The Gospel and Geocaching

Geocaching is an outdoor treasure hunting game using a geocache app on GPS-enabled devices, like a smartphone. Participants navigate to a specific set of GPS coordinates and then attempt to find the geocache (container) someone has hidden around that location. Unlike traditional treasure hunting, geocaching is more about the hunt than it is the treasure. In most cases, once the treasure is found, the treasure seeker simply records his/her name, leaves the treasure where it was found, and moves on to the next treasure cache.

Grandparenting can be a lot like geocaching. While our grandchildren are grand treasures to us, we must be careful not to forget what the real treasure is. Gospel-shaped grandparents intentionally seek a greater treasure—that our precious grandchildren will know the treasure of being made alive in Christ and the all-satisfying delight of living to the praise of His glory.

It is true that a new grandchild born into our family is a treasure. But we dare not forget the sad reality that every human being born into this world is born with a sin nature. It is easy to forget that when we gaze into the cherub faces of a newborn grandchild, or as we revel in the enjoyment and memorable moments with young grandchildren. We must not forget that they, like the rest of us, need the life-giving transformation that only Christ can provide.

The ultimate treasure we seek for these treasures delivered into our families is that they one day know and embrace the truth of the Gospel of Christ. If we do not seek that treasure for them, we are like geocachers who find a treasure, but then walk away without it. “Oh, that’s nice. Let’s see what else is out there.”

On the other hand, grandparents can serve much like the GPS system used in geocaching. We point them to the treasure that is available to those who seek and understand what a treasure it is. We do that by praying for them and with them, sharing the story of reality found only in the Bible, and by living a life that says what we profess to believe is evident in how we live.

Which means we know what we believe and why. Some say that is not the ‘treasure’ that is important, only the journey of seeking. And since there are many ‘treasures’ to be found, why stop with only one. Keep seeking and discover the joy of lots of different treasures—like geocache treasure hunters do.

That may work for geocaching where none of the treasures have any eternal significance. In the game of life, the treasure our grandchildren seek matters. We are responsible to point them to the true treasure and teach them to understand the significance of this treasure. They also need to know why no other so-called treasure can offer eternal life.

Godly grandparents want to provide a spiritual impact upon their grandchildren. Whether you do or not, is up to you. Do you want these treasured members of your family to find the treasure of all treasures—Christ, our Redeemer and Friend, or will they see no reason to believe it is the treasure we claim it to be?

[BTW, geocaching could be a great activity to do with your grandchildren, and to use it to talk about the difference between the kind of treasures being sought in geocaching and the true treasure of Christ’s love and grace. For more information about geocaching, click here.]

GRANDPAUSE: Thy love is most unsearchable, and dazzles all above; They gaze, but cannot count or tell the treasures of Thy love! -Charles Wesley

You may also view this post on the Gospel Shaped Family website.

Setting the Pace for Grandkids

Impacting the Faith of Future Generations Through Family Devotions

I LOVE having my grandkids at my house for an overnight!  We watch movies, eat popcorn and stay up late playing card games.  It brings joy to my heart to love on these children.  But I know my “job” as a grandmother goes far deeper.  I have been called by the Lord to impact their young hearts for Him.  I cannot assume they will follow in my footsteps in the faith.

Do you know that 75% of children raised in Christian churches leave the church by the age of 25 (Barna, Transforming Children into Spiritual Champions)? These are the children who go to Sunday School every Sunday and become the leaders of their Youth Group. Yet statistics show once they live independently from their home, often they abandon their church and their faith.

Studies reveal that parents modeling and teaching their faith in the home are the number one influence encouraging their children to keep their faith.  Grandparents are a close second.  Surprisingly, youth pastors are a distant third source of impact. 

Yes, we grandparents have been assigned by the Lord the eternally important job of passing to our grandchildren our faith in Jesus Christ.

The question, then, for grandparents is how do we effectively impact the hearts of our grandchildren?  One of the most powerful ways is reading the Bible together.  I call these times “Family Devotions”.  These moments include reading a Bible story followed by prayer time.  Oh, I know life is hectic and busy.  It is easy to think we cannot cram one more thing into a day.  But time together in the presence of the Lord is invaluable.  It is worth every minute and every effort.  It builds a legacy of faith.

We begin our family time with one or two familiar songs. Next, we read our story.  As my grandchildren age, I transition from Bible storybooks to the Bible.  We talk for a few minutes about the meaning of the story.  Usually, I ask three questions.  What does this story (or passage) say about God?  What does it say about me?  What does it say about my relationship with God?  In the closing moments of our Devotions, we grab hands and pray.  Our prayers consist of some “thank you’s” followed by some “please help us, Lord, with …”.  The children often fill in the blanks.

It sounds easy, doesn’t it?  Actually, it is.  Effective Family Devotions doesn’t require a long time.  Usually, shorter is better.  BUT we all have an Enemy who will diligently attempt to thwart the time between a grandparent and his grandchild in the presence of the Lord.  I know!  Personally, I struggle with this discipline.  Often, I am the one who is nodding off.  Not my four or five-year-old grandchild.

However, I am determined to stand strong.  I long to leave to my children and grandchildren a legacy of loving God’s Word.  One day, when I am in the full presence of the Lord and my family remains on the face of this earth, my prayer is that they will pick up their Bibles.  As the pace had been set in our Family Devotions, may they gather their family remembering the moments I read and prayed with them.  

 “Teach them to your children and to their children after them.”
Deuteronomy 4:9

“Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.”
Proverbs 22:6

What’s the Gospel?

There is no more important message to understand in life than the gospel. Yet, for many Christians there is a fog of confusion that surrounds the gospel. If someone says the gospel is the way of Jesus, the kingdom of God, positive thinking, or compassion toward others would you be able to explain why each of these explanations of the gospel is insufficient? The gospel has been the recipient of massive distortions and over simplifications. In relation to the gospel you should have a four-fold aim: (1) clearly understand it, (2) concisely explain it, (3) culturally connect it, and (4) confidently proclaim it.

Greg Gilbert wrote a helpful book called What is the Gospel where he used four words to summarize the gospel: God, man, Christ, and response. Remembering these four will help us understand, explain, and proclaim the gospel. The gospel is the good news because it addressed the most serious problem that humans have. R.C. Sproul summarizes this problem by saying, “God is holy and He is just, and I’m not.” Here is the gospel in a nutshell.

God is creator and he is holy. He is perfect. He has not sinned. He is just; he will not ignore or excuse the sin of others. The Bible teaches that all humans are accountable to God. He created us; therefore, he can demand we worship him.

Man has rebelled against God. We have placed ourselves on the throne of life. Romans 1:23 says we have exchanged the glory of God for idols. We are glory thieves, yet God will not share his glory with another. We have fallen short of God’s demand for perfection. At the end of your life you will stand before a just and holy God and be judged on the basis of your righteousness. Romans 3:19 says that when we stand before the judge, every mouth will be silenced. No one will offer a defense or any excuses. That is a sobering image. You have rebelled against a holy God that created you. That is the bad news.

The good news of the gospel is that Jesus lived a perfect life of righteousness and offered himself as a perfect sacrifice to satisfy the justice of God. God’s solution to humanity’s sin is the death and resurrection of Jesus. We can be saved from the condemnation our sin deserves through redemption in Jesus (Romans 3:24). The gospel is news, not advice. It is news that something has happened and we must respond to it. All religions are advice.

A response by faith is needed. The great lie of our day is that God forgives everybody; that he is a loving God who sweeps our sins under the carpet and grants forgiveness to those who are good people. The Bible is clear that we are not justified by our works, our efforts, our deeds, but by faith alone. Salvation comes “through faith in Jesus Christ” and it is “for all who believe” (Romans 3:22). How is the good news for you? Believe in Jesus Christ and repent of your sins. When you do that you are declared righteous by God, you are adopted into his family, and forgiven of all your sins. God acted in Jesus to save us and we take hold of that salvation by repentance of sin through faith in Jesus. That’s good news. And that is the gospel.

In Jesus Name, Amen: The Most Powerful Words You Can Say

A gospel shaped parent or grandparent is a praying person because there is the recognition that we are powerless to change a heart and are completely dependent upon God. I am reminded of Paul’s words in 1 Thessalonians 1:2, “We give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers.”

The most powerful words you can ever say on behalf of your family are the words, “In Jesus name, Amen.” Click To Tweet

The most powerful words you can ever say on behalf of your family are the words, “In Jesus name, Amen.” There are plenty of excuses not to pray such as busyness, short attention span, or lack of desire. If you are not praying daily for your children, grandchildren and future generations, then may these voices from the past encourage you to make prayer a priority:

  • “God does nothing but by prayer, and everything with it.” John Wesley
  • “No duty is more earnestly impressed upon us in Scripture than the duty of continual communion with Him.” David McIntyre
  • “Prayer does not fit us for the greater work; prayer is the greater work.” Oswald Chambers
  • “Prayer is the forerunner of mercy. Turn to sacred history, and you will find that scarecely ever did a great mercy come to this world unheralded by supplication.” Charles Spurgeon
  • “Next to the wonder of seeing my Savior will be, I think, the wonder that I made so little use of the power of prayer.”  D.L. Moody
  • “The greatest tragedy in life is not unanswered prayer, but unoffered prayer.” F.B. Meyer
  • “The devil is aware that one hour of close fellowship, hearty converse with God in prayer, is able to pull down what he hath been contriving and building many a year.” John Flavel
  • “There is no way that Christians, in a private capacity, can do so much to promote the work of God and advance the kingdom of Christ as by prayer.” Jonathan Edwards
  • “As it is the business of tailors to make clothes, and the business of cobblers to mend shoes, so it is the business of Christians to pray!” Martin Luther
  • “Search for a person who claims to have found Christ apart from someone else’s prayer, and your search may go on forever.” E. Bauman

Blessed is the child or grandchild that has a praying parent and grandparent. What families need today are not new and novel methods, but people who are mighty in prayer. God is able to do immeasurable more than we imagine. Through prayer God can transform the hardest heart or restore the most challenging relationship.