Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Catechism for kids: what, why, and how

2 Timothy 3:16-17
All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be equipped for every good work.

What is a "catechism"?  Isn't that something that Catholics do?
Throughout church history, churches and all denominations have expressed their biblical beliefs on important doctrines by way of creeds and confessions.  A creed (from the Latin credo, "I believe") represents a statement of beliefs, while a catechism (also a Latin word, meaning "to teach") is an instructional tool often in the form of questions and answers to help people (in our case, children) systematically understand major Bible doctrines.

Why do catechism with my small child?
Confessions, creeds, and catechisms are not meant to help replace Scripture, but to help understnd it.  The use of a catechism is a powerful tool to help people understand what they believe, and why.  The question and answer format allows a parent or teacher to work directly with a child in a systematic way.  In our case, much of the catechism we use comes from former Baptist catechisms, but the language has been edited and reduced so that our children can easily understand it.

Click here to see 3 year old Tucker practicing his catechism.

How do we do catechism with our family?
A few years ago, we developed an organizational system to help us do catechism together, as a result of Lana telling us that she "wants to know the answers to questions her friends might have when she tells them about Jesus."  This was a huge call for us to be diligent about working through these truths with her.  Here's a picture of the system we created:
I split our questions and answers up into categories - those are on the yellow tabs.  
(More on the green tabs later.)
The categories we use are as follows:
the Fall
Each category has 10-15 questions in it.  We work on one category at a time until we have it mastered, and then move on to the next.  
Here is an example of one of the cards inside:
Each category's cards are written in a different color, and they are all numbered.  I did this just in case some wild child decides to dump them out or mix them up or something.  :)
It's important to keep them in the correct order because they build on each other.

As you can see, the question is on the front of the card.  The answer is on the back of the card, along with the accompanying Scripture reference.

Lana asked for them to be in a front and back format like this so that she could work on them by herself if she wanted to.  :)

We took the wording for our catechism directly from Songs for Saplings.  These cd's have a children's catechism set to music, and we all agree that music is just an easy way for kids to memorize and remember things.  We decided to use their specific wording to make it easy for us to learn and review in the car - we definitely didn't want to sing one and try to teach them to say another.  Way too confusing!

Here are the questions and answers we are doing with our family:
1.  Who made God?  Nobody did.  (Psalm 90:2)
2.  Has God ever had a beginning?  No, God has always been.  (Revelation 4:8)
3.  Will God ever die?  No, God lives forever.  (Psalm 102:24, 27 and Jeremiah 10:10)
4.  Are there more gods than one?  No, there is only one true God.  (Isaiah 45:5)
5.  In how many persons does this one God exist?    God exists in 3 persons.  (2 Cor. 13:14)
6.  Who are the 3 persons of God?  the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit  (Matthew 28:19)
7.  Where is God?  Everywhere  (Psalm 139:7-8)
8.  Can you see God?  No, but He can always see me; or No, God is a spirit and doesn't have a body like man.  (Jeremiah 23:23-24)
9.  Does God know all things?  Yes, nothing can be hidden from God.  (Proverbs 15:3 and Job 34:21)
10.  Can God do all things?  Yes, God can do all His holy will.  (Matthew 19:26)

1.  Who made you?  God made me.  (Genesis 1:27)
2.  Why did God make you?  To glorify and enjoy Him forever.  (1 Corinthians 10:31)
3.  What else did God make?  all things  (Genesis 1)
4.  Why did God make all things?  for His own glory (Romans 11:36)
5.  How can you glorify God?  By loving Him and doing what He commands  (Micah 6:8)
6.  Why should you glorify God?  Because He made me and takes care of me.  (Psalm 117)
7.  Who were our first parents?  Adam and Eve (Genesis 2 and 3)
8.  How did God make Adam & Eve?  God made the body of Adam from the dust of the ground, and formed Eve from the body of Adam.  (Genesis 2:7)
9.  What did God give Adam and Eve besides bodies?  spirits that could never die (Genesis 2:7)
10.  Do you have a spirit as well as a body?  yes, I have a spirit that can never die.  (Ecclesiastes 12:7)
11.  What were Adam & Eve like when God made them?  Holy and happy (Genesis 2:25)

the Fall
1.  What is a covenant?  An agreement that God makes with us in which He guarantees to keep His promise.  (Psalm 105:7-8)
2.  What was Adam's part in the covenant in order to stay in the garden of Eden?  Adam was required to obey God perfectly.  (Genesis 2:15-17)
3.  Did Adam obey God?  No, Adam chose to disobey God.  (Genesis 3:6)
4.  How did God punish Adam's disobedience?  Adam's punishment was death and separation from God.  (Genesis 3:17-24)
5.  What is sin?  Sin is disobedience against God's perfect law, by doing what he forbids or not doing what He commands.  (Psalm 25:6-7)
6.  Who is Satan?  Satan is an evil spirit who is the enemy of God and all Christians.  (1 Peter 5:8)
7.  Who is stronger: God or satan?  God is much stronger.  (1 John 4:4)
8.  What was the sin of our first parents?  eating the forbidden fruit (Genesis 3:6)
9.  Who tempted Adam & Eve to sin?  Satan (Genesis 3)
10.  What happened to Adam & Eve when they sinned?  Instead of being holy and happy, they became sinful and miserable.  (Genesis 3:22)
11.  What did Adam's sin do to you?  It made me guilty and sinful.  (Romans 5:12)
12.  What does every sin deserve?  the wrath and curse of God.  (Psalm 89:30-32)
13.  How sinful are you by nature?  I am sinful in every part of my being.  (Romans 3:11-12)

1.  Can you go to heaven with a sinful nature?  No, my heart must be changed.  (John 3:16)
2.  What is this change of heart called?  Regeneration  (Ezekiel 36:26-27)
3.  Who can change a sinner's heart?  only God  (Acts 4:12)
4.  Who is the redeemer of God's elect?  only the Lord Jesus Christ (John 14:6)
5.  How is your heart changed?  by the Holy Spirit because of the grace of God through the work of Christ.  (Titus 3:4-6)
6.  What is grace?  God's kindness to us when we deserve punishment.  (Deuteronomy 7:6)
7.  What work did Christ do to save you?  Christ perfectly kept the law of God and suffered the punishment due for my sins.  (2 Corinthians 5:21)
8.  Can anyone be saved by his own works?  No.  It is by grace we are saved through faith.  It is a gift of God.  (Ephesians 2:8)
9.  What do we gain from the work of Christ?  God regenerates, justifies, and sanctifies those who believe in Christ.  (1 Corinthians 6:11)
10.  What is justification?  God forgiving all my sins and declaring me to be righteous.  (Romans 8:1)
11.  How were you justified?  by faith in the work of Christ  (Galatians 2:16)
12.  What is sanctification?  God making me holy in heart and behavior.  (1 Thesselonians 5:23)
13.  What are the 2 parts of sanctification?  dying to sin and living to righteousness (Galatians 2:20)
14.  Who will be saved?  whoever repents and believes on the Lord Jesus Christ (Isaiah 55:7)
15.  What does it mean to repent?  To repent is to be sorry for sin and to hate it and forsake it because it displeases God.  (2 Chronicles 7:14)
16.  What is faith in Christ?  trusting in Him alone for salvation  (Philippains 3:9)

1.  Can you repent and believe in Christ?  Not on my own power  (1 Corinthians 2:9)
2.  What is meant by the atonement?  We are saved from the wrath of God through His Son.  (Romans 5:8-11)
3.  How were people saved before the coming of Christ?  by believing in a Savior to come (Hebrews 11)
4.  How did people show their faith before the coming of Christ?  By offering the sacrifices that God commanded, which were a picture of Christ, the Lamb of God who would die.  (John 1:29, Hebrews 11:4)
5.  How did Christ, being the Son of God, become man?  He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit with a real body and soul in the womb of the virgin Mary.  (Luke 1:30-33)
6.  Did Jesus ever sin?  No, Jesus lived a sinless life.  (1 Peter 2:22)
7.  What kind of death did Christ die?  a painful, shameful death on the cross (Philippians 2)
8.  What are the offices Christ fulfilled as the promised Messiah?  prophet, priest, and king (Isaiah 9:6)
9.  How is Christ your prophet?  He teaches me the will of God.  (John 15:15)
10.  How is Christ your priest?  He washed away my every sin and He prays for me.  (Hebrews 7:25)
11.  How is Christ your king? He rules over me, defends me, and will establish His kingdom on earth.  (Isaiah 33:22)
12.  Can you repent and believe in Christ?  I can only believe in Christ with the help of the Holy Spirit.  (1 Corinthians 2)

Obviously those questions are just the basics, and are presented in very simple terms, so that my 8 year old and 5 year old can memorize them.  But WOW - don't they just shout the gospel?!  I love practicing  catechism with them - it's so good for my own heart to have these truths on the tip of my tongue.  If you have older children and want something a little more in depth, please consider this resource for older children and young adults.

Ok, now you remember in the first picture, there were green tabs in addition to the yellow ones:
This is a Scripture memory section, divided into review categories.  There's nothing that makes me sadder than our family memorizing a verse or passage of Scripture together, and then my kids "losing it" for lack of review.  My friend Amanda shared her review system with me, and I love it.
Some of the Scripture that we memorize will tie to the catechism that we're learning, and some of might not.  This is not something that we are working today - I think I'm going to kick it off in January.

In our Scripture memory category, we have 3 sections: Daily Review, Weekly Review, and Monthly Review.  
In the Daily Review category, we have a card with a current verse or passage that we are working together as a family to memorize.  We review this card daily.  
Once we have mastered a passage, we move it to the Weekly Review section.  We'll take time once a week to review all cards in this section.  
After we have reviewed a passage weekly for 4-6 weeks, we'll move it to the Monthly Review section.  Everything in that section will be reviewed once a month.  This section will obviously grow as we hide more and more Scripture in our heart.  I am looking forward to doing this in 2015!  This is an area our family needs to grow in, for sure.

Friday, October 17, 2014

A peek inside her 3rd grade classroom:

Lana's beloved teacher Mrs. Celis sent me these precious pictures she snapped of my girl in action this week.

Just finished presenting their research project on the Gateway Arch:

working on her ipad

I seriously wish I could just follow her around all day and watch her.
She melts me.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Lana's first swim meet!

Lana has been on the swim team for a couple of months now.
Today was her first swim meet.

We arrived at the meet in Mobile about an hour early so that she could watch what was going on for a while.  Here's a peek into her personality (and why we knew to come early): 
as Dan & I were remarking in the front seat of the car that we had made such good time that we would be about an hour early, she pipes up from the back:
"That's ok!  I would rather be 2 hours early than 5 minutes late!"

Lana with her coach:
Coach Alex has been swimming since she was Lana's age,
all the way through college on a scholarship.
She graduated last year, and is now coaching our swim team.

She spent a few minutes with us before warm-ups, and said things like:
"Lana trains hard," and 
"She's swimming really fast to be so new - faster than some who have been with us for a couple of years.  She's got natural talent."

Headed into the pool for warm-ups:

Last minute reminders and pep talk from Coach.
I love how intently Lana is listening to her - she always does.

This sport suits Lana's personality really well.
It's a team sport, so there's that camaraderie there,
but when you get in the pool and race, it's you.
When you train, it's you.
The person you're competing against is yourself, first and foremost.
It's a really great balance for her.

Then it was time to swim!
That's her on the block right in the middle, 
getting ready to swim freestyle.

She swam 2 events, the freestyle (in lane 5, the next to farthest) and the backstroke (in lane 2).
She wasn't the fastest by any stretch but she swam hard and remembered what she'd been taught and I swear she was the bravest little girl I've ever seen, diving off that block with total composure.  I was in tears I was so proud of her.

First swim meet was officially a success!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Round here.

Every once in a while, we will hear Tucker singing songs that he's making up; they're prayers, really.  We tell him that he's like King David when he does that - singing his praises to God.  Here's a quick video of him (pre-haircut) singing a mealtime prayer: Tucker singing his prayers

Lana started swim lessons a couple of months ago, and the swim team coach immediately pulled her up to swim team.  She practices an hour a day, 3 days per week, and it is an intense hour - she never stops swimming.  The first couple of weeks, her arms and legs were very sore.  This weekend is her first swim meet, and I don't know when I've seen her as excited and nervous about something.  She's swimming 2 events.

Lately, Tucker's been asking to sleep with only his boxers on.  He looks so much like a big boy when I peek in on him sleeping like that!  Thank goodness he still insists on his closet doors being closed - it reminds me he's still by little buddy.

The kids and I were walking across a parking lot headed into a store. Lana, deep in thought, finally pipes up: "hey, mommy?" "Yes?" "Were roads paved when you were a kid?"

Tucker had water in his ears after a day at the waterpark: "It feels like there are spiders in my ears."  A few days ago when he had congestion/cough: "There's something sticky in my throat, and when I try to cough it just bounces on the sticky and comes back up."  I love how he describes things.

We were at the beach one afternoon with friends we made through school, and Lana & her friend were playing with hermit crabs.  There were dozens of them crawling all over.
Lana's friend laughed and said "Look, those hermit crabs are making out!"
Her mom, knowing how innocent Lana is, quickly shushed her, and the girls moved on to playing something else.
On the way home, I asked Lana what she thought her friend meant when she said that.
Lana said, "She was talking about them crawling up and making it out of the bucket."

Tucker has also been taking swim lessons for a few months.  After a rocky start, he's very slowly making progress.  He will now jump off the side tentatively, although he won't let his head go under, and he will (frantically) swim from his teacher back to the edge.  It's big progress for my body who wouldn't even step foot into a pool (never mind the ocean) at the beginning of this past summer without clinging to me like a monkey.  I think we will just let him continue lessons through the winter so he's ready for next summer. 

Lana was chosen to be on the Battle of the Books for third grade!  She has dreamed about this for years.  I had never heard of it before, but it's kind of a big deal.  Students all over our county read selected books from a librarian-chosen list.  They spend all year long reading, studying, quizzing, and practicing.  At the end of the year, they come together and have a competition where they answer questions about what they've read.  The teams are usually composed of 4th and 5th graders, so she was beyond excited to be chosen for one of the very coveted 3rd grade spots on the team.

One of the areas where we have been intentionally parenting Tucker's heart for several years now is him being a hard worker and a team player.  Usually, it goes like this: the entire family working in the yard, Tucker taking a break for water.  Then asking everyone else if they would like water.  :)  We have been talking and praying with him about being a servant leader, and giving him opportunities to really apply what we're teaching him, and we are seeing fruit, praise God!!  He is asking us "How can I help?" instead of looking for ways to get out of work; he is working hard until a job is done, and he's not complaining while working.

Lana is still the earliest bird in the house.  When my alarm clock went off at 6:30 this morning, she was already awake in her room reading.

I walked in Tucker's room during quiet time, and he said "MOM!  You made my booty jump!"  He meant I scared him!  Ha!