Showing posts with label Teaching Kids About Jesus. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Teaching Kids About Jesus. Show all posts

Shouts And Whispers



9:32 AM.  Some spunky spider threaded a silvery strand from the porch railing to the chair last night, and I'm sitting here looking at it as I try to figure out what I exactly want to write today. The wind is picking up, and I keep watching the thread in the sunlight, thinking surely it will break in the gusts.  But it hasn't.  Spider silk is strong stuff.

I didn't start this trying to draw an analogy here, but its kind of like the country right now isn't it?  Some days the events in the news are so crazy, it feels like the entire American civilization is hanging by a thread.  Maybe one day the last gust of wind, the last crazy event, will break it.  I hope our traditions and values, the things we used to all unite around as nation, will be like that thread, strong enough to string our country together amidst all this chaos, but if not...well, it's a good thing that we believers in Christ don't have to place our hope in men, isn't it?

I'd like to insert something I wrote on Instagram a couple weeks ago, for posterity or for any of you who don't follow me over there.  This is the bottom line to me:

I had some things I wanted to share this week, but all that is on hold for now, as Instagram was dominated yesterday by black squares. I don’t like getting involved in these things online, but this morning all my thoughts and feelings and discouragements coalesced and clarified. So against my initial instinct to swear off social media and just pray and cocoon with my kids (which still might be what I end up doing), I have a few things to say..First, to those putting your hope in social media campaigns, or conversations, or human organizations, or a political party, or violence, to spur on whatever change you think needs to happen, I think you will be disappointed..I like how someone else (@stopandconsider on Instagram) put it: “The spiritual oppression that all men are under is sin, and from that all the physical vestiges of oppression find their power. The only way that is changed is by proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ, who died for sinful men to reconcile them to God.”.
The solution to ALL our sin, the sins hidden inside us as well as the sins of murder and theft and racism that dominate the news, is CHRIST, crucified to pay the penalty of death that WE deserved. He is risen to conquer death, heal our souls, and give us victory over that sin..
HE is the One who sets us free, changes hard hearts, and brings peace to our sinful souls and broken world. If you don’t know that peace and reconciliation with God - I pray, I beg you, to seek and find that Truth...And one more thing - if we as Christians are trying to participate in this conversation on racism, rule of law, etc, and we leave out the Gospel, I’m sorry but we are doing it wrong. I’ve been personally convicted of this. What eternal good are we doing if we aren’t taking care to point others to Christ through this tragic situation? What lasting change can be made if we don’t preach the Gospel of Christ, which has the true power to change hearts and save eternal souls?.
It’s time to turn our eyes back to Him, our only true Hope amidst the chaos.

The events of the last few weeks have kind of been the last gust of wind for me, to turn my eyes back to what really matters.  These verses in 2 Timothy have been swirling in my brain through the turmoil our nation is facing - reminding me that this is my duty, this is my call:

Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all long-suffering and teaching...But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.
2 Timothy 4:2,5

Paul was writing this to Timothy, who was a young pastor.  But when I read those verses to apply them personally, I am reminded to keep my mind on the gospel, and my energy focused on my kids. There are so many voices shouting on social media right now, it's hard to hear anyone, and the limitations of trying to speak the truth online become ever more apparent...but I can preach the Word to my kids.  I can be faithful in my efforts to convince, exhort, rebuke, and train them.  I can show them how to be watchful in all things by showing them what God's Word says about what is happening in the world, I can present examples of how to endure afflictions while giving thanks to God, I can do the work of an evangelist by pointing them to Jesus's atoning work on the cross always.  This is I can fulfill my ministry, the most important one, which has always been to shine the light of Christ in my home to my children, to write the Truth on their hearts.




(A couple photos from my birthday fishing trip last weekend.)

So maybe that's why I have been quiet on social media and my blog lately, because I have been mulling over how I can do better at this.  How I can lead their hearts to Jesus, pray for them better, train them in righteousness, and prepare them to stand firm amidst the persecution they will no doubt face someday.  

I feel more urgency for this than I used to.  I don't want to waste too much time shouting into the noise on social media, when my greatest impact will be whispering truth into the hearts of my children.

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Anyway, I meant for this to be a light, catch-up post, but I guess I needed to get that off my chest first.  You all know I like to have fun, and sharing it all on here is part of the fun for me, so those posts are coming too!  Thanks for hanging around while I sorted through my thoughts over the last month.

And oh yeah, it's summer.  The sun is shining on my legs, and I can practically feel the Vitamin D being manufactured, boosting my mood.  The birds chirp from the trees all around, the table umbrella is spinning as the breeze picks up, and I hear some shouting from inside the house that I should probably go attend to.  Before I close my laptop, I look up again, and that silvery thread connecting the chair and the railing is still dancing in the wind.


Four Quick Reminders About Teaching Children The Bible



My arms are filled with laundry as I trudged up the stairs, turning the corner to put the clothes away.  Why is it that the laundry is never done? I think to myself.  But my steps slow down as I near the girls' room - one of them is singing in there.  I turn my hear to listen, and recognize one of the lines (amidst some other made-up words).  To God be the Glory, great things He has done!  The words drift out of the bedroom, and I feel a laugh bubbling up in my chest.

One of my greatest joys right now as a mom is to randomly catch one of my children singing a line to hymn.  Or to hear an echo of a catechism question or Bible verse we've been working on as they chatter to other people.  It doesn't happen all the time, but every couple months I catch one of them repeating something that we've been working on, and it makes my heart so happy.

This year one of my focuses with the kids has been developing a morning time routine.  Not only for our homeschooling, but also as a dedicated time each day to pour eternal truths into my kids.  We usually sing a hymn, work on memorizing catechism questions and Bible verses, and read from our Bible, and perhaps one other book.  

I haven't even been as consistent with this as I would like, but somehow things are still soaking through.  It's moments like the one above that remind me why I need to be consistent, why this is important.  I want these truths hidden in their hearts.

This week I have been thinking over a few things that I am trying to remember as I teach my children about Jesus, since we just got a new resource that I am excited to add to our morning Bible time routine (see the end of this post!).  I thought I'd share a few of my little Bible-time "notes to self" here.

Note To Self #1 - Don't refer to the Bible as a "storybook".  To be honest, I'm still working on this one, but I am really trying to not talk about reading a "Bible story" to my kids.  Every other time I tell the kids we are going to read a "story" from a picture book, I'm reading them something that is not true.  I don't want my kids to get the idea that the Bible is just full of nice "stories".  I want them to know it is history!  

So we don't read "Bible stories", we read the "biblical account" of history.  We don't talk about "Bible characters", we talk about "biblical figures".  It's a small shift, but I want my kids to know that this isn't a bunch of fiction - these are accounts of people that really lived, and things God really did!

Note To Self #2 - Memory work matters.  I need this reminder sometimes because when we are having a busy week, our Bible memory work is one of the first things to drop off - but it shouldn't be. I know from firsthand experience that the best way to truly know God's word is to embed it into your mind from a young age.  When I was a kid, we memorized around a hundred verses each year, trying to earn our way to summer camp as part of a program at our church.  Now when I'm facing a tricky situation or doing something wrong or hearing something from a speaker that's just a bit off, the Holy Spirit brings to mind one of the verses I learned as a child.  I may not always remember the reference, but the words are there, hidden in my heart.  I want that for my kids too, for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness (2 Tim. 3:16).  And the only way to get God's word hidden in their hearts is consistency (and maybe a healthy dose of bribery motivation).

Note To Self #3 - Kids can understand theology.   And probably a lot more than we typically give them credit for.  One of my current pet peeves is when Bible lessons are dumbed down for little ones.  Instead of giving them the real meat of God's word, I think we too often give them a lick and then take the meal away!  

I think I first started to realize this when one of my children asked me why we still sin if Jesus takes our sins away.  Instead of giving a light answer, I had to really dive into our sin nature and justification and sanctification - how Jesus paid for our sins and gives us His righteousness, so we are justified before God when we trust in Him, but we still struggle with sin as God continues to sanctify us while we are on the earth.  Obviously I had to define these words, but I was shocked at how much my little five year old understood!  We underestimate our kids too often.

Note To Self #4 - It's okay to make religion fun for kids.  Lest you think it's all serious doctrinal discussions around here, I have to point this out (and remind myself of this too)!  

I don't take many points from Dennis Prager on religion, since he is not a believer in Christ, but this last Christmas I watched one of his videos where he talked about why it's good to make religion fun for kids.  What he said made so much sense to me.  It gave me some peace of mind as I give my kids the presents, make the Bible-themed snacks (two [swedish] fish and five loaves [crackers], anyone?), play the games, sing the silly songs along with the great ones!  I want to make Bible time fun, so they look back on it with fondness.  

God willing, someday each of my kids will grow to the point where these things I am trying to teach them become personally meaningful and life-changing, as the Holy Spirit convicts them and they truly realize their need for Christ and turn to Him in repentance and faith. I pray for that and it's the reason why I am teaching them in the first place.  But for these little years, they really still need it to be fun too.  It's serious work, teaching our kids about Jesus, but there is no reason we can't laugh while we do it - it may even help it to stick better!



One of the things I do to keep Bible time fun for all of us is to look for new resources periodically to refresh out routine.  We have the Bible we like to use, and the hymn book we sing from, and I am trying to rotate some other resources in and out.  So I was so excited to be able to be on the launch team for these wonderful "Big Words Of The Bible" cards from Tiny Theologians!










These cards each represent and important Greek or Hebrew word that it would be helpful for kids (or you!) to know.  I knew some of these, but some of them are new to me as well!  I am going to add these to our Bible time rotation - we will discuss one each day until we get through them all, and then work on memorizing them.  I am so excited to have a colorful fun resource that also teaches Greek and Hebrew vocabulary words that will be so helpful for my kids (and me) to learn!

The cards are launching on Friday!  
I'll be reminding you on Instagram if you are interested in snagging a set, or you can hop over and follow Tiny Theologians to stay updated and see all their resources (I'm eyeing the ABC Attributes Of God cards and the Fathers Of The Faith cards too)!

Note: I am on the launch team for the Big Words Of The Bible cards and received a set for free from Tiny Theologians!

How To Explain The Gospel To A Four Year Old

(Forgive me for using springtime pictures in the summer - this is my boy in April.)

When I was six years old, all the girls in my class had seen the Little Mermaid - except me.  My mom had yet to screen that very popular movie, so I really had no idea how to play the Little Mermaid when I visited a new friend’s house.  Her basement was the ocean, and she of course, was Ariel, singing her six-year-old lungs out on the “rock” at the top of the stairs.  When it was my turn to be Ariel, I did not know the mermaid’s songs.  I still have no memory of what I sang instead, but I’m pretty sure the other girl could tell I hadn’t seen the movie.

That visit with a friend I (who I rarely saw again) stands out in my adult memory now - let’s be honest, largely because of the Little Mermaid game that I didn’t really know how to play.  How embarrassing! (Except not really, because I didn’t care that much about the Little Mermaid.)  But it also stands out because of something my friend said.  Don’t ask me how we got on this subject - I think either me or one of my siblings must have asked her if she was saved.  And my friend said she was saved, because every night she asked Jesus to come into her heart.


When Christmas Stresses You Out

When Christmas Stresses You Out | Through Clouded Glass


I have a little confession to make - Christmas time stresses me out.

When I was a child, Christmas season was a month full of fun.  Parties, Christmas decorations, good food, time with family and friends, presents - what was not to love?  Little did I realize how much work went into all that Christmas magic every year, especially by my mom.  Now I'm the mom, and I realize just how stressful all the logistics of Christmas can be.

Over the last couple years I have been trying to figure out how to go about making Christmas less of a stress - so I can have a December that is a month full of fun for me too!  These are a few things that I have figured out so far (I'd love to hear any of your tips, so comment below with your thoughts)!


Thankful For The Bible

Teachingkidstobethankfulforbible

It is Thanksgiving week, and like everyone else, I want to focus on being thankful for all the things God has given me!  I have a couple more posts coming on the topic of being thankful, but one thing I wanted to focus on today is God's written word - the Bible.

I believe the Bible is God's Word, written by men who were inspired by the Holy Spirit.  Every word of Scripture is directly from God.  I feel like sometimes Christians can even get confused on the inerrancy and all-sufficiency of the Bible (which is another topic, for another post).  But over the last few months I have been thinking a lot about the Bible, and what a blessing it is.  God gave us this manual for our lives, and everything we need to know for life is in there.  It is also through the Bible that we are able to know about Jesus and come to know Him personally!  All are reasons why this book is precious.

One thing that amazes me about God's Word is how deep it is - I could study it for a hundred years and still learn new things.  I've been learning that lately as I am continuing to study and memorize Hebrews.  I never realized how much about Hebrews I didn't know, and it makes me wonder what I'm missing in other books of the Bible as well!

All that to say, a love and thankfulness for God's Word is something that I want to impress upon my kids.  I think there are a few keys to doing that.


1.  You have to read it yourself, and let them see you reading the Bible.  This is something I need to get better at, because my kids are not going to realize the Bible is important if they don't see me reading it!

2.  Read the Bible to them regularly.  We have mostly been doing storybook Bibles with our kids, but I want to start reading them chapters.  I think it will be good practice for them at listening, and once again, I want them to realize how important God's word is.

3. Talk about how blessed we are to have God's Word any time we need it.  God really did think of everything.  We don't need to sit around, wondering what God thinks, or waiting for some mysterious new revelation.  If we want to hear from God, all we have to do is crack open the pages of the Bible.

4.  Memorize Scripture.  We've been doing much better at this lately - I have memory verses I help Wyatt with, and then I've been working on memorizing Scripture myself.


For the rest of this post I wanted to focus on that last one, because I feel like a great way to teach young children to appreciate the Bible is memorizing Scripture.  As they commit verses to memory, it is easier for them to see how these words apply to their everyday lives.

Even as an adult, as I have been trying to get back into memorizing Bible verses, I have been re-discovering how beneficial it is.  I think about God's Word much more throughout the day when I am actively memorizing a portion of it.  (Which reminds me, I am up to chapter 5 of Hebrews - I will try to do another verse-reciting vlog soon!)

Tommy Nelson has provided a great resource for finding verses to help your kids memorize - a book called I Can Learn The Bible, which is the kid's version of The Joshua Code.  I had never heard of The Joshua Code, but I have started reading through it, and I love the concept.  It is based on Joshua 1:8, which talks about keeping God's Word in our mouths and meditating on it.  We can't do that if we don't memorize Scripture.

DSC 6547blog

Both of these books take a single verse per week to memorize and think about, over the course of one year.  I have only read part way through the books, but so far the commentary on each of these verses seems accurate, and provides some good insights (if I find anything that concerns me in either book I'll update this post, but so far so good).

I Can Learn The Bible includes a verse for each week, taken from the International Children's Bible version.  I have never read through this whole version, but the language of the verses is easy for kids to understand.  I am rather traditional, so I'll probably have my kids memorize the verses in the NIV or NKJV since that is what I usually read, but so far the ICB seems like it would be a good supplement for explaining some of the more difficult verses.  I like that the gospel is explained clearly through these pages.

We've been skipping around in the book a bit, and this week I wanted to find a section that would be appropriate for Thanksgiving - then I realized that children are encouraged to thank God throughout this book, which I love!

One chapter I thought was good for the concept of thanksgiving was the chapter on being filled with the Holy Spirit, whom every believer receives when they trust in Jesus.   John MacAruthur has said that being filled with the Spirit is "living every moment as if you are standing in the presence of Jesus Christ".  I like that.  If we are filled with the Spirit we will be continuously praising God and thanking Him for all things (Ephesians 5:18-21).

Isn't that what Thanksgiving is all about?  The Thanksgiving holiday is about thanking God for Who He is, what He has done for us, and what He continues to do in our lives.  His Word is one of the most wonderful things He has given us, and I want to talk to my kids about that this week.

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What are your favorite resources for inspiration to memorize Bible verses (and for getting your kids to memorize Scripture as well)?  I'd love to hear any other recommendations below!

If you are interested in checking out either of these books, I have good news - Tommy Nelson is offering one of my readers a chance to win I Can Learn The Bible and The Joshua Code!  I think it would be fun to read these books side by side, and do a study together with your kids each week (in fact, I'm not sure why we haven't been doing that already).

Enter below for a chance to win!  I'll keep this giveaway open (to U.S. residents) through Black Friday!

Note: I received copies of "I Can Learn The Bible" and "The Joshua Code" for free in exchange for a review.  The above paragraphs about the books are my honest opinion.

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