Bringing Your Kids to Jesus
About the Guest
What is theology? Pastor Marty Machowski explains that because theology is the study of God, theology is for everyone, including our kids. Machowski encourages parents to get God's Word in front of their children using his new book, "The Ology," a beautifully illustrated storybook where kids will discover life-changing truths about God, themselves, and the world.
Marty MachowskiMarty Machowski is a Family Life Pastor at Covenant Fellowship Church in Glen Mills, Pennsylvania, where he has served on the pastoral staff for over twenty years. He is the author of the Gospel Story for Kids series, which includes The Gospel Story Bible, Long Story Short, Old Story New, and the Gospel Story Curriculum, as well as the Advent devotional and curriculum Prepare Him Room. He and his wife Lois and their six children reside in West Chester, Pennsylvania.
What is theology? Marty Machowski explains that because theology is the study of God, theology is for everyone, including our kids.
Bringing Your Kids to Jesus
Bob: So how have you heard about families using this? Is this something they just read at the dinner table, or what are the different ways you’ve heard about the book being used?
Marty: Well, like a storybook that you would read to your kids, it tells a story. I’m communicating these complex theological concepts in a storyline, all the way from creation through redemption. I’ve put them on that storyline—you can read it through, from start to finish.
But I’ve seen that parents have used this as a nighttime devotion, where, just before bed, they read a section to their children. They’re short; so it literally can be that five minutes before bedtime, “Let’s catch another story.” Other parents have used it at dinnertime, where they’ll pull the book out and, just after dinner, before everyone scatters their own way, they’ll read through a chapter, which, again, takes about five minutes.
It’s not so much the length, but it’s the consistency of working with your children, day after day. I like to use the illustration of water dripping on a piece of granite. One little drop of water doesn’t really do much to that granite; but over time,—
Marty: —it can wear a hole. As parents, we wonder: “How are the lives of my children going to be transformed? What am I going to do?” That’s where we make our mistake: “No; no! That’s what the Spirit of God is going to do. What we can be is faithful to proclaim this message.”
Dennis: Your assignment is just to teach the truth to your kids.
Marty: That’s exactly right; and God what?—we plant, we water, but who gives the increase? The Bible says God gives the increase / God makes it grow. Farmers plant those seeds, and then—well, if you’ve ever planted a garden, what you do is—you plant it. You’re so curious to see what’s going to happen—so after about a week, you go out and see, “Do I have anything popping up out of the dirt?” The next day, “Do I have anything popping up out of the dirt?” And then, one day, life emerges from that dead thing that you planted.
Marty: That’s the very analogy the Bible gives us for evangelism. So, as a parent, what am I doing? I’m taking my dead efforts—that’s what they feel like to me!—I’m just trying to read the Bible and trying to help my kids. I plant those seeds in their heart, and then I keep looking.
Dennis: Did your kids ever ask you a question you didn’t know the answer to?
Marty: All the time! [Laughter]
Bob: You’re a pastor too!
Dennis: Give me an illustration—
Bob: You’re supposed to know the answers!
Dennis: I think, one time, our kids asked us, “Dad, can God make a rock so big that He couldn’t pick it up?”
Marty: Well, my kids asked me this question: “How do we know that God is there when we can’t see Him?” They asked me that question. What I said was: “Well, let me tell you this. We know that Jesus walked the earth, and lived and died. It’s the greatest historical fact of all time.
The Bible says that if we believe in Jesus—that He died on the cross for our sins and rose again—that the Spirit of God / the Holy Spirit—God places into our hearts as a guarantee. I can tell you this: “I know that the Holy Spirit lives in me. So, for me, God’s presence living inside of me is all I need to know that God is real. One day, God’s going to do that for you too.”
Dennis: And what I would say to a parent who’s afraid that questions are going to be asked: “God loves the prayer of a helpless parent.”
Dennis: Just shoot up a prayer to God as your child asks you the question—go, “Lord, God, I don’t know how to answer the question about whether You’ve ever made a rock so big You couldn’t pick it up. Would you give me the answer to that?” Then, you may say something like, “Well, you know, son, I think God could pick up any rock that He created.” That may satisfy your child.
He doesn’t need a deep, profoundly theological answer. He may be asking a very simple question—he’s just looking for some reflective thoughts from his mom or his dad about that question.
Bob: And, certainly, you could say to a child, “God can’t create something greater than Himself, because there is nothing greater than Himself. So the answer is, ‘No, He can’t create a rock greater than Himself, because then that rock would be God; and God can’t create another god.’ Now, is He all-powerful? He’s all-powerful, but He can’t create anything greater than Himself.” Does that make sense?
Bob: Now, how about this one?—because here’s how I answered, “How do I know if God’s there when I can’t see Him?” I said, “Look out in the backyard on a windy day. Have you ever seen the wind?” My kids would say, “Well, I’ve seen it blowing in the trees.” I said: “But have you ever seen the wind? Have you ever seen the air blowing in the trees? You’ve seen the result of the wind going through the trees—
—“you’ve seen the branches wave / you’ve seen the leaves come down—but you’ve never seen the wind, because the wind is invisible. But you know the wind is there because you see the branches waving in the wind.
“In the same way, we know God’s there, because we see the effect of God in the lives of people all over the earth. How do you know that love exists? Have you ever seen love? Well, you’ve seen people being loving to other people. That’s how you know love exists, because you see the fruit of love in the lives of others. How do we know God exists?—because we see the fruit of God all around us in the world.”
Try another one on me—go ahead! Toss me another! [Laughter] Try to stump me! Those are pretty good answers; don’t you think?!
Dennis: And I would say, “Go to the Bible.
Dennis: “Read the Bible and say: ’You know, here is God’s Word. He said that, in the beginning, He created the heavens and the earth. All of life really boils down to the question: “Will you believe what God said about Himself, about life, and about you?”
Dennis: “’So you’ve got to decide where you’re going to place your faith—on those things you can see or on those things that are promised by Almighty God.’”
Bob: Marty, Dennis mentioned that you referenced Wayne Grudem at the beginning of your book, who has written a book on systematic theology. You also dedicated the book to a 104-year-old man.
Marty: I did! Carl Rousch—that is my wife’s grandfather. I had the privilege of meeting Carl after we were engaged. I remember that as being such a profound moment—this man was the patriarch of their family. They believed that they themselves, and all of the children and grandchildren, were believers because of his prayers.
So here I was—he was sound of mind as though he were 30 years old. He greeted us—he said “How’s your sister in Newtown Square?—and her children, Gretchen and Conrad?”
He started going through the names, like a man who was 40 years old. He congratulated us on our engagement.
Then he got very serious—he said this: “Always make room in your home for Jesus, just like Mary and Martha did whenever He came to town. Always make room in your home for Jesus.” Then He went through the Scriptures, from Genesis on through to the gospels and exhorted us. The last thing that he said is: “My time is short. I am soon going to be at Jesus’ feet. I long for the day when I can see Him, face to face.” I met him for just a few moments, but that memory just really has been burned in my heart.
Bob: And I want to read the note from Carl—a wish from him—that you put at the beginning of the book—
—it says: “This is your grandpa, an old man, 94 years old. It’s time to go home; but I have 13 grandchildren, and the question comes to me: ‘How many of them will follow in my trail? How many will I meet at the judgment seat, where we will all meet someday? To how many will I hear Him say, “Come, ye blessed of the Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world”?’ My prayer is: ‘Lord, please bring all my children and grandchildren with me into glory. I would like to meet them all there.’
Marty: And that was an excerpt from a letter that he wrote to my wife—when she was one of those grandchildren—that she saved. That’s where I got that quote.
Dennis: You know, what he’s really talking about there is what I referred to, at the beginning of the broadcast—Psalm 78. It’s a command to fathers to teach their children, and even the children yet to be born, to arise and teach them to their children, that they would not forget God, and put their trust and faith in Him.
We are to teach the truth about God / the truth of God about life and how He wants us to live. It’s our assignment, as parents, to do that. I’m grateful, Marty, for your book; because this really makes it easier for a mom and a dad or a grandma or a grandpa to be able to open this book and, in a five-minute period, pass on some truth about God to their children. You have no idea how the Holy Spirit will apply that truth to that child’s life.
Bob: There are 71 chapters in the book—short chapters. Like you said, this is something a parent—at the dinner table, or at bedtime, or whenever it works in your schedule—maybe this is something you do as part of the school day for homeschool. These chapters are short, and easy-to-read, and fun, and engaging for your children.
We’ve got copies of Marty Machowski’s book, The Ology—that’s what it is—The Ology: Ancient Truths Ever New. You can order it from us, online, at FamilyLifeToday.com; or you can call 1-800-FL-TODAY to request a copy. Again, the website is FamilyLifeToday.com. The toll-free number is 1-800-FL-TODAY, and the name of the book is The Ology by Marty Machowski.
Now, we want to say a “Happy 16th anniversary!” today to Alex and Erica Rosario, who live in Orlando, Florida—16 years together as husband and wife. “Congratulations!” to the Rosarios. We are all about anniversaries, here at FamilyLife; because we think strong, healthy families are important. Our goal is to effectively develop godly marriages and families; because we believe those marriages and families can change the world, one home at a time.
We are grateful that many of you, as listeners to this program, also share that conviction with us. You believe that what the Bible teaches about marriage and family is our hope in this confused culture. The way we know that is because many of you partner with us so that we can take this message to more and more people, all around the world, every day through radio, through the web, through our resources and our events. Thank you for partnering with us. Thank you for sharing the vision that we have to see every home become a godly home.
This month is a big month for us, here at FamilyLife. As with most ministries, December is critical. A lot of people make yearend giving decisions during this month, and so it becomes very significant for us for that reason. But the other reason is because of the matching-gift opportunity that has been presented to us, here at FamilyLife. Our friend, Michelle Hill, who is our ongoing Matching-Gift Monitor, is here again today. Explain to everybody again about the matching gift, will you?
Michelle: I would be happy to—we’ve had some friends of the ministry who came to us and offered to match every donation we receive during the month of December. They’re actually tripling every donation we receive…so when a listener calls in with a donation of fifty dollars, these folks will issue a hundred dollars in matching funds, and that’s good up to a total of one and a quarter million dollars. And Bob, as of yesterday we’ve heard from over twelve hundred folks, and they’ve given three hundred ninety seven thousand, seven hundred and twenty five dollars!
Bob: And we are grateful for those of you who have made contributions already. Obviously, we want to take full advantage of the matching gift. If you can help with a donation today, would you consider doing that? Go to FamilyLifeToday.com—make a donation online, or call 1-800-FL-TODAY—make your donation over the phone.
Or you can mail your donation to FamilyLife Today at PO Box 7111, Little Rock, AR; and our zip code is 72223.
Now, tomorrow, we’ll talk more about how moms and dads can plant big ideas in the hearts of little children. Marty Machowski’s going to back with us. I hope you can be back here as well.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, along with our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We’ll see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas.
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