From where Does my Help Come?

I lift up my eyes to the hills.

From where does my help come? 

Psalm 121:1

There are several theories as to why the Psalmist would lift his eyes to the hills at the beginning of this prayer. The hills are high, drawing his gaze heavenward. The hills are beautiful, reminding him of the glory of God and his creative power. The hills represent God’s provision and faithfulness in bringing the Israelites to the promised land. The hills around Jerusalem provide fortification, helping the psalmist feel secure in the defensibility and preservation of the holy city. 

But the theory I find most compelling is… the hills are the “high places” where pagan altars were built and idols were worshiped. 


Let me rewind a bit. Psalm 121 is one in a set of prayers known as the Song of Ascents (Psalm 120-134). Scholars believe these psalms were sung by pilgrims making their way into Jerusalem for the high holy feasts. The journey into the city was steep, rocky, hot, slow-going, and often dangerous – not an easy trek for people who lacked an REI or even just sturdy hiking boots. 

It would be tempting to wonder if the pilgrimage was worth it; tempting to look to something else, something nearer, for their comfort and provision; tempting to worship something a bit more convenient. How very tempting then to lift their eyes to the false gods in the hills and wonder, “From where does my help come?”

Idol worship is as much a temptation for the modern Christian as it was for the ancient Israelite. We may not have pagan altars in the hills, but we certainly have them in our hearts. If you want to know what the idols are in your own life, all you need to do is complete this sentence:

I lift my eyes to the ______. 

Husband’s return from work?

More money?

Clean house?

Kid-free beach trip? 

Glass of wine? 


Eight hours of sleep every night?  

It is so tempting, and so easy, to look to something nearer, temporary, convenient, and false to act as a band-aid to our daily stressors and challenges. Luckily, the Psalmist gives us the antidote to this poisonous thinking. He asks and answers, “From where does my help come?” 

My help comes from the Lord,

who made heaven and earth.

In just two verses, the psalmist manages to move us from temptation and doubt to right relationship with the Lord – affirming God’s personal care (“myhelp”) and God’s omnipotence. When the circumstances of our journeys overwhelm us and the thought of quitting God’s call for something easier appeals to us, we must remember that our identity is first and foremost dependent on God. We have nothing and are nothing except that the creator of all things created and loved us.

 Skipping to the final two verses: 

The Lord will keep you from all evil;
    he will keep your life.
The Lord will keep
    your going out and your coming in
    from this time forth and forevermore. 

(Psalm 121:7-8)

After opening with the emotionally driven temptation to seek out false gods, the Psalmist closes with a statement of fact: our God is utterly reliable. He is one who keeps you. He keeps you in your moments of doubt. He keeps you even when you lose your temper with your children. He keeps you when you learn your husband is staying late at the office and you need to cancel plans with friends and put your kids to bed alone. Again. He keeps you when your car fails and your basement leaks and your computer refuses to turn on. He keeps you even in moments when you lift your eyes to the hills (or the ice cream, or the shopping, or the…) and wonder from where your help comes.  

In our daily lives, it is inevitable that we will look to something other than God and wonder if that thing will bring the satisfaction and the rest we desire. But as St. Augustine (a man who self-admittedly knew quite a lot about idolatry) famously prayed in his Confessions,“You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.” In moments of temptation, follow the wise example of the Psalmist and reorient yourself to the Lord – affirming who He is and who you are because of Him. You are one who is kept by the creator of the universe. 

No hills necessary.

Danielle Hitchen is the founder of Catechesis Books and the author of the Baby Believer board books – a set of concept books designed to introduce very young children to the core tenets of the Christian faith. She desires to create beautiful books to help parents have better faith conversations with their children.

Her professional background includes communications consulting, radio production, event planning, and non-profit and church administration. Danielle is a graduate of the Torrey Honors Institute at Biola University where she earned her B.A. in Humanities. She resides in northern Virginia with her husband and two (soon to be three!) children. You can find learn more about her books at and follower her on Instagram and Facebook @catechesisbooks. 

Is My Child Ready to Study the Bible + Where Do We Start?

Have you ever wondered: Is my child ready to study the Bible?

My oldest son, Noah, was almost two, and we were watching one of the Mickey Mouse Christmas movies, Mickey’s Twice Upon a Christmas. In one of the scenes, Mickey gets angry with Pluto and leaves the house in a huff, and Pluto, sad he had disappointed his pal, hops on a train and runs away. 

I look over at my sweet Noah, and his eyes are filled with tears, which begin rolling down his cheeks, sharply followed by a wailing, “Nooooooooooooooo!”

Up until that moment, I’m not sure I realized that Noah was actually following the plot line of the movie. At 21 months old, he was capable to comprehend what was happening in the story. I’m not sure exactly when the change occurred, but he had moved beyond just liking the songs and the moving colors on the television. 

And that was when it hit me: If my child can comprehend a cartoon, he can comprehend the Bible. 

After all, the Bible, in the simplest explanation, is the written record of God’s story. Scripture is the greatest story ever told.

So if you are seeing the signs that your child’s mind can comprehend story, don’t settle for just filling their minds with cartoons. Begin filling their minds with God’s truth. 

Here are a few things that I’ve enjoyed using with my kids:

Don’t wait until they’re ready to get started.

As newborns, I would read a short devotional to my children at night. But here’s the secret between you and me: it wasn’t for them. 

It was for me. 

As a mom of a newborn, when rest was in shorter supply, which also means a lower level of brain functioning, there were times when I would get more from a children’s Bible story or devotion than my own quiet time. 

Why? Because it was simple. And it was often the simple truth of the gospel that my heart needed. 

A few I recommend: The Jesus Storybook BibleHis Little Princess (for girls) by Sheri Rose Shepherd, and His Mighty Warrior(for boys), also by Sheri Rose Shepherd. 

At the toddler stage, interaction plays a large role in comprehension. 

The same truth we know for ourselves starts young. The more senses and learning styles you can cross, the more likely your child is not to just to hear the story, but to retain the story.

In addition to the tools at Tiny Theologians (the ABC cards and the Lord’s Prayer Interactive cards are our faves!),we also love My First Hands-On Bible. Throughout the short stories, there are prompts in the margins for kids to act things out, repeat a phrase, etc.  Especially if you have active kids, these little cues for interaction reallyhelp them engage with the story. 

When they reach reading age, use God’s Word to guide them in spiritual truth with reading benefits. 

Last summer, I did my first full-fledged Bible study with my son, Noah (from the above story – who is now eight!) We studied the book of Proverbs together. It prompted many great discussions, even throughout his school year, as he encountered different situations with friends, academic challenges and teamwork in athletics.

As young as first grade, he is seeing the wisdom in following God’s ways – because he heard the truth in God’s Word first, and then he experienced many of the things God either warns about or encourages us to pursue.

Of course, there were words I needed to help him read, and there were some topics we agreed to dig into more when he’s older, but essentially, Proverbs is a book that reminds us we have a choice to make:

Are we going to live like the wise man, or are we going to live like the fool?

Proverbs reminds us of what the wise man lives like and the rewards that follow wisdom. At the same time, Proverbs also warns us about how the fool chooses to live and the consequences of foolishness.

It’s incredible to me how much those words have weight with him now. If I tell him he’s being wise, he beams. And if I ever have to whisper that he’s headed toward foolishness, he also knows the seriousness of adjusting his behavior. 

To be clear – reading Proverbs together does not create perfect children. But it did have an effect on him, and he was able to comprehend more of it than I expected.

Bottom line: “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” – 2 Timothy 3:16-17

And because we know that’s true, it’s always a good idea for including God’s Word as the foundation of our parenting, and it’s never too early.

You got this, mama – because He’s got you.

The following article was written by Michelle Myers of She Works His Way. You can read more from her on her blog or follow her on Instagram!

Teaching Biblical Languages to Kids

The biblical languages are often full of mystery for us. We hear them referenced in the pulpit or spot them in a commentary, but for many Christians they leave us feeling intimidated, confused, or anxious about the English translation in our hands.

As a Bible-school and seminary grad myself, I learned to love studying the biblical languages, Greek and Hebrew. I ate up the Greek vocabulary words and trudged through the Hebrew parsing. And while there are a lot of reasons for adults to study the biblical languages, there are also good reasons for little ones to learn and love them.

The Soundness of Scripture

The Word of God holds up under great scrutiny. There have been centuries of scholars who have looked deeply into the soundness of the 66 conical books, and the Word of God have proven itself time and time again. By teaching kids that the Word of God was written in languages other than English, we give them a glimpse into the background of the Bible, opening up conversations about the way the Word was originally penned and compiled. Don’t let college professors be the first to tell them about the way the Word was held together, but take the opportunity to teach them God’s Word and about God’s Word now.

The Meta-narrative of the Bible

The Bible teaches one great big story from beginning to end. By showing kids how one word is used throughout Scripture, we give them a theme to trace throughout that great story. For example, when we look at the Greek word “logos,” meaning “word,” we see the ways God spoke to His people through prophets and visions in the Old Testament, and then how Christ comes bursting onto the scene in the opening lines of the New Testament. Jesus isn’t just a messenger from God, but The Word, the very essential message of God for God’s people. With one little word study (no pun intended) you can help your little ones trace one teaching throughout the meta-narrative of Scripture.

A Love for the Deep Things of God

God has called us to love Him with all our hearts and our minds. By studying the original languages — and the memorization that necessarily goes along with that — it reminds us and them to dive deeply into the Word. As we help them do the hard work of study, we form in them a diligence in studying God’s Word, help them cultivate a love for God’s Word, wet their appetite for deep Bible study.

We’ve created a resource to help you do just this. Big Words of the Bible help you teach your little ones 20 key Greek and Hebrew vocabulary words. Each card shows your kiddos where the word is used in the Bible, what it means, and what it teaches them about God’s unchanging character (plus, they have some pretty cute illustrations to help them remember each word). You can easily add them to your Morning Basket or add them to your homeschool curriculum!

Investing Motherhood for Eternity

We’ve all heard the Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14-30). A master gives three servants various sums of money (“talents”) and goes on a journey. When the master returns, he demands an accounting of his resources. Two servants have invested and doubled the original sum. One has buried it and returned the original amount. The two are richly rewarded. The one is chastised for being slothful and cast “into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Matthew 25:30, English Standard Version)

That can’t be good. 

I’ve often felt haunted by this parable. It fills me with a deep sense of foreboding – fear that I’m not doing enough, not giving enough money, not investing enough time in being the best mom or wife or friend or parishioner or neighbor, not evangelizing enough, not reading enough books, not pouring enough of myself out (and out and out). How can I possibly say I’m truly invested if I don’t yet feel like a sucked dry juice box? Only then can I say I’ve really tried! 

The weight of responsibility and the pressure to make something of my life can often feel like too much to bear. It doesn’t help that this passage is often preached with a bit of fire and brimstone, a reminder to redeem the time! You only live once! Carpe diem! (Translated to mom speak… “Your children won’t be small forever so enjoy every minute of the little years!” Yeah. That one haunts me too.) I know theoretically and theologically why it’s wrong to feel this way. But my heart still fears. My heart would break to hear my Lord tell me I’ve been wicked and slothful. I long to hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant!”

The good news is, most of us aren’t the servant who was given five talents or even two. Most of us were just given the one.  In an objective evaluation of our lives, we will find we’ve been gifted with a pretty basic set of responsibilities – spouses, children, extended families, neighbors, jobs, homes, cars. Most of us will not be billionaire philanthropists. Most of us will not have spiritual charge over hundreds, thousands, or millions of people. Most of us will not be CEOs of large companies. 

So, let that take a little pressure off. 

We know from this parable not to bury our one talent. The question is, what do we do with it? How do we know we’re doing enough? There are three principles which guide the answer to that question – gratitude, stewardship, and rest. 

The first posture of any receiver is gratitude for what they’ve been given. From that gratitude will flow a desire to steward your gifts well. To steward something is to provide responsible management for the “talents” God has entrusted to your care. We don’t know much about the first two servants, but we do know they received their “talents” and responsibly invested them. Investing is done with the hope of benefiting all parties since you give to one who needs and receive more in return than you initially started with. By contrast, the third servant receives his “talent” with fear and buries it – benefiting no one, least of all himself. 

As you consider how to steward your gifts, remember God offers you abundant grace in addition to the power of the Holy Spirit. Don’t bury your God-given gifts out of fear – hoarding and shielding them – but rather approach them with gratitude, willing to share them, cultivate them, accept God’s mercy in giving them to you and extend those mercies to others. This can be as simple as being actively present with your children or volunteering your time for a Sunday service a couple times a year. God is not the hard master of the parable, but a loving father who sees and aids your efforts to love Him well by caring for His gifts.  

Finally, remember that one of the most valuable gifts God calls you to steward is yourself, and you were created to need rest. Rest is a key part of Biblical stewardship as established in first chapters of Genesis. God does not ask us to work seven days a week, but commands us to set aside a day of rest and calls this day “holy” (Genesis 2:3, ESV).

If your strivings are exhausting and motivated by fear of failing God, it’s probable that you’re burying yourself rather than investing yourself. 

Remind yourself that God desires to say, “Well done, good and faithful servant!” as much as you long to hear it. So as you work to be a faithful steward, obeying your master’s commands (including resting in Him), take comfort that “he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6, ESV).

If you suffer from chronic doing and/or fear of not doing enough, here are a couple of ways to practice faithfulness instead of fear:

  1. Mediate on and then rewrite Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 about specific seasons of your life. Remember that God does not call us to do all things in all seasons. 
  2. Make a list of your gifts – many of them will be quite “ordinary” (but no less precious!). These include your families, your friends, your home, your neighborhood, your opportunities. Pray over these gifts and how to care for them. Also be sure to read the Babylon Bee’s Father of 3 Wonders When He’ll Get Chance to Influence Others for Christ. 
  3. In the moments you fear you’re not doing enough or not getting it right, remember that Satan guilts in generalities while the Holy Spirit convicts in specifics. In these moments, ask the Holy Spirit to reveal if there are specific failings and to protect you from the attacks of the enemy. 
  4. Ask God to make you aware of the small ways he calls you to faithfulness in your daily life – perhaps pausing to ask a neighbor how she’s doing, putting down your phone to enjoy play-dough with your toddler, or inviting a friend over for coffee.



Danielle Hitchen is the founder of Catechesis Books and the author of the Baby Believer board books – a set of concept books designed to introduce very young children to the core tenets of the Christian faith. She desires to create beautiful books to help parents have better faith conversations with their children.

Her professional background includes communications consulting, radio production, event planning, and non-profit and church administration. Danielle is a graduate of the Torrey Honors Institute at Biola University where she earned her B.A. in Humanities. She resides in northern Virginia with her husband and two (soon to be three!) children. You can find learn more about her books at and follower her on Instagram and Facebook @catechesisbooks. 

My Kids Teach Me that Worship Isn’t About Me | by Courtney Reissig

For as long as I’ve been a believer, I have prided myself in the fact that I don’t view the corporate gathering of God’s people as an entertainment service. In college, when many made the distinction between preaching and “worship” (the singing), I stood firm that it was God’s word preached that was the focal point of the worship gathering. We worship through singing. We worship through prayer. We worship through liturgy. We worship through the preached word. I simply didn’t think I had a problem with thinking church was about my preferences—about me.

Until a couple of months ago.

The twins turned five in February, and as a result aged out of the childcare at our church. We were excited to have them join us in the service. They were excited. They were ready. We all were ready.

But as the weeks have gone on, I’ve noticed something simmering in my own heart. I may have never verbalized that I thought the worship gathering was all about me, but having my five year old boys sit with me every Sunday has made me realize that I thought it was more about me than I had the humility to admit.

Now I can’t close my eyes when I sing, because I’m keeping one eye on a kid, making sure he is also engaged in what is happening (and mostly making sure he doesn’t try to run off or distract other people). Now I can’t take notes as easily, because I’m helping one of the twins get an activity out of his bag. Now I can’t prepare my heart for the Lord’s Supper because I’m answering questions about why I take the bread and they don’t get to. For my entire adult life I’ve been able to focus on the Sunday morning service, now my focus is divided.

This isn’t a commentary on keeping kids in the service. I’ve been greatly served by the childcare these last five years. In many ways, it’s been a lifeline for me to be able to sit and take in God’s word with God’s people in the midst of exhausting little kid years. I think it’s too complex to make it a rule, and I simply don’t see it in scripture as mandated. But it is a conviction to my own heart that while I may have thought I was above the whole “church is an emotional experience thing”, having my kids sitting next to me every Sunday now has shown me that I viewed the Sunday morning gathering as more about me than I wanted to admit.

Our worship of God is never in isolation. As the Psalms (and all of scripture) show us, our deliverance, our worship, our proclamations about the Lord are always so others may hear and say: “God is great.” It’s always so a “people yet to be born may praise the Lord” (Ps. 22:31, 102:18). Our modern conveniences (like childcare, comfortable chairs, air conditioning, etc.) can make us forget that this is always what it’s been about. We worship corporately for the body. We get fed by the word, for sure, but we also are taking in the word with other believers (and those who have yet to call him Lord).

The childcare that I’ve had during the service these last five years has been a gift. I’m glad I had it. I’m glad the twins had time with their friends and had age-appropriate lessons. But I’m also learning to be thankful for the time in the service with them, interrupted as it is. When I hear them singing, it’s a reminder to pray to ask God to make the words they are singing true in their own lives. When they ask questions, it forces me to articulate what I believe to them. And it models worship to them. It’s a reminder that worship isn’t about me. It’s about the body, one I pray they will join themselves to one day.


This is a guest post from Courtney Reissig.

Courtney is a wife, mother, writer, and speaker. Born in California, raised in Texas, all with a couple stints in Michigan before finally graduating from Northwestern College (MN). After doing some graduate study at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, she met her husband Daniel and fell in love. They now make their home in Little Rock, Arkansas where they are the parents of four boys; Luke and Zach (who are twins), Seth, and Ben. They are also members of Midtown Baptist Church, where her husband serves as an elder.

You can read more from her on her blog, or follow her on Twitter

When Giving Your Kids Grace Feels Impossible | by Maggie Combs

Remember when your kids were just a growing bump in your carefree world? You already love them so much, that you can’t imagine a time when they wouldn’t feel like the most wonderful thing in your world.

Then they come, and they scream and poop and grow up to throw defiant tantrums and wake you up at 5:00 am on Saturdays. Those kids that you love with all your heart and would sacrifice your life for manage to strip you of all your ability to give grace for their daily difficulties.

Why is it so hard to give them grace when we love them so much?

  1. They make our lives really uncomfortable: They are a complete disruption of our physical comfort. They wake us up nightly. We must feed them first when our own stomach is angry with hunger. They want to be picked up and carried when our backs are aching. We hold our pee until it hurts because it’s just too difficult to take them to the bathroom with us at Target. They injure us constantly, not on purpose—most of the time. They simply make our lives physically uncomfortable.
  2. They put themselves first 99% of the time: Kids just don’t know how to put someone else first. Even if they start to learn to occasionally think of their sibling’s needs before their own, it’s a rare moment for them to remember that their parents have needs and desires too.
  3. They fight for the control we want: God has appointed us as the heads of our families, but they certainly don’t realize that. They will fight for control of every situation from what cup they want to the perfect arrangement for their pillows, blankets, and stuffed animals that must be achieved before we are allowed to leave the room at bedtime.
  4. They make us feel powerless: Nothing will make you feel less in charge of a situation than battling a tantrumming two-year-old in the grocery store. Even if you persevere in gentle discipline as your kid bangs their head against the floor in anger, you feel absolutely powerless to fix the situation.
  5. It feels like a personal attack: When kids forget or fail to meet our expectations, forget to follow our instructions, or deliberately disobey, it feels personal. It’s like they are saying, “Hey Mom, I see you and hear you and I don’t care.” We think that any shortcomings of our children show that we have failed as a mom. We imagine that they see right through us and are personally subverting our instructions. We give them way too much credit.

In the face of these challenges, how do we give grace? 

Our most important role as parents is to be grace-giving gospel teachers. That doesn’t mean skipping discipline or even punishment. It means promoting and supporting the truth of the gospel through our discipline.

But we aren’t disciplining years-sanctified mini-Christians. We have a rebellion on our hands. There’s nothing comfortable, powerful, or controlling about giving grace in the face of overwhelming rebellion.

But that’s what Christ does. I seek my own comfort, not the glory of God. I put my own needs before the kingdom 99% of the time. I constantly fight God for control over my circumstances. I grasp for power through my endless list of expectations for my life. My utter rebellion is an attack on the very person of God.

“But he gives more grace.” James 4:6

Our supply of grace for our children in the face of their constant rebellion comes directly from the overflowing bounty of God’s grace to us. Because he gives more grace to us, we can give more grace to them. Because he laid down his life for us, we can lay down our comfort, desire for control, power plays, and self-esteem for the sake of our children. This kind of Christlike servanthood will be the grace that teaches them the gospel.

Our job is not to squelch a rebellion, but to spark a grace-built revolution in their little hearts. May we tap into the overflowing stores of God’s grace for us every day, to find the grace we will need to offer our children today.

This is a guest post by Maggie Combs.

Maggie is a wife, mom of three busy boys, writer, and speaker. When motherhood overwhelmed her, God drew her closer to him through writing her first book, Unsupermommy: Release Expectations, Embrace Imperfection, and Connect to God’s Superpower.

Find more of her practical application of the gospel to motherhood at or on Instagram and Facebook.

Parents, You Can Do Hard Things

“It’s just not for me, I guess,” she said, shaking her head with resignation. The words fell from her mouth with a splat; they were deflated and her heart was fit to match. Between us sat an open Bible, a well-worn dictionary, two pens, and plenty of scratch paper. We were working through the Text verse-by-verse, learning our way to effective interpretation through a mess of underlining, highlighting, and circling. The past hour had proven difficult to be sure, and as we hit yet another word that required the dictionary, she was waiving her white flag.

This conversation was not unique. Over at The Rooted Home we have recently started an exegetical Bible study through the book of Jonah, and we’re starting our study by doing a Book Overview (looking into the cultural setting, historical context, author, date of the writing, etc.). And this group of Bible students is working hard, and I couldn’t be more proud. But when others hear what we’re doing, they’re often surprised; when I ask them to join, the response has become common:

I can’t do it. I guess I’m just a devotional kind of person.

I don’t have the time to learn how to do this. Are there any good studies you’d recommend instead?

This is a lot harder than I expected; I just don’t know if I’m smart enough.

The refrain has become common and even unsurprising. And here is what I want to say to each and every Christian who has said, felt, admitted, confessed, or thought these things (including myself): you can do hard things.

I’m not saying that Bible study is easy. I’m not saying that it doesn’t require a learning curve or a good amount of time and effort. I don’t believe that it comes easily to most, and my personal experience says that it takes a lot of persistence and practice. Studying the Bible is not necessarily and easy task, but … you can do hard things.

Yes, a pre-packaged Bible study is easier, but on its own it is not your daily bread. Others can do the work of studying and re-framing the truths of God’s Word for you, but you’ll then miss the rich and rewarding work of spending time in the Word for yourself. I know there are a plethora of blogs and Instagram accounts that make the Word of God seem like a quick pick-me-up, and a short fix. Yes, that would be much easier. But, you can do hard things.

Will it require early mornings? Maybe. Will it require you to focus during nap time while there’s a little quiet? Probably. It will take your time – your sparse, limited, free time.  And you will have to push back other intruding demands on your time, and this will take hard and persistent work. And, you can do hard things.

I find this mindset is much more prevalent among women. It is easy for women in our Pinterest culture to conceive that Biblical womanhood is solely about cultivating a trendy home and finding the quickest and cheapest slow cooker recipe. But when we only look around us for examples of Biblical womanhood, we fail to look back – back to the women of the Bible who did hard things and blazed a trail for us to follow.

1 Samuel 25 – Abigail, the wife of a wicked husband, saved her family from the fury of the nation’s leader, David, by extending biblical hospitality that her husband neglected. 

2 Kings 22 – Huldah studied and interpreted the Word of God before the leaders of the nations. When the kings had failed to remember God’s words – having lost the Scriptures themselves – Huldah taught them the ways of God again.

Judges 4 -Deborah led the nation of Israel, exercising her discernment and wisdom and leadership over the people of God. She led the nation into battle as God led, and she spoke as a prophet to the people on behalf of God Himself. 

Esther 1 – Esther, the orphaned daughter of Jewish parents, exercised courage and wisdom as she outsmarted an enemy of her people, and saved her people from national destruction. 

Luke 2 – Mary, a teen, virgin girl, believed the words of the Lord when it was told her that she would mother the Messiah. With great courage she birthed the Son of God among stable animals, and placed Him in a feeding trough.

Matthew 27:56 – Mary Madeline followed Jesus as a disciple. Defying the cultural mandates on women in her day she learned from Jesus and followed Him throughout His earthly ministry.  

We will all need help, we will all need others to teach us along the way, but each and every one of us can do it. We are in good company with the women of faith in our spiritual lineages – those who did not turn back at the first sign of difficulty, but pressed into the challenge to the glory of God.

Like them, our God has graciously equipped us with sharp minds, teachable hearts, and the will power to form our loves around His Word. It might seem like a resolution that will fade away in the coming weeks, but you and I can do the hard work of pressing through, pressing on, and persistently coming to God’s Word as His students.

As you start this new year, don’t be more easily convinced by convenience. You – yes, you – can.

So, will you? Will you join me? Will you make 2018 the year that we dig into God’s Word together? By God’s grace, embrace this truth: we can, and we will.

Raising Tiny Theologians

Something about the thin, round glasses hanging on the end of the professor’s nose and the bow tie neatly tucked beneath his white collar made him feel all the more believable.

It was my first day and my very first class of Bible college. Freshman year held a host of uncomfortable, nervous, and intimidating moments, but this one will always be etched in my mind. His voice reverberated with age, experience and authority, and his words struck my timid heart with surprise and self-doubt.

“Everyone is a theologian.”

He went on to explain that every person possesses a theology – a view of God – whether they know it or not. He contended that we, even at 18 and 19 years old, had a belief system regarding God, the word, the Church, and other things. We picked up on teachings, let suggested dispositions settle into our hearts, and allowed subtle theologies to sink into our minds.

“Every one of you is a theologian,” he repeated; “But are you good ones?”

In little time, he became a favorite professor. I ate up what he taught, I asked questions, I requested additional resources because he was right: I did have a view of God, I was a theologian, but I had not taken the time to be a good one.

“Theology” can be an intimidating word. For many of us, it calls to mind professors, pastors, or academics tirelessly pouring over ancient books. But in its simplest form, it means “the study of God” (“Theos” is derived from the Greek word for “the divine”, and “ology” comes from the Latin “to study”). And the reality is that we each have a concept of God in place. Each and every person, whether knowingly or unknowingly, believes something about the divine. We have beliefs about God’s character, activity and intentions, many of which lie so deep within us that we are often unaware In a thousand ways each day, you and I “study” “the divine” as we hear about a flood on the news or walk with a friend through loss. So, the question cannot be, “Am I a theologian?” Instead, we need to start asking, “Have I taken the time to be a good one?”

The world around us seeks to shape our view of God every day. Shows on TV, friends on Facebook, and ads at the subway station are constantly sending messages that ultimately shape our view of God. And our kids are not exempt – the shows they watch, the books they read, and the neighbors they play with are all teaching them something about God, his relationship to his people, and his world. Even the littlest ones in our homes are growing every day into tiny theologians with their own views of God. So, the question cannot be, “Are our children theologians?” But instead, “Have we taken the time to teach them to be good ones?”

When most of us think about talking to kids about theology, we think of their view of God like a car sitting in neutral. It is easy to think that they will go about their lives unmoved until we push them along in the faith. As the most prominent and earliest influencers in their lives, it’s easy to believe that when you have the time you’ll move them a little bit here and there, until they’re old enough to drive the road of faith for themselves.

In the world we live in, our theology and our kids’ theology is like a car in neutral, but a car in neutral on an incline. The world is taking our view of God somewhere. It is teaching us and forming us, even while we are unaware. It is not often a steep or sharp incline, but subtle. It seeps into our beliefs casually, slowly, and often unnoticed. Kids are learning about God as they’re told why they should be on good behavior at school or why they should say, “I’m sorry” and “I forgive you” after a tiff among friends. And if we are not attentively teaching our children about the God of the Bible – about the gospel that compels us by love to obey him and that we can only forgive others by the grace of the God who forgave us – the world will.

Thank God that he has equipped each and every one of us to be a student of his word! Each of us – you and me and even our tiny theologians – are able to come to the word of God, to study it with joy and understanding, and to communicate those rich truths to one other. It is a true gift of God that he gave us his word to teach us all about who he is and who we are in relationship with him. By his Spirit, he has empowered us to study the Bible and teach the Bible, and by his Spirit He will form each of us more and more in his likeness.

Here is the encouragement I want to leave you with today: You are a theologian. And by God’s good grace he will make each of us good ones. This is the joyful work of the Spirit: he has been bringing people to faith, raising them up in the faith, and growing them through the faith since the beginning of the world. And he wants to do the same for you and me and every little one. We simply have the honor and joy of joining with him in that process, and partnering with him in the gospel work he has called us to.