Defining Theological Words for Kids

When we choose to study theology, we expect to come across words we don’t know.  This can be hard enough for us as adults, but how do we explain these “big” theological words to our children?  We have a couple options available to us:

Try a Different Translation

As an example, let’s take Romans 3:21-25:

 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. Romans 3:1-25, ESV

Oh, my!  There are quite a lot of words in that passage that will need to be defined for children (and adults!).  Let’s see if using another translation helps:

But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22 This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. 25 God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished. Romans 3:21-25, NIV

OK, so that doesn’t really help anything.  The English Standard Version and the New International Version are very common translations used in many churches and bible studies.  Let’s try the translation I like to use when reading bible stories to kids:

But now God has shown us a way to be made right with him without keeping the requirements of the law, as was promised in the writings of Moses and the prophets long ago. 22 We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are. 23 For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.24 Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins.25 For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood. This sacrifice shows that God was being fair when he held back and did not punish those who sinned in times past. Romans 3:21-25, NLT

Well, that helps a bit more, but it’s not the best option.  Our children need to recognize and understand the big theological words.  These words are part of the history of our faith and they have been chosen for a specific reason.  There is deep and complex meaning being summed up in each big theological word.  Our children need to recognize and understand these big words and I firmly believe the CAN understand them!

Define Big Theological Words with Concrete Examples

The best way to help our kids understand theology is to explain these big theological words to them using concrete examples when possible.  By the time our children reach first grade they should be familiar with hearing some of these big words and with Bible stories in general. (This is why family devotions are so important!)

Today, I want to give you examples of defining three theological words: redemption/redeemed, justify/justification and propitiation.

Defining theological words for kids.
Redeem means to buy back.

Redemption/Redeemed

To redeem something means to gain or regain possession of something in exchange for payment.  In a more simple phrase: redeem means to buy back.

The picture of redemption in scripture is redemption from slavery.  Our freedom is bought back (redeemed) for us: mankind was created free from sin in the beginning, but chose to disobey God and become slaves to sin and under the penalty of sin (Romans 6:23).  Christ, through His death (and resurrection), paid the price to redeem us from slavery to sin.

Justify, the picture of a balanced scale.
Justify means to balance the scale; to make the scale “right.”

Justify/Justification (Bonus: Imputed Righteousness)

Justify is a legal term meaning to prove right or to be made right.  We see a picture of justification when we look at a balance scale.  The scale is justified when both sides are equal and balanced.

Often in Christianity justified is defined as declared righteous.  We are declared righteous (justified) because the scale has been made level.  God’s righteousness on one side of the scale is so “heavy” that no amount of our good works can bring the scale to balance.  We need the perfect righteousness of Christ on our side of the scale in order for the scale to balance.  When we trust Christ for our salvation, His righteousness is put on our side of the scale (imputed righteousness).

We are justified (declared righteous) because the scale has been made right (balanced) by Christ’s righteousness being put on our side of the scale (in-putted righteousness = imputed righteousness).

Defining theological words for kids.
Propitiation: Atoning Sacrifice

Propitiation (Bonus: Atonement)

Propitiation is a good example of why these big theological words are so important:  the meaning of propitiation is so complex that there is no other single word to conveys its complex meaning.

In propitiation, the wrath of God is satisfied.  God’s wrath is satisfied by the sacrificial death of Jesus.  Jesus dies in our place (sacrifices His life) and takes our punishment (God’s wrath and eternal death and separation from God).  This act redeems (buys back) our life and brings us back into right relationship with God (reconciliation).

Many people define propitiation as an atoning sacrifice.  Atonement can be explained by dividing the word: at-one-ment. Through the death and resurrection of Christ (sacrifice), we now become at-one with God; the relationship has been mended!

Conclusion

Thanks for sticking with me through this long post!  I hope this helps you to see the importance of defining (and using) these “big” theological words with our kids.

Please comment with any questions or any concrete examples you have heard that help you understand these great words.

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Why I Don’t Do Crafts With My Kids

I consider myself a fairly crafty person.  I sew and knit.  I’ve made personal care products.  I DIY cleaning supplies and natural remedies for my home and family.  But one thing I DON’T do is crafts with my kids.

If you search Pinterest for “crafts for kids” you will get TONS of suggestions.  Some will be easy to execute, some will be difficult.  Some will use stuff you have around the house and some will require a trip to the craft store before you can begin.  IF you commit to a craft with your kids, you may or may not end up with something worth keeping, but of course, your kids will want to keep it forever.

However, if you LOVE crafting with your kids, keep it up!  I’m sure your kids love it and as long as it is a joy and not a burden, that is all that matters!

I cook with my kids, I color with my kids, I do play dough with my kids and once or twice a year I may help them with a useful crafty project to give as a gift (bath bombs, dish towels with handprints, etc).  But most of the time, I just encourage creativity.

I don't craft with my kids; I encourage creativity!

Encouraging Creativity

We have crayons, colored pencils, watercolor pencils, markers, paints, glitter glue, lots of paper, scissors, tape and more glue easily accessible and available for use at pretty much any time.  I’ve found that my kids would rather create their own pictures than color a pre-printed page.

I encourage them to be creative and draw, paint, cut and glue to their hearts’ content.  Some of these creations we display for a time, some they throw away the same day, but most get a picture taken of them sometime.  This way we get to keep the memories without keeping the actual creation.  Each of our children also has a bulletin board in their rooms that they can use to display special creations.

I don't craft with my kids; I encourage creativity!

Learning Actual Crafts

By the time a child reaches second or third grade, they usually have the focus and the fine motor skills to be able to learn a craft like sewing, cross stitch, knitting, crocheting, etc.  Wait until there is an actual desire to learn a particular skill; then start slowly and don’t force it.  Enjoy the process.  This is also a great opportunity to encourage some one-on-one time with you or with a special friend or relative.  My mother-in-law has taught my eldest basic sewing skills.  It was great one-on-one time for them!

As a child’s desire to learn a particular skill grows, there are many resources available.  From YouTube videos and Craftsy classes to How to Draw books and various homeschool art curriculum.

I don't craft with my kids; I encourage creativity!

My Favorite Creative Supplies to Have on Hand

This is not a sponsored post.  These are actually what we buy, love and use!

Markers

The regular “fat” markers as well as the fine point (or thin line).  I like getting a few sets in different color collections (classic, tropical, pastel, bright, etc).  The Crayola Washable markers are by far the best at washing out of clothes and off of surfaces.

Crayons

My kids only use crayons occasionally so I only keep a box of 24 on hand.  Again, I think Crayola is the nicest to use.

Colored Pencils

We like to have a basic set of colored pencils, and don’t forget a sharpener!  Crayola and Pentel make nice colored pencils

Paints

We keep watercolor paints with 16 colors on hand at all times.  Washable finger paints are fun but still a bit messy.  Watercolor pencils are fun for older kids.  Crayola has a basic and inexpensive set of watercolor pencils to try and see if you like them.

An inexpensive set of paint brushes of various sizes and with various brush styles is also fun to create different effects.

Chalk

Fun inside on a chalkboard (be prepared for the dust).  Great to use outside to create large-scale drawings!  Just don’t leave it out in the rain.

Scissors

Fiskars makes nice safety scissors for young children as well as scissors with a pointed end that can make detailed cuts but still work for small hands.  I like to have one pair of scissors per child.

Glue

White or clear “school glue” and glue sticks are nice to have.  Elmers is an inexpensive brand that works great.

Tape

Masking tape and clear/transparent tape work well for almost anything.  3M Scotch brand is the best: it sticks the best and the dispenser and tear strip work the best.

Fun washi tape or other decorative tape or stickers are fun embellishments for kids too.

Glitter

Kids love glitter but it can be such a mess!  Whoever created glitter glue is a genius!  Works like glue, comes in fun colors, but cleans up with water just like glue.  No more vacuuming glitter up for days!  Sequins or other larger sparkles can be glued on individually and cleaned up much more easily than glitter also!

Paper

Large packs of basic white printer paper and construction paper can be found very inexpensively.  We also asked our church secretary to save any papers that are only printed on one side that she would otherwise recycle.  The kids create on the unused side and then we recycle when finished!

Those are our favorite supplies to keep on hand to encourage creativity in our children, do you have any favorites?  Please share in the comments!

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Resistance

Have you ever had one of those days (or weeks) when everything seems to be going wrong?  Sometimes it is the result of a living in this sinful world where things break and fall apart, where people get sick and hurt and where God is not honored.  But at other times we are encountering resistance.  Spiritual resistance from the enemy.

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.  James 1:2-4, ESV

What is Spiritual Resistance?

Spiritual resistance occurs when you are in the center of God’s will for you.  When we are where God wants us to be and doing (or preparing to do) what He has called us to do, the enemy recognizes this and tries to place resistance in our path in order to discourage us.  When this happens we are tempted to remove our focus from what God is calling us to do in order to deal with the “emergency.”  We can also be tempted to become discouraged and turn away from what God is calling us to do.

Identifying Spiritual Resistance

I’m not from a charismatic background.  I rarely raise my hands during worship.  I don’t see a demon behind every bush or under every bad thing.  But sometimes there is a check in my spirit.  The Holy Spirit is revealing to me that something significant is happening in the spiritual realm.

Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.  Romans 5:3-5, ESV

We’ve experienced it in the past.  One Saturday night our children would not sleep well.  We were up with restless kids, we were kept up by restless dogs, our spirits felt restless.  The next day Tony was leading music for church and the pastor was planning to bring a challenging message.  Resistance.  We calmly dealt with our children (over and over!) and tried to sleep when we could and underlined it all with quiet, personal prayer.  A word here or there in our minds.  A song or scripture in our hearts as we drifted off to sleep.  All seemed to go fine on Sunday morning.  Nothing major happened good or bad (that we know of), but God sees more than we will ever see.

Encountering Spiritual Resistance

What to do When You Encounter Resistance

Know what you know

About God:

  • God is all-knowing and all-powerful.  Nothing happens apart from His knowledge and nothing is outside of His power.
  • God is good.  Whatever is happening is for His glory and my good.  (Romans 8:28-30)
  • God calls us to trust Him and obey Him, even when we don’t understand.
  • God is more powerful than the enemy.
  • The enemy only can do what God allows him to do.

About the enemy:

  • The enemy is NOT all powerful and NOT all-knowing, God is.
  • The enemy is against God and tries his best to thwart God’s plans, but he can only do what God allows him to do.
  • The enemy cannot read our minds/thoughts.
  • The enemy cannot be everywhere.

Surround yourself with truth and pray

When we are tempted to be discouraged and to give up, we need to focus on the truth.  On who God is and what He has done.  We need to continue in the direction He has shown us while still being open to His leading to change course.

We pray for God’s wisdom and direction (James 1:5).  We pray even when we don’t know what to pray for (Romans 8:26-27).  We pray boldly and we pray out loud (because the enemy can’t “hear” our thoughts).  We pray for others as God brings them to mind; maybe we are feeling the resistance for someone else.

I can’t pretend to understand everything about God, the enemy, spiritual resistance and prayer.  But I can act on the truth I have been given and trust God with the rest.

Have you encountered resistance?  How do you deal with it?