Focus 2 (of 4) -Childhood is Particular

Focus 2 | Childhood is Particular

A child won’t learn trust if distracted from their source of love—their guardians.
Consider this ice breaker question to get started.
If you were a dog, what breed would you be?
See what this Spotlight—and series— is focused on.
Tap on the words "Focus 2" in the image below to read this Spotlight's summary.
Let’s talk about security blankets.

Listen to this audio clip when you’re ready to begin today’s Spotlight.
(And welcome, by the way! It’s great that you’re here!)
Reminisce (or, if you still have it, just share) about comfort objects.

Comfort objects are a natural and often helpful part of psychological development during childhood, so you may have had one or know of someone who did. These are things worth smiling about: God gives lots of tools to you as he works to comfort your mind and heart as you develop.

Name a comfort object that you or someone you know used (or uses). If you have one on hand and can show it to the group, that’s great!

*5 Spotlight Points to the person who shares the most unique comfort object.
Take note.
In order for this Spotlight to make sense, you’ll want to move forward (at least tentatively) buying into the following assumptions:

  1. God desires to give, motivated by love.
  2. Children desire to receive, motivated by need.
  3. As they receive, they learn to meet God’s love with trust. 
  4. This is the relationship God dreams of and created you to experience.
  5. Sin and the devil try to mess up 1–3 as often as possible in order to stop 4.

(But don’t fret. God’s promises eat the devil’s plans for lunch.)

Welcome Perspective
In childhood, you learn to relate to love with trust, which is a good thing.
If you separate love from trust, they’re both futile, which is a bad thing.

*Spotlight P
oints mean nothing. If you were trusting that they would and feel unloved because they don’t, have no fear! You’re loved whether you have worthless points or not. (Don’t make Spotlight Points your comfort object…)
Sing it with the song:
“In my Father’s house there’s a place for me. I’m a child of God, yes, I am!” Of course, that phrase would mean very little if it weren’t for the truth embedded in the song’s title: “I am who you say I am.”

Watch the video of the song Who You Say I Am and worship with it. As you do, start to think about the connection between the words “author” and “authority.”
Jesus and his Father got it right.
The 16th psalm in the book of Psalms is a “messianic” psalm. This means that it is basically meant to be read as though Jesus himself is writing it.

Psalm 16 is a prayer from Jesus to God his Father. In the prayer, he…

  1. thanks God for the people around him who are following God.
  2. praises God for being all he needs and for guiding him. 
  3. rejoices in God’s everlasting love that will never let him go—even in death.

Pray along with Jesus, silently, following the prompts below. You’ll go one section at a time. Once you’ve finished one section, assuming everyone in your group is ready, move on to the next.

Keep me safe, my God, for in you I take refuge.
I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing.”
I say of the holy people who are in the land,
“They are the noble ones in whom is all my delight.”
Those who run after other gods will suffer more and more.
I will not pour out libations of blood to such gods or take up their names on my lips.
Psalm 16:1–4

Pray that you can find the refuge God is providing through those in authority over you.

Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure.
The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
surely I have a delightful inheritance.
I will praise the Lord, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me.
I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.
Psalm 16:5-8

Pray that God will provide guidance and satisfaction to you.

Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure,
because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead,
nor will you let your faithful one see decay.
You make known to me the path of life;
you will fill me with joy in your presence,
with eternal pleasures at your right hand.
Psalm 16:9-11

Praise God for providing a way for you through Jesus, the perfect child of God who shares his perfection with you.
Acknowledge that it’s hard to get this right in an imperfect world.

One of the ways sin tries to turn everything upside down and wreck God’s good plans is by reversing the relationship between love and trust. God intends to love you first, and he’s done so in a million ways.

Pain, lies, evil, hatred, injustice, poverty, and death can all make it seem like God isn’t loving, but those are the results of sin. God has given an eternal solution to all of those, so much so that our present pain will seem like nothing compared to God’s eternal good.

Sin tries to convince you that you need to trust first, and if you’re good enough at looking in faith to God he’ll approve of you and you can have a good relationship. That’s like a mother waiting to love her baby until it grows up to be the president. It’s not the plan. It’s not how things were meant to work.

Pride, fear, selfishness, worry, control, and skepticism can all make it seem like it’s up to you, but those are the results of sin turning your eyes away from God. When you want to be the author and you want authority, you make yourself the first mover in the story - but everyone who tries to do that finds it impossible. God is already there, waiting with loving and open arms.

Pray along with the song “Dear God” as songwriter Cory Asbury reflects on the pain of living with this backward mentality.
Worship Perspective
A loving author uses his authority to write trust’s story.

Watch how quickly this gets messed up.
Somewhat famously, God gave his ancient people 10 Commandments. The most unique one of them is the 4th (some count it as the 5th—it doesn’t matter. It comes near the middle and it’s helpful.) It goes like this:

Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.
Exodus 20:12

This commandment is unique because it is the only one of the ten that has a promise connected to it. It’s not just a command, it’s a command that comes with a promise that impacts one’s entire life.

If I were the devil, and I saw that this command has potential to yield life-long awareness of the fact that God gives a person good things… I’d want to get in the way of this command happening.

To do that, the devil uses a variety of manifestations of this progression:

If you want to ruin a life,
mess with a childhood.

If you want to mess with a childhood,
make it hard for a child to trust.

If you want to make it hard for a child to trust,
separate them from their sources of love.

If you want to separate them from their sources of love,
turn authority into a selfish action.

Discuss the ways that sin and the devil transform loving authority into selfish action.

(To be clear, the question is this: How does the devil corrupt authority figures in the following areas in order to hurt a child’s ability to trust?)

  • …when it comes to a child’s sense of basic security, i.e. food, clothing, shelter, etc.
  • …when it comes to the issue of disciplining a child.
  • …when it comes to the development of a child’s sexual self.
  • …when it comes to the purposes and methods used for a child’s education. 
Drill down a little further on the topic of discipline.

Discipline your children, for in that there is hope;
do not be a willing party to their death.
Proverbs 19:18

Whoever spares the rod hates their children,
but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them.
Proverbs 13:24

Fathers, do not exasperate your children;
instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.
Ephesians 6:4

You can see from these verses that God endorses the idea of discipline in the Bible, but you certainly know from stories and experience that discipline can be abhorrently abused.

Agree or Disagree? Why? (Don’t forget the why!)

  • Discipline is more about teaching a child to make good choices than it is about developing a child’s trust in those in authority. 
  • Discipline, with all its complexities, shows the ways that God's love is at the heart of all he does.
  • Disciplinary actions may seem unkind to the one receiving them, but they simply aren’t (and certainly shouldn't be.)
  • Discipline is only truly effective within a trusting relationship. 
  • It’s easier to discipline with fear than with love, but it is exponentially better to discipline with love than fear. 
Appreciate just how much a child’s trust can be tested.
Childhood faces a very particular complication every time the people a child is supposed to trust aren’t trustworthy. It is especially true for children that they can be made victims by the actions of others—at no fault of their own.

This video from Save the Children depicts a child navigating the Syrian civil war and the subsequent refugee crisis.

Learn Perspective
Love and trust can try, but both languish when there is no relationship.
Check out Illume’s Treehouse fundraiser page.
Visit to view Illume’s effort.

Take this opportunity—yet another way to serve others.

Alongside the fundraiser, you’re invited to donate comfort objects that will be shared with local caseworkers to offer to children who are victims of abuse and neglect as they transition into foster care.

Practice explaining discipline to a child.

While nearly everyone has experienced discipline, there are many who aren’t able to explain why discipline can help or what can make it good.

Here is a rubber duck visiting Seattle in December. (Ask me how I know…)

Physicist Richard Feynman built on a saying attributed to Albert Einstein—“you don’t know something well if you can’t explain it to a child”—by devising a test for himself that he used whenever he was trying to learn something new or increase his understanding of something. 

The basic steps of Feynman’s technique are:
  1. State what you want to learn about.
  2. Explain it to an actual child, or to a rubber duck sitting on your desk. 
  3. Identify gaps in your explanation. 
  4. Now you know where you need to learn more!

Give it a try—as a group if you’re in one—by following the above steps. (Here’s the answer to Number 1 for a head-start: “I want to understand why discipline can help and what makes it good.”)
Feel free to submit a prayer request by filling out the below form.
(If you choose to make your request public, you'll see it display in the Current at the end of the Spotlight along with anyone else who did the same.)

Prayer Requests

Pray through your requests—together—as a group.
After submitting your requests in the above form, take some time to share with your group whatever requests the group might have for this week.
Serve Perspective
Keeping track of the relational thread can help childhood make more sense.
Say a prayer for children whose security is being challenged.

The song “Say a Prayer” by Sara Groves considers particularly those children who are victims of injustice that their parents face, but as you close out this Spotlight, use it as a chance to pray for the security of all children whenever authority breaks down.

God loves these children, and he gives authority in the spirit of that love. His heart breaks for those who are harmed when his authority is abused. This is why, in Jesus, he became the ultimate victim of misused authority—to bear this burden with and for every child.

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.
Philippians 2:5–7
Say a Prayer by Sara Groves

Childhood runs across the meadow,
taken in the night,
told it will be working in the city for a while.

Staring from the windows,
leaning in the door
flickering like a candle, lying on the floor.

Say a prayer, say a prayer in the night.
Say a prayer, say a prayer in the night.

Childhood working with your papa,
chained to your mom.
This is all you live for, debts that linger on.

Bearing all the glory, bearing all the weight.
Knowledge of such hardship
at such a tender age…

Say a prayer, say a prayer in the night.
Say a prayer, say a prayer in the night.
Sing along with (or listen to) this song to close out this Spotlight.
Feel free to sing along or simply listen. Do what makes you comfortable—but do whatever helps you focus on the song's meaning best.
Farewell Perspective
Sin makes childhood hard, but God in love still tries to help each child to trust.
Let's wrap things up by taking a look at what's Current at Illume.
Tap on the buttons in the frame below to see what’s currently happening at Illume—information on everything from current and upcoming online content to live events and opportunities to serve in the community can all be found here.

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