I had to get after the kids again for not buckling up their seat belts right away. Of course we were in a hurry to get somewhere, and Asher had an urgent story to tell me. Sometimes I feel like it’s anything he can do other than obey the direction at hand.
I said, “You know what, I can’t hear anything you say until you do what I asked you to do first.”
Chloe quickly chimed in, “It’s like the Bible verse I did last week that says ‘Children obey your parents…’ ”
“Yep. True story, baby girl.” Asher scowled to her briefly, buckled, and then proceeded to finish his story as we backed out of the driveway.
Later that afternoon, they were writing Bible verses in their journal, and Chloe had to find one in Colossians when she came across her previously highlighted verse, Colossians 3:20:
“Children obey your parents because this is pleasing to the Lord.”
“Mom! It’s right here! The one I was talking about this morning!”
These moments are so awesome, when I get to witness a “God-incidence” that comes to fruition in their own experiences. It’s so much more meaningful than me lecturing them about what the Bible says. When they seek it out for themselves, it impacts them in a truly authentic way.
This verse reminded me how our relationship with our children mirrors our relationship with God. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve felt stuck in my own spirit because I knew I wasn’t obeying what God “told me to do first.” Our pastor says, “How are you expecting God to bless you or answer your prayer in this area if you haven’t done the first thing He told you to do?”
I want my kids to grow up not only knowing God’s Word, but trusting Him as a result of that knowledge. If I’m not making efforts to familiarize them with the Bible, I can’t expect it to happen by osmosis. Of course our modeling and behavior have a lot to do with it, but there is no more real substitute than by helping them to engage for themselves. In Women of the Word, author Jen Wilkin says, “The heart cannot love what the mind does not know.”
Here are four simple steps to how we introduced knowing God that, prayerfully, translates into loving Him.
Memorization Through Song
Familiarity with scripture began with songs based on scripture. Music is one of the best pneumonic devices (sound / pattern memorization) to begin with kids. (Download our Heart of Worship songbook pages for free by clicking here!)
When they were old enough to read and write (around kinder / 1st grade), we started saying the books of the Bible out loud. Then I posted them up on a cabinet in our kitchen. Here is a fun YouTube video for memorizing the Books of the Bible.
Write It Out
This practice began with them needing to memorize their home address and our phone numbers, so they pick a verse out of a jar, and each page in their notebook has their name, date, home address, our phone numbers, & scripture.
- Find the verse – they used the table of contents until they got used to the location of different books
- Copy it down in the notebook – practicing handwriting, paying attention to punctuation.
- Interpret – talk about what it means & apply it to their life (1-2 minutes)
- Memorize – Try to remember it throughout the day; ask them about it later; even if they only recall the concept.
Make Connections to the Character of God
I believe it’s my job to help them understand how to build relationship with their Creator. Getting to know Him personally so they will trust His character and will for their lives, and to be mindful to find or look out for a few other verses that reinforce the same teaching.
One of my favorite projects put out by Orange Curriculum is called The Phase Project, where church leaders and families synchronize the efforts of all leaders and establish consistency in the lives of kids and teenagers from preschool through college.
See our post Authentic Faith: Helping Kids Connect to God for the Four Faith skills from Preschool to High School.
Be Sensitive to Teachable Moments
I’ve been researching the topic of perfectionism, and the Lord continues to put this on my heart. I actually don’t remember where I was reminded of this truth from Matthew 5 (could have been a podcast, a sermon, a book…), but when this concept hit me, it sunk in:
“And seeing the multitudes, he sent up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him: and He opened his mouth and taught them…”Matthew 5:1-2
This is Jesus’ famous Sermon on the Mount where He lists the Beatitudes…light of the world…all scripture will be fulfilled…anger is the same as murder… lust is the same as adultery… marriage… swearing by heaven…eye for an eye…
Jesus is basically speaking to the Jewish people on the law of Moses and how culturally and personally they are to see those laws in the light of God the Father. He cared about their relationship with others, and fulfilling the law really means acting in humility and love.
…and then He gets to this part:
““You have heard that it was said, ‘you shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Therefore, you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Hold on… so being perfect as my heavenly Father really means loving my enemies? Mind. Blown. As I wrestled with this topic over the next week, I had the kids write out these six verses as one of their writing activities.
The very next week, Chloe brought up an issue she was having with two boys in her class. They weren’t letting her play with them, blaming things on her; she came home feeling defeated. She would talk about them in an angry tone.
“It sounds like these boys are making you angry, “ I said.
“Yeah,” she sighed. “They always do mean things to me.”
“I understand how frustrating it is when people don’t treat you nicely. Do you know, Jesus talked about this in the Bible, too?”
“Yeah, remember the verses you wrote last week… Jesus said love your…”
“Enemies! Like people who are mean to you, “ she recalled from our previous conversation.
“Yeah, what could that look like in your situation at school?”
“I dunno. Like I could be nice to them?”
She came up with the idea of writing a note to each of them, asking if they would be her friend, and telling them God loves them. It’s a start, and it’s a way for her to practice living out her faith.
I can’t wait for the next moment. It gives me hope, that God is still working, continuing the good work He began in us (Phil. 1:6)… my parents, me, now my kiddos… and will complete it until the day of Christ. I am confident in this.
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