Dying So They May Live

John 12:24-26 – I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. [25] The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. [26] Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.

Hold On Loosely

In our scripture Jesus teaches his disciples he is going to die, but that he must if they would live. A kernel of wheat must die if it would produce many seeds.

Have you ever wondered why reformation and revival has not broken out across the church at large or yours in particular? There are perhaps many reasons, but one reason is we are holding on too preciously and tightly to our own lives, unwilling to die. Jesus said in order to reproduce many seeds we must die. Do we love our lives too much in this world?

The Rule

My life for yours. Genuine, substitutionary, and sacrificial living. Following and serving our King wherever he may lead, to whatever end. This brings honor from the Father. This glorifies the Father. This universal principle is the rule, not the exception, because it reflects the very character of the Lord we worship.

My life for yours. God calls us as Christian parents to train and nurture our children in the Lord – when they rise, when they go to bed, as they live throughout the day, when it’s convenient, when it’s inconvenient. We must make sure our children are not merely “taught at” but saturated in the things of God each day, all day, because they are eternal beings and heirs of the King. “I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.”

Your Legacy

Are you leaving a godly legacy to and for your children and your children’s children for a thousand generations? Are you dying so they can live – really live? Can you think outside your individual life to see how your own death will extend the Kingdom of God by producing many seeds? Will you believe the promises God has made regarding faithful, covenantal parenting? Your life for theirs and for a thousand generations after them. Talk about a payoff!

But this is hard. That’s why it’s called death. Death to self. It is intentional, committed, disciplined. It’s every day, all day. It’s the discipling of your children because it is your joy, blessing, and responsibility before God to do so. Your life for theirs. The Kingdom of God grows in such ways. Darkness is engulfed by light through such ways. Reformation and revival are ushered in through such faith and obedience. God promises blessings to such as these.

But First You Must Die

Do with less stuff if it means more time with your family. Play with your children at the end of the day, even when you are tired. Discipline your children, even when you would rather not. Cast a God-glorifying vision before your children of who they could be for Jesus. Read great stories to your children so their imaginations are ignited as they put themselves in the places of the characters in the stories. Tell them about the heroes of the faith who have gone before them, so they might see how others have given themselves for Christ and his Kingdom.

Teach your children who God is – his person, plan, power, and purpose. Drive home again and again what the gospel is and is not (after all, we’re not trying to merely make better citizens or “behaviorally correct” robots). Teach and show them God’s grace. They must learn what it means to know, love, and follow Christ. They have to understand that the Christian faith is a total world and life view that addresses every sphere of life.

Create A Christian Culture

We are called to create Christian cultures in our homes through the power of God’s Word and Spirit, so our children will bring that salt and light influence into every other sphere of their lives for Christ. This is first and foremost the responsibility of Christian parents, not others, not even the church. Our lives for theirs. We must die so they can live.

Can we let go? Of our wants, things, desires, passions – our very lives? We must if we would find real life – abundant life – eternal life. Life in service to the King is not our own. It’s better. Only in dying are we raised. Only in dying are more seeds produced, and therefore, more fruit. Our lives for theirs.

Faithfulness Now

From our commitment and hard daily labor now, what might God do later in response? Might he use one of our children, (or one of our children’s children), to bring many to Christ, transform the culture, usher in reformation and revival in the church, extend the Kingdom of God as never before? We have every reason to believe he will! But we must die. We must fall to the ground and die. We must give our lives for our children’s lives, and for their children after them, so God may be pleased and choose to honor us by blessing those for whom we gave our lives.

My life for yours. Our lives for theirs. This is biblical faith.


Walking Points

• What makes dying to self so difficult, even for your children?
• What are some practical ways you can give your life for theirs?
• Write down some ideas of new things you can do to produce fruit in the life of your children.
• Discuss these ideas with two or three other men who will hold you accountable for putting your ideas into practice and who will pray for you and your children. Don’t wait to do this… start today.


Prayer

Heavenly Father, it’s hard for me to die to myself. And when I see all that my Lord Jesus sacrificially did on my behalf, it makes me feel even more ashamed that I’m not willing to do a fraction of that for those I love most in this world. Please forgive me. Create within me, by your grace-giving Spirit, a deep desire to pursue this sacrificial life and give me the strength and direction to live it out the rest of my life. I want to love and glorify you as well as lovingly bless my children. Give me a sanctified self-forgetfulness so I may truly put others, my children included, before myself. Remind me often that, “unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.” In the name of the One who gave his all that I might live. Amen.


This Week’s Prayer Guide

[You can use this prayer guide in your own personal prayer time. However, I encourage you to use it with a group of Christian men. Each week you should spend time praising God for who he is, confessing your sin to him (be specific) as well as expressing gratitude to him for his gracious forgiveness. Also, don’t forget to thank God for the many ways he has poured out his goodness in your life. Then, focus on the following areas of supplication, which will change from week to week.]

Petitions – prayers for yourself

• My personal mission field
 Help me to identify those people who make up my personal mission field.
 Enable me to begin sharing the gospel with those who do not yet know you.
 Empower me to disciple those who are young in their faith.
 Allow me to encourage those who are struggling in their faith.
 Please give me perseverance in all areas of ministry.
• Today’s events and interactions with others, planned and unplanned
• Other needs

Intercession – prayers for others

• My family
• For missionaries throughout the world
• For those seeking to faithfully minister to loved ones at home
• For those who share the gospel in the inner city
• For those who bear witness to Christ in places of power
• Other needs

Children’s Bible Stories

A photo by Samantha Sophia. unsplash.com/photos/NaWKMlp3tVsLots of Versions Out There

Trying to find a good Bible storybook to read to your young children is often a challenge. Some aren’t much more than “Jesus loves you” messages – page after page – with a few baby cherub pictures thrown in. And children, as well as adults, need to hear that message. Then there’s a variety of other versions that add value in other ways. And, of course, it’s hard to beat simply reading a regular version of the Bible to your child. However, I believe a good children’s Bible storybook can shepherd you children in very helpful ways.

My Favorite

A few years ago I came across a set of Bible stories I have read to my children ever since. These stories come in a ten volume set, entitled, The Bible Story by Arthur Maxwell. You can learn more about the book and the author by clicking here.

The series covers the entire Bible. No story, (I’m pretty sure), has been left out. Because the purpose of God’s Word is not always to give us every detail of a person’s life (example: Jesus’ childhood), the author respectfully (and, I think, faithfully) “speculates” about such things. He never makes up things a Bible character said or did. And if he’s just exercising a little “imaginative wonder,” he clearly communicates that.

The pictures are fantastic. Very colorful. My kids love the pictures as well as the stories. We bounce back and forth between an Old Testament volume and then a New Testament volume.

One of the things I like most about the series is that it was written in the 1950s. I know there is no golden era of the Christian faith, however, I really like the fact that this is not yet another children’s book trying more to be “relevant” to the child than faithful to the text. Who needs that? The author gives a faithful rendering of the story (with many bits and pieces of the actual biblical text interspersed  throughout the story). His winsomeness has given my children a real love for the stories and a deep desire to hear them again and again. You can’t beat that.

Here’s the link again to the website that sells this series:

The Bible Story
More than four hundred stories in ten volumes covering the entire Bible from Genesis to Revelation
by Arthur S. Maxwell

I encourage you to buy this series at once and begin reading the stories to your children. You won’t regret it. It’s an impacting and fun way to shepherd your children. And as I said earlier, you just can’t beat that.

Caveat: The author is a Seventh Day Adventist and his view of the Sabbath is apparent to the discerning reader. But those who do not share his view can take the time to explain why they celebrate the Lord’s Day on a Sunday instead of a Saturday.

​Finally, let me add a children’s catechism would be a good addition to begin shaping your child’s theology.

Grace and Truth,
Dale