Plant The Word In The Heart Of Your Child

By: Tia Johnson 0 Comments   11/10/2014

When it comes to scripture, the majority of church-goers see the Bible as they would a chicken. They know what one looks like on the outside and most likely can identify a few parts of the meat, but they really don't know what the inside of the bird looks like.

There's only one way to learn what a chicken looks like on the inside. I remember when I, a wide-eyed city girl, first learned the ins and outs of a chicken as I watched my grandma butcher. 

She cut the bird open, pulled out each part of it, and explained its purpose. Let's just say that the only way to really learn about the guts of a chicken is to cut it open and take it apart.

Obviously, very few people have a need to get this deep with a bird. Yet we do have a need to get deep with God's word. However, very few church-goers have taken the time to cut open scripture, identify its parts, and understand what it really means.

This is a growing concern for me as I see churches filled with adults who can't even answer the questions their Sunday School children are being asked. They've either never learned or totally forgot. The remedy for either case is regular, in-depth study of God's word. If parents are not able to answer simple questions for their children, it's not their pastor's fault. It's their own lack of study. And daily living without God's word has constant negative impact, not just in our inaccurate answers to kids, but in our lack of discernment for important decisions. If more church-goers studied God's word and lived by it, we would have a church that looked less like the world and more like Jesus Christ.

Yet it is so easy to go throughout our days and years without carefully considering the truths in this great book. For this reason it has been my prayer since my children were babies that they would know God's word-- really know it-- and apply it to their lives.

Prayer is probably the most powerful tool parents can use to encourage spiritual growth in their children. But there's other ways in which we can help to raise them up in the Lord as we are commanded to do so. For those who agree that instilling God's word is of primary importance for our children today, I have compiled 10 tips to help this along.

10 Tips to instill God's word:

1. Emphasize over and over that the Bible is not just a storybook, it is true. You may even refer to your readings as “historical accounts” instead of “stories.”

2. When you read the Bible to your kids, read with voice inflection that shows interest. Try listening to yourself once- would you enjoy what you are hearing?

3. Make those Bible reading times memorable for your kids. Some of the fondest memories I have are of the kids bounding into bed with me in the morning as I'm reading my Bible. Often they'd just cuddle up while I finished. Sometimes they asked me to read out loud. I never demanded that they listen to scripture at this time, but gave their interest in scripture a chance to authentically develop.

4. Talk about how the Bible passages connect. Ruth was David’s great-grandmother. Joseph was Isaac’s grandson. The Saul who stood by the coats of the stone-throwers later became a preacher. The disciple John wrote the last book of the Bible that tells us about the future. If these truths are not familiar to you, don't try to explain what you don't understand. Instead, investigate your questions with your kids. They'll probably learn more than if you just told them of these awesome connections. 

5. To really live out a Bible passage, act it out. On a tired day, try acting the part of Eli and let your child be Samuel as you both sleep. Practice playing the roles of Mary and Martha while you’re cleaning the house. I have really enjoyed acting out the stories of David and Goliath and of Jacob and Esau reuniting. Switch up who plays each role. Or, have toy dolls/animals act out Bible accounts. Sometimes it’s also fun to let your kids play “church” and watch them preach. You'd be surprised what comes out!

6. Be authentic in expressing your interactions with scripture with your kids. Talk about a verse that convicted you that morning. As your kids mature, bring up questions you've been investigating. They are most likely going to approach the Bible as they see their parents do so, so be real with them.

7.Memorizing scripture is a powerful habit to start young, and methods may vary depending upon your child’s learning style. A song might work best for some, erasing a word at a time might work for others, but I’ve found that no matter the method, regular review will be a more sure way of keeping that verse in one's heart. Encourage your child to review a set of verses whenever he is waiting in line, to keep a card in his wallet, or a few scripture songs on his MP3. (There are lots of options for scripture put to a song- Max Lucado's Hermie collection is one of them.) Memorizing, understanding, and reviewing 12 key verses each year is much better, I think, then spouting out 52 verses that are neither retained nor understood.

8. Tie scripture in to current events you hear on the news: “Proverbs says to carefully guard your heart, and we can see why. One bad thought leads to another, and that’s exactly what happened to this criminal who will now be spending the rest of his life in jail.”

9. Don’t force it, just make scripture a constant invitation. If your child asks you to stop reading scripture while he’s bruising his teeth, then stop. You want your child to develop a heart that seeks after God’s words on his/her own. Of course, there might be other occasions where a family Bible reading is not optional, such as at family devotions. 

10. It’s most important that you are authentically applying scripture in your life if you want your child to do so. This can be difficult, especially when you realize the need to apologize to someone or to change a bad habit you have been carrying. Just remember that the steps you take spiritually today impact not just you, but your family and future generations.

Many of us want to raise up children who will positively impact the world in their generation. This cannot happen without God's will for their lives, which is written in His word, guiding them. Encourage them in many ways to dissect scripture, to really understand it. But it's God who draws them in, so, most of all, pray for them.

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