Thursday, May 7, 2009

catching onto catechisms

Matt really enjoys listening to a podcast called the White Horse Inn (many thanks CS for the recommendation a while ago.) It's a radio broadcast and now an iTunes (free) podcast.  I was glad to listen in to one episode with my man this week.  We listened to April 26 th and found it an excellent piece... needful and worthy for Christians to THINK on for a while.

The brilliant guys that gather there were discussing the value of catechisms- the dire need in the church (and Christian homes) today to educate and train especially our young people in the faith. Too many churches and Christians settle for knowing "Jesus loves you" and not hardly knowing a thing deeper or wider than that. And sadly, way too many Christians are fully content and pleased to know just that little about "what and why they believe."

A solution? The guys all agreed that catechising our kids (teaching them to know and understand and even memorize a catechism) is a needful thing for Christians.

What is a catechism? As far as I understand, it's a set of questions and answers used to teach material that is worth knowing well.  The Christian church has some beautifully rich, deep, historically trusted catechisms available for us (Westminster, and Heidelberg being the top two that I know of.)  There's so much value in it.  Instead of asking a 4 year old or an adult who's just 4 weeks into believing in Christ "what do you think about _____?" or "what does this mean to you?" a catechism teaches by providing the question and the answer. Yes, we value teaching people to think for themselves.... but first let's model teaching them to think well, to understand what is the truth and then to explain it as their own brains want to describe it as a later step.

The thought of teaching kids a catechism strikes many of us as too boring.... not life-giving. If you're arguing this by the time you've read this far, please listen to the podcast and let me know your response. They compared it to language learning: a painful (we know this so well!) but needful and positively worthwhile step to accessing a whole new world of information and understanding (or people.)

At our house, we've been working on a little catechism for a while now because we haven't been able to find any questions and answers that really seemed appropriate for tiny little ones. Most all the other stuff I've found (I'm sure there's excellent material that I haven't seen- please leave a comment if you can fill me in!!) seems more appropriate for maybe 4 or 5 years old on up. So, we've developed a super simple little catechism for our new 3 year old and our 1.5 year old. We plan to move on towards a more legitimate, and far more historically-rooted catechism around kindergarten years, (we'll probably go for the Westminster Shorter Catechism,) but for now, we want something of a starting place for these little ones!

Marian (20 months) is also working on some verses already. For example, Psalm 119:35: I say, "Direct me in the path of your commands, for there" and she joins in, "I yind de-yight." (translation: "I find delight.") It's so sweet to hear her say-shout it!

We are really having fun getting to recite some scriptures and catechism questions together while we play or snack or the kids take a bath...  Here are some verses and eleven super simple "catechism prep" questions we're going over whenever we can:

“Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker; for He is our God and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under his care.” Psalm 95:6-7
The Lord says, “It is I who made the earth and created mankind upon it.”
Isaiah 45:11-12
Who made you?(1) God!

“…whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” I Corinthians 10:31
“Rejoice in the Lord, you who are righteous, and praise His holy name.” Psalm 97:12
Why did God make you?(2) For His glory!

God is the “Blessed controller of all things, the King over all kings and the Master over all masters.” 1 Timothy 6:15 (Phillips)
“For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” Psalm 103:11-12
“We love because he first loved us.” 1 John 4:19
What kind of God is He?(3) He is holy, sovereign, and loving.

“Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.” 1 Tim. 1:15
“if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, [God’s] Son, purifies us from all sin.” I John 1: 7
John saw Jesus… and said “Look, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” John 1:29
Who is Jesus?(4) God's Son, Our Savior, who came to die for us

“at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly… God demonstrates his own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5: 6,8
“…the blood of Christ… will cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!” from Hebrews 9:14
"sin is lawlessness"  I John 3:4
Why did he die?(5) He died to forgive our sins.  Apart from his grace, we are dead in our sins.
What is sin? (6) Dishonoring God, disobeying His word

Jesus said, “If you love me, you will obey what I command.” John 14:15
“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. ‘Honor your father and mother’- which is the first commandment with a promise- “that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.” Ephesians 6:1-3
“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” Philippians 4:4
How can you glorify God? (7) Honor God and others with a joyful spirit
How are you to obey?(8)
Immediately, willingly, and completely

“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” Genesis 1:27
“…your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit… You are not your own; you were bought with a price. Therefore honor God with your body.” I Corinthians 6:19-20
How did God make you special?(9) He made me in his image, to be like him, and he put his Holy Spirit in me.

“Your statutes are forever right; give me understanding that I may live.” Psalm 119:144
“For the Word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword…” Hebrew 4:12
The word of God is the sword of the Spirit. From Ephesians 6:17
“To all perfection I see a limit; but your commands are boundless. Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long.” Psalm 119:96-97
“I will walk in freedom, for I have devoted myself to your commandments.” Psalm 119:45 (NLT)
“Whoever obeys the law is joyful.” Proverbs 29:18 (NLT)
Why is the Bible the best book?(10) Because it's God's Word, it's true!

“For to me, to live is Christ, to die is gain.” Philippians 1:21
Who is your Protector in life and your Promise- your sure hope- in death?(11)
“The LORD is my light and my salvation- whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life- of whom shall I be afraid?” Psalm 27:1

May the Lord write His living Word on our hearts 
for our great joy in Him and His great glory!

1 comment:

  1. Hi Matt & Jillian,
    I actually have a book for our kids. It might be a little over Marian's head (but Mazie listens in and has her verses that she has memorized). Here is the Amazon link....