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

5 Things Children Need In Order To Have Contentment

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I remember taking a humanities class where the professor had us watch this movie from 1994 called: Bullets Over Broadway. 

This movie was the start of cultural post-modernism and still affects the way most people who aren’t captured by Jesus’ love think. It even got turned into a musical. 

The main character in the movie is played by John Cusack. He lives in the early 1900’s in downtown New York City. 

He has a girlfriend but he also has this temptation and opportunity to have an affair. 

He’s talking to his friend named Sheldon, and Cusack says to his friend, “I want to have this affair, but I don’t want to feel guilty for being unfaithful to my girlfriend.” 

And this is what Sheldon says, this is his advice: 

“Guilt is crap. It’s made up. A real artist creates his own universe.”

Remember how in 1 Corinthians 13, verse 6 it says that love does not demand it’s own way? 

Well, Cusack does. He has this affair with this other woman, doesn’t tell his girlfriend about it and then he finds out later that his girlfriend cheats on him with another man. 

And Cusack loses his mind. He’s all, “How dare you betray my trust. How dare you go back on your commitment. How could you be unfaithful?

He says, “Who were you with?”
And she says, “I was with Sheldon.” 

Because Sheldon says an artist creates his own universe.

(This movie came out 25+ years ago so any spoiler alert thoughts can be put to rest. You’ve had time to see it.) 

The driving point of Bullets Over Broadway is what’s wrong with the human race. 

People not devoted to Jesus are creating their own universe by saying, “Who’s to say what’s right and wrong?” They create their own moralistic codes to live and usually it’s based on how they want to feel in the moment. 

In April, 2018, GQ Magazine published an article, by the editor himself, entitled: “21 Books You Don’t Have to Read.

Number 12 on that list was “The Bible”, calling it overrated.

The article went on to say that there are some good parts  of the Bible but it’s not the finest thing man has ever written (I agree, since man didn’t write it).

I consider the Bible the only compass that leads to contentment. Without the Bible pointing us to Jesus, we would be headed down the path of creating our own universe, our own moral standards, and that path leads away from love.

When you’re watching a movie or reading an article or listening to a friend’s opinion, just know that culture’s worldview is set by creating their own moralistic universe of what is right and what is wrong and you need to get back to God’s Word and align yourself to what He says. 

Because what He says is said in real love and true wisdom. 

Yes or no: When you read your Bible on a daily basis, do you give more love to others verses days and weeks you go without reading the Bible? We know the people here can’t experience life without first experiencing God’s love for us. 

Specifically, our children can’t experience real love and true wisdom without us experiencing those things from God first. 

My wife and I catch ourselves as parents feeling like, “Oh my goodness. We give so much to our children. We give so much to them and they give such little back.” 

But this is what unconditional love is. You don’t love and serve and forgive and be patient and bite your tongue and train what is right and clean up messes and endure heartache and stay up late at night and worry yourself silly and invest time and energy into them and pray for them daily because they can give you something in return. 

You do it because you love them unconditionally. 

Before our kids know what love is behaviorally, they have to experience love first from the behavior of those closest to them. 

Whatever your opinion of statistics are, I read a study that shared this one:

Between the ages of 18-28, 80% of people who have a faith in Jesus choose to walk away from Him permanently. 

And they never come back, because they weren’t equipped by their parents, their mentors, their church family to handle the temptation, stress, and hardship that comes with growing up. 

Only 20% either stay faithful to God or eventually return to Him.

To do so, what children need is not academic success, athletic or artistic accolades, more likes on their social media posts, romantic love or even the desires of their hearts and dreams. 

Here are five things they need in their lives continually in order to experience real love, true wisdom and a life full of joy and peace: 

(1) A Loving God  

I want my children and your children all to know Jesus intimately close where they can trust Him at all times and they can known His guidance and believe His power is available for them even at the youngest of ages. They will know that they don’t have to do life on their own, that God is for and with them.  

(2) A Loving Book 

We call this amazing book, the Bible. It will point them in the direction of a lifestyle that leads to legacy. If they know their Bible, they will lead a life that is full of life and purpose and distinct compared to the rest of their friends and the world around them. If they keep the Bible in their minds and follow Its instruction, they will be able to work through disappointment in a mature way and stay strong in down seasons emotionally. Their compass in life has got to be the Bible, it cannot be their own heart. 

(3) A Loving Parent 

This is critical: each parent sets the spiritual pace and expectation of their child. 

As Paul wrote to Timothy, Imitate me as I imitate Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1)

Who spends more time with a child of a church, the teachers and volunteers in the church or the parent of the child?

In a recent study, (where are my mom’s at?), in a recent study 1/3 of children ages 8-12 said they wish they could spend more time with their moms.

Same age range, ages 8-12, it doubles for dads. 2/3s of children wish they could spend more time with their dad. 

In this same study, (52,000 students were polled) 9 out of 10 middle school and high school students said they have no desire to see their parents take a lesser role in their lives, but a greater one.

Parents need to step up. They’re going to be gone before you know it and I’m afraid the norm in our culture is to keep our kids so busy and so happy that life gets so blurry that we forget our main priority is to train them to be faithful.

The job of the leaders and volunteers in a church is not to babysit your kids. Their job is also not to make sure your kid makes it to heaven in the end. No, their job is to equip parents and grandparents and guardians to know how to make a daily, influential investment into the lives of their kids. Your responsibility as parents is to do everything you can daily to make sure your kids love Jesus while they’re in the home and are faithful in that 18-28 age range, – and our leadership’s responsibility is to help you do that.

(4) A Loving Friend 

Every kid and teen needs at least one close friend who shares a common faith in Jesus and that friend will be there for them during church activities, but also will take a stand with them at school and as they get older, will stand with them on the weekend and during the summer when the spiritual pressure builds up. 

If each of our kids had a radical, faithful friend to stand with, it would be more difficult for them to walk away from God and toward the world. 

(5) A Loving Voice 

When I say our children need a loving voice, I mean someone who is older than them, who will encourage them in love and challenge them in truth from God’s Word and will care for them enough to hold them accountable to be there for them when life gets difficult, lonely, or sin looks appetizing.

A loving voice gently shares the truth in love.

In the church let’s not say the cheesy line that children are the future of the church. I’ve not a fan of that belief. The children are in the church now, they’re part of the church now, they have a role in the church now and we need them today and tomorrow.  If they’re going to worship with us tomorrow and love on others tomorrow and be there with Jesus tomorrow they need right now:

A loving God (Jesus)
A loving Book
(Bible)
A loving Parent
(mentor)
A loving Friend
(transparency)
A loving Voice
(truth in love)

Your kids, the kids of your community, they need these things. You need these things as well. 

Thanks for reading. You are loved. 

Z