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

What Every Parent Should Be Downloading Into Their Child (1,900 words of parenting advice)

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Back in the day when I was a pre-teen, I used to make mixtapes. Those born in 1990 or later probably don’t know what a mixtape is. A mixtape is a cassette tape (Google it) with favorite songs inserted on it to listen to. It’s an archaic Pandora playlist. It took tremendous patience and focus to make the perfect mixtape.

I would lay on my bedroom floor, next to something called a boombox (a radio that played music through speakers), I’d have my radio playing and I would wait for some of my favorite songs to come on so I could record them onto this tape. 

You had to be coordinated. You had to hit play and record at the same time, and you didn’t want the DJ’s voice on the tape, just the song. 

I had all kinds of mixtapes. I had love song mixtapes I’d give to girls I had a crush on. I’d leave the mixtape in their school locker with a creepy, cheesy note attached. For sports, I had mixtapes that would insert into my Dad’s yellow Sony Walkman to pump me up. On my sports mixtape to get me stoked I had “Eye of the Tiger” by Survivor, “Jump” by Van Halen, “Momma Said Knock You Out” by LL Cool J and anything Michael Jackson.

I know that mixtapes are a thing of the past. With technology today, you can download any song that’s ever been recorded and you can make all kinds of playlists on your smartphone. And whether you like to listen to it while you’re in the car, or while at work or school, or exercising, or just chill’n with friends, it can’t be taken for granted what those who came before endured through in the mixtape years. 

Today my young child can grab my phone, open up my music, download new songs she  likes, delete songs she doesn’t like (my favorite songs) and make a playlist. In seconds she can do it. 

As a parent, I realize that my children are being lied to wherever they go. They are downloading lies other influences are pushing on them, and if unchecked, they will start to believe those lies as truth. One of my roles as a guide for them is to delete the lies that they download each day and replace it with truth. 

Mom, dad, grandparents, aunt, uncle, youth leader, teacher, influencers of young children and grown children, here’s what will happen if we don’t get proactive in deleting the lies this culture is pressing down on our children:  

They will be mugged by the mirror. 

We’re in the selfie generation. The reason everyone is taking selfies is to show others how they look. And maybe each time you look in the mirror, each time you take a picture of yourself, you’re asking the fairy tale question, Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all? The more we invest in how we look, the more we believe the lie that we are worth the amount of how beautiful others say we are. 

In her book, I Want to be Her, author Michelle Graham writes this: “There’s nothing quite like a glance at a Victoria’s Secret catalog to invoke a flood of insecurities and feelings of disappointment.”

Graham goes onto say: 

If Barbie were a real human being, her proportions would make her anywhere from 6 feet 10 inches to 7 feet 5 inches tall. In order to achieve her perfect figure, she would need to have two ribs removed along with several major organs. Barbie has no hormonal cycle to affect her complexion and no metabolism to struggle with. This is the image that has been marketed to young girls all over the world as an inspiration to womanhood. And we eat it up. Barbie has become a $1.5 billion dollar a year industry. Don’t worry, I’m not on a Barbie-burning crusade. And I’m certainly no expert on the psychological effects of Barbie on young children. But I do know that at a very young age I bought into the idea that unless my Barbie was physically perfect, she wasn’t as good as the other Barbies on the block. In fact she embarrassed me. As I grew into adulthood, I left my Barbie behind. Unfortunately I struggled with the belief that unless I am physically perfect (a perfection that is unattainable and unrealistic) – I’m somehow not as valuable as everybody else. Barbie moved out, but Victoria moved in.”

A recent study shows that 70% of teenage girls and women feel depressed, sad or guilty when they look through a fashion magazine for more than 3 minutes.

Americans spend 20 billion dollars a year on cosmetics and 74 billion dollars a year on diet foods.

Just flip the remote control and the TV will tell you that outer appearance is what’s most important. It’s why you post more pictures of yourself online than you do Bible verses.

Because I’m a father of girls, I have a passion for all young girls to find their purpose in God and not in what others think of them. Girls, you may not know this, but an average woman in our culture is 5 foot 4 and weighs 170 pounds. An average model on the runway 5 foot 11 and they weigh 108 pounds and their body mass index is borderline malnutrition. 

Because of photoshop and airbrushing, what we look at in magazines and on the big screen is a fake. It’s not real. It’s all a lie. Delete the lie that external beauty is all there is.

Let’s download the truth that God loves you no matter what you look like. God created you the way He wanted to and to get where God wants you to go to love on who God wants you to love on (which includes yourself). You’re beautiful.

If they listen to the wrong voice, not only will they be mugged by the mirror, but: 

They will be pick-pocketed by the past. 

Your child failed the test. They stole what they shouldn’t of. They drank. They smoked. They lied to their parents. They feel responsible for their parent’s broken marriage. They succumb to sex, hurtful language, gossip, back-stabbing, anger etc. Even my own past tries to walk into each present day I have in an attempt to steal the future God has in store. 

But if you download the love of God into your child’s daily life, how much He loves you and them no matter what’s been done against Him and against others, then they’ll come to realize that our past does not define your present or your future.

You are not what you have done. Whatever it is that haunts you, whatever secret things you’ve done that no one else knows, that your close friends, your youth leaders, your parents, your siblings have no idea – and if you’ve been listening to the wrong voice about what you’ve done – then you’ve probably bought into the lie that God couldn’t love you, or God couldn’t forgive you. 

The one true God doesn’t only forgive people, He frees them. I don’t want the joy and energy and faith that my kids have as a child to be pick-pocketed by reminders of their past mistakes. Author Joanna Weaver writes:

“My deepest fear is waking up twenty years from now still the same person I am today. With the same annoying habits and petty attitudes; with the same besetting sins and false beliefs. I can’t imagine anything more terrible than getting to the end of my life only to discover that God had so much more in mind for me – more freedom, more joy, more peace, more true effectiveness. And I had missed it all, simply because I refused to believe it.” 

Don’t be mugged by the mirror and think external looks is all there is.
Don’t be pick-pocketed by the past and lose your joy in Christ. 

A third lie our children and us will download if not exposed to the truth: 

They will be robbed by relationships. 

Relationships are hard work, right? They can wear you out, make you tired. 

As if I didn’t already date myself with all the talk about mixtapes, let me talk about a woman named Louise Ciccone. Maybe you know her as Madonna. She’s sold over 300 million albums of her music worldwide. She’s worth an estimated 500 million dollars. TIME Magazine listed her as one of the 25 most powerful and influential women of the last 100 years. 

When she was a little girl, her mom died. Her dad quickly remarried and she didn’t forgive him for that. She severed all ties with him as her father and ran away. And I think the reason why Madonna, still in her 50’s, has always jumped from one man to the next is because she was robbed of a relationship she didn’t have with her father when she was young. 

After a concert in Detroit, in an interview with Vanity Fair a few years back, Madonna said: I have an iron will, and all of my will has always been to conquer some horrible feelings of inadequacy. I push past one spell of it and discover myself as a special human being and then I get to another stage and think I’m mediocre and uninteresting. Again and again I go through this vicious cycle. My drive in life is from this horrible fear of being mediocre. And that’s always pushing me, pushing me. Because even though I’ve become somebody, I still have to prove that I’m somebody. My struggle has never ended and it probably never will.

Life doesn’t have to be that way. 

If the statistics are right, many of our teens are being robbed by a relationship with a parent. Mom and Dad haven’t or aren’t doing something for them that parents are supposed to do. I don’t know what is more tragic than a parent who doesn’t love their kid in a way God loves them, and I don’t want to downplay this possibility,  so if you’re from a broken home, if you’re in a tough home, and maybe there have been hurtful things said back and forth and maybe you’ve been more of a parent than your mom or dad has been to you. And maybe you’re angry over that.

If bitterness is a prison, forgiveness is the key that unlocks the door.

Forgive your mom. Forgive your dad. Forgive your child. Forgive your sibling. Forgive your church. Forgive your friends. Forgive your enemy. Tell them, to their face, or in a hand-written note, that you forgive them. And then trust God going forward when reminders of those painful moments start to resurface. 

All of this to say: I guess before we teach our children about external looks not providing true identity, before we teach our children that in Christ our past mistakes cannot depress us today and before we teach our children that forgiveness is what gives life to relationships and bitterness is what kills them – we have to model it to them. We have to delete the lies of our culture and download the liberating truth of God’s Word. 

Put your heart right. Reach out to God and face the world again. Then all your trouble will fade from your memory, like floods that pass and are remembered no more. Job 11:13 

Thanks for reading. No matter your looks, your past or your status of relationships today, you are loved. 

Z