"Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere and brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God.--1 Peter 1:22, 23 Happy Monday! Hope you had a great weekend!
Last week, I began our May series, Teach Them Diligently, so let's jump right back in, shall we? We talked about the important stewardship we have been given as parents of sharing the gospel with our kids, wherever we go, whatever we do, whenever we can. Today and over the next couple of days, we will start looking at the content of what we are to share with our kids.
Reading God's Word
As I shared last week, the first thing we need to plant in our children's souls is the truth of the Gospel. For little ones, this may simply be telling them the foundational principles of the Gospel as I outlined in Thursday's post. I wouldn't worry about adding verse and reference at this point. Even when they were infants, we would read baby Bibles in board book form. Our goal was to begin introducing the people of the Bible to our children by simply naming them, just as we would name objects around them.
As they got older, we began to actually read the actual stories, using children's Bible storybooks. There are many good ones out there. When they were little, we just focused on reading the story. Nothing fancy.
As they got older and began to read, we would begin to show them that these truths and stories are found in God's Word, which was different than any other storybook. The NIV has a reader's version that is appropriate for kids. Ultimately, the Word is our best testimony to God's heart and his ways. When they are able to read it for themselves, they are able to go straight to the source.
As our children come to know, receive and embrace the gift of God's salvation in their lives, we began to add truth regarding their new identity in Christ. The world with its pervasive and insidious lies would love to feed our children half-truths.
It is easy to just jump into telling our children what they ought to do without reminding them of who they truly are. Once our children cross the line into faith, they will have an enemy who seeks to derail, confuse and tear down their faith. Using God's Word, we need to remind them that they are beloved children of God (1 John 3:1), created to do good works for God (Eph. 2:10), and a part of God's family (Eph. 3:6).
When my daughter was entering her preteen years, this was a truth that I needed to plant into her. She was feeling a little left out at church (sad but common). It was easy to have a "me" and "them" mentality. So we looked at Ephesians 4:4-6 and talked about how in Christ, we have far more in common than we realize. Her struggles became a discipleship moment, an opportunity to plant truth into her heart.
There are many ways to plant truth into our children's hearts. We have had formal times as a family, sitting together reading from a devotional (we used Long Story Short for awhile). When we heard bickering and arguing, we would take a break from the devotional and discuss an appropriate Scripture dealing with that issue and talk about its ramifications for our family.
How do you get started with family devotions? First step: find a time where you are consistently together. Maybe it's one day in the week or a particular time of day. Even if it is ten minutes, it is better than nothing. The goal is to get it into your family's routine and rhythm.
Decide with your spouse what your children need most at this stage. Even though there are wide age gaps between our kids, we have found having family devotions a good way for our kids all to hear the same thing. You can simply read systematically through a devotional or children's Bible and then ask simple questions. Tailor them to fit your kids' capabilities. As they get older, help your kids see the eternal principles behind the story. For example, after reading about David and Goliath, we ask our kids what "Goliaths" they face in their day, and how they can respond like David.
Don't be discouraged if it is difficult and you seem to miss more days than not. The important thing is not the failure but the willingness to try again. Since we have moved into our temporary home, we have not had family devotions. That's right. Not a one. But does that mean we're going to give up on the idea? Not a bit. Once the dust settles (literally!), we know we will go back to it. No guilt. No shame. Just pick up and try again.
Tomorrow, we'll talk about helping our kids get into their personal devotional habits, but for now, think about where your kids are at and how you can start building a strong foundation in the Word. Remember: it is better to be consistent with little things than set lofty goals that we hit and miss. One Bible story. One verse. All these add up over time to build a strong foundation in God's Word.