book sets, but I didn’t. They weren’t as affordable as I would have liked. For example, the Mr. Men Collection and Little Miss Collection were priced at PHP 4850 and P3900, respectively. A Classic Case of Dr. Seuss with 20 books was priced at P3900. The more affordable option is The Peter Rabbit Library at P1350. Even so, you could get the preloved editions for way less. Another good find though is The Crayon Box Collection big lap book set priced at P780. Again, cheaper options can be found at second-hand book shops. My biggest target was the Thomas The Tank Engine Classic Library. But it was priced at P5800, so I had to let it go.

Our Big Bad Wolf Book Haul

I ended up with ten books, which are mostly Reference titles.

If I could dig in a little more, I would. But it isn’t advisable when you have small children with you. My top three finds are definitely the following: Usborne Big Picture Atlas (Php 370), Where Did They Go? (PHP 270-290) and The Family Storybook Treasury with CD (P275). I could hoard these books, and hand them out as gifts. They are surely value for money, except for the Spotting Book which is what I would call an aesthetic piece.

5 Tips for Parents

Shop Alone

It is certainly best to shop alone, if that is possible for you. Young children could easily get bored when you’re on the hunt for good finds.

Have a List

The book display and the sheer size of the fair can get overwhelming. Having a list of books you want to look out for is particularly helpful so you won’t get lost in your purchases. You could easily spend thousands of pesos in a book sale like the Big Bad Wolf.

Set a Budget

Be sure to set a budget. But don’t be afraid to explore a few investment pieces if you can afford it.

Take your Time

I missed a few good books upon seeing other people’s purchases. Having the luxury of time could only be possible if you are shopping alone, or have someone with you who could watch the kids for a while. It could take more than a day to see each and every title if you take your time. But I’m sure it will be worth it.

Bring a Reusable Bag

They do provide plastic bags in the venue. But help lessen waste by bringing your own reusable bags. The BBW organizers did say to bring luggage bags for your purchases.

How to Choose Books for Children

Time and again, I get asked for children’s book recommendations. I am a self-confessed bibliophile, and I have maintained a modest collection of children’s books at home. You should know that I am not an expert. But I am a mother who wants to share the love of great literature to my own children, and I’d like to share a few things I’ve learned over the years in choosing books that would help build a home library. I say this because the Philippines does not have a lot of public libraries. This is why having your own library is essential in raising readers in our country. A decent collection could greatly benefit your kids or perhaps even your grandkids in the future, Lord willing.

Start Early

I don’t mean start hunting for books early in the morning, although that is good, too. What I mean is to begin building your collection early on, as long as your budget allows it. I started collecting children’s books when I was still single. Although I was unsure if I was going to have kids or even get married, I was placed in children’s ministry when I was doing practicum while I was in seminary. From there, my love for teaching and training children reflected my collection of worthy resources that would help address children’s needs. For more practical reasons, you may begin building your collection while your baby is still in the womb. Reading to children in utero helps mothers bond with their babies, aside from other developmental benefits.

Stick with the Classics

My biggest tip if you have a limited budget is to pick the classics—classic books or classic authors. There is a reason why they are bestsellers. Their style and content has lasted from one generation to another, making them family favorites for years. Another tip is to look out for the Giesel Award, Caldecott Medal and Newbery Award badges when hunting for good books. Any of these awards boost the credibility of a children’s book. Find out more about these badges over here. The same goes for all-time favorite children’s book authors like Dr. Seuss (The Cat in a Hat or Oh, The Places You’ll Go), Eric Carle (Brown Bear, Brown Bear or The Little Hungry Caterpillar), Margaret Wise Brown (Goodnight Moon or The Big Red Barn), and others. Their books come up often in recommended lists (see below). You might want to stick to these classic authors if you’re building a small collection.

Stay Away from Twaddle

Choosing classics does not mean you should not buy new ones. But try to stay away from twaddle as much as possible. You can recognize twaddle when you have been surrounded by good books. Twaddle books are badly written second-rate literature that underestimate children’s intelligence, and are often book versions of their TV or movie counterparts. You can read more about what twaddle is over here. Not everyone will agree, but educator Charlotte Mason was adamant about not tolerating twaddle books when reading to children,

They must grow up upon the best. There must never be a period in their lives when they are allowed to read or listen to twaddle or reading-made-easy. There is never a time when they are unequal to worthy thoughts, well put; inspiring tales, well told.

Study Book Lists

Familiarize yourself with recommended book lists. I was surprised how little some people know about good resources that would point them in a right direction. A quick search in Google or Pinterest would get you there. But knowing the difference between quality books and twaddle take a lot of practice, and reputable book lists help you with that. See The Classical Reader for a compendium of age-appropriate book recommendations by different classical educators. You could also try homeschooling resources like Five In A Row or literature-heavy curricula like Sonlight or Veritas Press.

Scavenge Second-Hand Bookstores

If you have a mental list of good books to find, going to second-hand bookshops like BookSale or Biblio would be so much easier since you already know what you’re looking for. I could spend all day scavenging for good finds. But if you’re like me—a hands-on mama with two active kids—you know it’s next to impossible. So I resort to online shopping. Sure, you pay a little more than the brick and mortar shops, but it saves you a ton of time and energy. I will provide a list of my recommended online stores some other time. Also, watch out for book fairs like the Big Bad Wolf Book Fair this month, and the Manila International Book Fair every September for books sold at bargain prices.

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So far, these are the top five basic things you should look out for when choosing books for children. Selecting Christian books deserve a full post, and will be reserved for another time. My recommended book lists are also in the pipeline.

Please let me know in the comments section if this post has been of help to you and your family. Feel free to comment if you have anything to add as well.