7 Ways To Help Your Child Know The Bible

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One of the more memorable parts of my wife’s and my day is the bedtime routine with our elementary-aged children.

Included in the pajamas, teeth-brushing, lotion, hair-combed and tucked into bed is the reading time we have with them. A silly, fictional book is read and then a chapter from their age-appropriate Bible is read (the one we read can be found here).

With each chapter read in their kids Bible, we also ask questions about what they thought in response to what was read and they ask questions about God and God’s people. Now that they’re getting older, they’re starting to read the Bible to us.

At lunch after worship each Sunday we sit down at the family table and discuss what every one learned in their teaching time earlier that day. At night during dinner throughout the week our kids have thoughts and questions about God that we freely discuss.

Our goal as parents is to have the Bible be a consistent, natural, helpful and enjoyable part of our family culture.

In the same way we like going on family walks, jumping on the trampoline in the backyard, kicking the soccer ball, building legos, watching movies – we talk about the Bible together.

Now, making the Bible an integral part of your family culture is not dad and mom forcing God’s Word into the minds of your kids like a psychology experiment gone wrong. In our conversations we don’t want to tell our kids forcibly what to do as much we want to share the Bible with them and allow them to think about what they believe and how they choose to behave.

(And in reality, we can share the Bible all we want and hope they believe what we do about it, but our daily example – our daily witness for Christ – is what will motivate them to love Jesus above all as they get older).

But when it comes to reading the Bible, my prayerful desire is my children see it as an exciting, privileged act of worship (what Jesus commanded us when He told us to love God with all of our mind).

For dads and moms wanting Bible-reading and Bible-sharing to be part of their family culture, here are 7 principles that can be helpful.

(ONE) Start reading the Bible with your child as soon as possible.

Before our children could speak or comprehend words, we were reading the Bible to them.

As they begin to understand God’s wisdom and our family values, it’s been amazing to see the Holy Spirit be the third parent in our leadership, assisting our young children to know God through the reading of the Scriptures.

2 Timothy 3:15 says, You have been taught the holy Scriptures from childhood, and they have given you the wisdom to receive the salvation that comes by trusting in Christ Jesus.

(TWO) Look daily for teachable moments that connect life and the Bible.

Reading the Bible is not one compartmentalized area of our day, and then after reading it, we go on and don’t think of it again. Reading Scripture is not a box to check and then forget.

There are teachable moments every day where God’s Spirit provides the parent to influence and encourage a child’s thinking and behavior with the timeless truths of the Bible.

Deuteronomy 6:6-7 says, You must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up.

Every night at the dinner table there are opportunities to speak about the truth of Scripture when a child discusses their day – what we can thank God for and where we can ask for God’s help. Each conversation with a child can include what friends are emotionally-healthy and what kind of forgiver your child can be towards those who are hurtful people.

(THREE) The Christian parent should have a biblical-worldview at home.

How much better a home is when each family member thinks with a biblical worldview?

If the parents are responding with their opinions or their emotions, so will the children.
If the parents are living their lives looking like the culture around them in all things, so will the children.

But, as the Christian dad and mom grow in their understanding of the Bible, they can lay out family values that are Bible-centered.

Proverbs 1:8 says, My child, listen when your father corrects you. Don’t neglect your mother’s instruction.

On the wall of our home is a framed list of our family cultural values. Those values are: 

Obey Scripture (Bible)
Loyalty to Love Ones (Forgiveness)
Work Earnestly (Integrity) 
Tell the Truth (Repentance) 
Be Kind (Jesus)
Have Fun (Live life to the fullest)

(FOUR) Talk about specific, practical matters and relate them to God’s view.

The gold parents in the book of Proverbs discuss every day topics and issues with their children and instruct and redeem them to God’s view.

Talking about healthy friendships (Proverbs 1:10-16; 4:14) 
Talking about school work and part-time jobs (Proverbs 6:10-11; 10:5)
Talking about sex (Proverbs 5:1-22; 6:24-26; 7:1-27; 29:3; 31:1-3)
Talking about money (Proverbs 15:27)
Talking about alcohol (Proverbs 31:4)
Talking about food (Proverbs 28:7)
Taking about unhealthy language (Proverbs 4:24; 20:20; 23:15-16; 30:11; 31:28)

How galvanizing would it be for a parent to choose a verse in the Bible that deals with an issue their child is going through, and together, the parent and child memorize that verse together or write it down and set it on the walls of their home?

(FIVE) Set the example. 

I have a daily discipline to read the Bible each day, not because a church leader told me to do it when I was a child, but because I would run downstairs in the morning and see my mother reading her Bible on the living room sofa or stop by the office to surprise my father and see him reading his Bible at work.

It’s fine if you want to read the Bible on an app on your phone, but your kids could see you doing that, they’ll assume you’re checking social media, organizing your fantasy football team or trying to figure out the next new family meal to make.

When you own a Bible you can hold, write in, cherish – your kids can see the Bible is a part of your daily lives (and maybe they’re accidentally catch you in the act of reading and studying it).

I recommend getting a study Bible (found here) that allows you to go a bit deeper than just reading comprehension.

(SIX) Make the Bible fun. 

Kids like to show their parents what they know. Why not have a Bible quiz over what is being read at night to them daily and what they’re learning in their church weekly?

Why not get the Legos out and build a Bible account with them from their imagination?

Why not write a Bible account into a play and get dressed up in costumes and act it out?

When I wrestle with my kids I pretend I’m Goliath and their David and they take me down every time.

If your kids are older and too cool for playtime, simply the excitement of what you are reading in your Bible can be shared with them. A HUGE parenting win is when the pre-teen or teen reads something or learns something in the Bible and they can’t wait to share it with their parent(s). That’s fun parenting. 

(SEVEN) Rinse and repeat.

My wife and I are preparing and praying about having the “sex” talk with our oldest child. When we do, we won’t just have it once. We’re going to introduce what sex is to her, but we will then continue to talk about sex repeatedly. 

Because of inexperience, many times a dad or mom will get the prayerful courage to share Scripture with a loved one and then move and and never revisit the wisdom shared, hoping the child remembers what they said forever.

Sharing Scripture, even the same ones, need to be done over and over and over and over. Rinse and repeat.

In order for a biblical worldview to stick in your child, they need to hear and see biblical principles and Bible verses all over their lives.

How is your daily Bible reading and study?
How is the daily Bible reading of your child?

How much are you talkign about the truth of God’s Word in your daily conversations?

Thanks for reading. Be sure to make time for God’s Word and make time discussing it with others.

Z

Practical Ways a Father Can Have a Lasting Legacy

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Let’s do a bit of an exercise. At first, it’ll seem a bit morbid, but hang with me because I think it’s eye-opening.

This exercise isn’t something I came up with, it’s been around for a while. It’s called The Eulogy Exercise. It comes from the book by Steven Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Covey walks the reader through this hypothetical scenario:

Imagine you are going to a funeral. 

You pull up to the parking lot where the funeral location is (a church building or a funeral home ). You park, get out of the car, walk into the building as other people who are dressed up are walking in. You smell fresh cut flowers as you enter into the lobby. There’s a fresh aroma sprayed all over the room. You take a free mint offered. 

You look around and you begin to recognize people. And not just acquaintances, but close friends and family members who are also at the funeral. 

It’s visitation hours, so people are in line to walk by the casket of the deceased to pay their respects. You get up to the casket and when you look down, it’s you that is laying there, dead.

You are attending your own funeral. 

The date on the program isn’t 50 years from now. This funeral, your funeral, is just three years from today.

You go into the sanctuary where people are sitting awaiting for the ceremony to begin and as you look on the program, there are going to be four people who will be speaking at your funeral.

Four people will be sharing about you and how you lived your life. 

Person #1: A family member

The first person that is going to speak at your funeral is a family member. It could be a spouse, a parent, a child, a sibling. It will be a family member who knew you very well. 

Person #2: A close friend

The second person that is going to speak is going to be one of your close friends. Maybe a childhood friend or a friend from high school, a college roommate, a friend from the neighborhood. They’ve spent time with you and know you. They’ve been through the ups and downs with you. 

Person #3: Someone from work

The third person speaking will be someone from your job, or if still in school, a teacher or a coach. It’s someone who sees you during the week. They’ve seen how you celebrate and encourage others. They see how you handle stress.

Person #4: Someone from church

The fourth person to speak is someone from your church, if you have a church family. They see how much you choose to attend. They see how you serve. They’ve watched how you worship. 

Four people.
A family member.
A close friend.
A co-worker.
Someone who was in the same church as you. 

And the big question is: What would you like each of these people to say about you?

This is the point of the exercise: Covey coined it as this: Beginning with the end in mind. 

If we think of what we would want those in our daily lives to say about us when we return to dust, we then can look at how we are living in the present to go after that desired legacy. 

Here are some practical steps every dad can take to cement a life-changing, positive legacy with his children: 

Smile in photos taken with the family. 

What is it with dads not smiling in family photos? Dad looks grumpy with his wife. He looks serious with his kids. How he feels towards his loved one is not how he shows it in pictures. Sure he loves them, but in pictures it doesn’t seem that way. 

I don’t care if dad was in the military, or still thinks he’s taking a football team picture, or if he thinks he has bad teeth or if his favorite team just lost or if he’s had a bad day – smile. 

Send the message from your heart of love towards these people to your mouth when pictures are being taken. 

Because, when dad dies, his kids will only have pictures to look at to remember him. If those pictures look like dad was serious or harsh because he didn’t smile, that’s the legacy he’s going to write long after he’s gone. 

Have evenings of focused one-on-one time.

Life is full. Life is packed. Kids grow fast. When the child gets off the bus or when dad gets home from work, there isn’t much time together. 

What a dad can do is carve out intentional, one-on-one time with the child. 

Whether it’s father-son or daddy-daughter, nights out or date nights need to be set and kept. 

Every year, 12 times a year, once a month, I take each of my children out separately. Just me and them. Sometimes it’s dinner when we get dressed up and all fancy. Sometimes it’s ice cream. Sometimes you go bowling with them. Sometimes I surprise them at their school and have lunch with them. Sometimes it’s a long walk so we can talk and catch up on their view of the family, of God, of life, of their emotions. 

When I am just with them, we’ll laugh and talk about our day, but, there are also some heart-to-heart questions that I ask. 

How are you feeling being a part of this family?
Do you feel included?
Do you feel heard?
How is school going?
Is there anything challenging happening?
Are there any frustrations in your life right now that I can offer some advise on or pray about? 

And you let them talk. And after you are gone, dad, they’ll remember the time spent and the wisdom shared. Your legacy will live on. 

As best as possible at night, ignore screens until the kids are asleep. 

If children are great at one thing, they are great at exaggerating. Children naturally use words like always and never. 

So, if dad is on his phone for work or for fun, when a child wants to talk to dad or play with dad, all it takes is two instances where the kid sees dad looking at a phone and then the child thinks, Dad never plays with me (even when he does), or, Dad is always on his phone (even though he’s not).

Perception is reality to them. 

My family and I attended a volleyball game at a junior high school a few months ago. Some friends of ours were playing in and attending the game. We were there to cheer them on. 

Two rows in front of my wife and I was a father of a child playing in the volleyball game. And for the majority of the game, he was watching on his phone his favorite college football team play their game. 

And I saw his daughter look at him multiple times as he was looking at a screen. She saw that he would rather watch strangers play a game than his daughter play in hers. 

Dad, be present. 

Yes there is work. Yes there are emails. Yes there are fun things to watch on TV. Yes we have the habit of checking social media every five minutes. Those can all wait (they might be highjacking your legacy at home). 

From the time you get home to the time they are finally asleep, try to look at them, not a screen. 

Treat his wife with kindness and respect. 

The way dad consistently treats his wife shows any son he has how to treat women and any daughter he has how to be treated by a man. You’ve heard that. 

But, in addition, when there is unrest in the home, the children internalize it. They invite the stress of a marriage into their life and it goes with them into their school, activities and relationships. 

It’s when dad yells at his wife. It’s when dad puts down his wife. It’s when dad is giving the cold shoulder to his wife. It’s when dad would rather have nights out with his buddies than take his wife out. The children see this. They feel it. They think it’s normal even though they don’t like it. 

Dad needs to serve his wife. He needs to uplift her with words of encouragement. He needs to thank her in front of the children for all she does in the family and in the home. He needs to come alongside her when she makes decisions for the children. He needs to take her out on dates and text her romantic stuff during the day because a happy wife and mother also has a key impact on the children. Dad can help with that. 

[Sidenote: If dad is divorced/unmarried to the child’s mother, he must not speak ill of her. Even if she takes the low road when speaking of him. Without her, dad doesn’t have the joy of loving his children, so even when difficult, uplift the child’s mother.]

Put God first in his life and in the home’s life. 

After dad has died, it leaves a hole in the heart of a child that never fully heals. It is difficult to lose a parent. You think about it every day. You miss them every day. For me, with a father gone for over 6 years, the only thing that has gotten me through it is leaning on God, my heavenly Father. 

I have that relationship with God because my father did first. My father wasn’t the person of love he was because of his self-effort. He was loving toward me because of God changing his heart and working through him to effectively serve and graciously care for us kids. 

God is first in our household. I am not the leader of our home. God is. I am not the decision-maker of our home. God is. When we are hurt, we pray. When we are stressed, we open the Bible and write verses on our bathroom mirrors to calm our anxiety. When we are afraid, we remind each other to trust God. 

Our schedule doesn’t get in the way of family dinners where we pray and talk about what we’re grateful to God about. Our hobbies do not get in the way of worship on Sunday mornings. As a family, we actively serve in the church we are involved in. Our children know that my wife and I read our Bibles each morning. 

After dad is gone, his legacy of how he leaned on God daily in his life will be the driving force they need to press on into the life God has in store for them without dad. 

Smile in photos taken with the family.
Have evenings of focused one-on-one time.
As best as possible, no screens until the kids are asleep.
Treat his wife with kindness and respect.
Put God first in his life and in the home’s life. 

Doing these things consistently, by beginning with the end in mind, allows dad’s legacy to be a positive one that outlives his physical life into generations of his family. 

Thanks for reading. You are loved. 

Z