Bible

5 Ways to Get Your Kids Reading the Bible

Reading A couple of weeks ago, I was encouraging my younger daughter to read her Bible.

"But it's so big. And it's boring," she said.

The Bible is a tough book for our kids to tackle. It is big, and, really, Exodus and Leviticus are pretty hard to slog through, even for an adult. But the Bible is also filled with action, adventure, romance and miracles. It's an amazing story of God's love for us and everything that He's willing to do to bring us closer to Him. It's practical. It's interesting. It's a great read.

But our kids often don't see that. What they see is a really big book written in language that they don't always understand. It's a book that's not written in chronological order about things that happened a really long time ago.

However, it's important to instill a Bible-reading in our kids early. It's important that they begin to understand what's in the Bible and how to read it. It's important that they get the entire picture of God.

Thankfully, there are ways to make God's word more accessible to our kids. Here's five ways to get your kids reading the Bible.

1. Get an age-appropriate translation. My favorite version of the Bible for kids is the New International Readers Version. It's the NIV with smaller words so kids can understand them. The NIrV comes in a form to fit your kid from pink to camouflage. NIrV Kids Study Bible is one of my favorites.

2. Let your kids listen to the Bible. Use a Bible app like the one from Bible Gateway that allows your kids to listen to the Bible being read to them as they read along with the recording. This allows your kids the freedom to hear God's word without having to struggle through reading the sometimes difficult language. Reading it and hearing it also helps your kids understand it better.

3. Get a reading plan. Give your kids a reading plan that helps them read through the Bible. Find one that allows them to read different parts of the Bible at the same time. That way, when they are reading through Leviticus, they're also reading through a more understandable book. You can find a bunch of reading plans that will be sent to you each day at Bible Gateway.

4. Make it a challenge. Challenge your kids to read their Bibles. Have a Bible-reading challenge for your whole family. Pick a plan or choose a book of the Bible and challenge your family to read through it. Have progress charts and awards for reaching certain milestones.

5. Read it together. Choose a time to read the Bible together as a family. It can be once a week or every day or anything in between. Pick a time that works for you, whether it's at breakfast or at bed time. Read a passage of the Bible and discuss what it means as a family.

The Bible doesn't have to be intimidating for our kids. We can make it accessible to them and create lifelong habits that will have them turning to God's word for wisdom throughout their lives.

Creating Tangible Reminders for Moms

discouraged

Sometimes we all need a little reminder, tangible evidence of God's love and plan. I try to provide those for my kids, reminding them of what the Bible has to say about how we deal with certain situations, reminding them of how much God loves them, and helping them understand why God asks them to act a certain way.

But the truth is that I often need a reminder as well. When I'm doing my Bible reading, I often write down a verse that speaks to me on a notecard. Then I'll place that notecard where I can see it during the day -- above the sink, over my desk, on my bathroom mirror. It's a tangible reminder to me of whatever it is that God wants me to focus on that day.

Being a mom is tough. There's no one around to pat you on the back and tell you when you're doing a good job. Our kids rarely look at us and say, "Way to go mom. That was some great discipline you just handed out,"  or "Nice job cleaning up that mess I made for the third time today." Without a tangible reminder that what we're doing matters, it's easy to get caught in the thought that we're not making a difference, that we're simply marking time until our kids turn 18.

The truth is, though, that being a mom is the biggest, best, most frustrating, and most rewarding job ever. Everything we do makes a difference. The hugs we hand out, the life lessons we teach, the giggles we elicit all have one result -- the molding of a child's character. And there's no more important job in the world than that.

But it's easy to get discouraged in the role of mom -- because there are days when it's a long, uphill climb. That's why it's so important for us to hang onto the promises and encouragement that God gives us. That's why it's so important to create tangible reminders that what we do is important. That's why it's so important that we not lose sight what God's word says.

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If you're looking for a way to create tangible reminders for yourself, you can create your own notecards or you can check out the pretty set of On the Job Meditations for Mom from Thriving Home. These notecards are the perfect reminder of God's love for us, His plan for us, and His plan for our kids. They're cute, they're encouraging and they're the perfect size to leave where you can see them. You can check them out here. They are well worth the $4.99 price tag to have some tangible encouragement in your day.

Whether you make your own cards or use the ones from Thriving Home, create ways to be reminded of God's love and plan for you. Because being a mom can be a thankless job at times. Don't let those moments discourage you. Replace discouragement with God's word.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of the On the Job Meditations for Mom scripture cards but no other compensation was involved. The opinions expressed here are my own.

Why Do I Need to Memorize Scripture?

Tough Question

My older daughter earned a sword last night. No, we don't have some kind of weird rewards system at our house. She earned it at AWANA. Last night, she finished up four years of Truth and Training, memorizing more than 500 Scripture verses, and our AWANA program rewards that accomplishment by presenting each kid with a beautiful, handmade wooden sword. (If you're unfamiliar with the AWANA program, you can check it out here.)

Why a sword? Because God tells us that His word is like a sword. Ephesians 6:17 calls God's word the sword of the Spirit, and Hebrews 4:12 says "Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart."

God's Word is a weapon in the fight against Satan. And make no mistake, we (and our kids) fight battles against him every day. Knowing God's Word by heart makes that battle a little easier. It's a weapon in our arsenal, along with prayer and the Holy Spirit that helps us make good decisions and walk away from temptation. Knowing God's Word influences our actions.

Psalm 119:11 says, "I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you." If our kids don't know what God's Word says, they can't follow it. They can't use it as a weapon to fight off temptation and to make the right choices.

It's important that we read the Bible to our kids, but it's also important that we help them memorize it. Because when temptation and choices arise, they may not always have a Bible handy. Some decisions require a split-second choice based on knowledge and understanding that we already have. We want those choices to be informed by the Scripture our kids have in their hearts. When there's no time to look for the answer in the Bible, we want them to already have Scripture to pull from in their minds and their hearts.

Memorizing Scripture is one of the most helpful disciplines we can teach our kids. Not because there's a magic number of verses to memorize that make you a better Christ-follower than someone else. Not because it's another thing to check off the list. But because it makes a difference in their lives. It becomes a tool they can use to help them follow Jesus even when the going gets tough.

No matter the age of your kids, if they can talk, they can memorize Scripture. They can learn Scripture using songs and games. They can learn Scripture through a formal program like AWANA. Or they can learn Scripture through deliberate teaching at home. However you choose to help your kids memorize Scripture is great. The method isn't important. The result is.

Jesus Loves Me

Last Monday, I got to go to the Hillsong concert. A friend of mine had an extra ticket and offered it to me. I loved the music and the atmosphere of worship. But of all the songs we sang, my favorite was "Jesus Loves Me." As we were singing those simple words:

Yes, Jesus loves me.

Yes, Jesus loves me.

The Bible tells me so,

I was struck by their simplicity -- and their truth.

The Bible is a big book. It's made up of 66 books. It's well over 1,000 pages long. It has been studied, dissected, parsed and interpreted more than any other book in history.

Yet, its message is simple. Jesus loves you. That's it. The over-arching message of the Bible is those three simple words. Jesus loves you.

The Bible is a great teaching tool to use with your kids. It contains all sorts of instruction on how to live our lives. It covers instruction for everything from our speech to how to treat others to how to please God.

All those instructions, though, are wrapped around one big theme: Jesus loves you. 1 John 3:16 sums it up, "This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us."

Sometimes, we get so caught up in teaching our kids all the instructions found in the Bible that we miss teaching them the thing that makes all those instructions worth following. Jesus loves you.

When we teach our kids that one simple thing, it makes the Bible come alive in a different way. It becomes not just a book of rules, not just another religious book, not just something they carry to church on Sunday mornings. It becomes a love letter from God to them. It becomes a book of words worthy of soaking up.

So, when you're using the Bible to instruct your kids, when you're reading the Bible to them, when you're helping them memorize verses, focus on the fact that Jesus loves them. Make sure your kids know that the instructions in the Bible are given out of love. Help them see that all of the Old Testament points toward the arrival of Jesus, who would make a great sacrifice out of love for them.

Don't let the Bible become just a book for your kids. Don't let them think of it as just a book of rules. Focus on the message that matters: Jesus loves you.

Linking up today with The Better Mom and Graceful.

The Sweet Sound of Scripture

My house on Friday was filled with the sweet sound of children reciting the word of God. My ears tingled and my heart sighed. It was beautiful.

You see, Friday was the finale of our summer adventure. Every summer I gather my girls and four of their neighborhood friends around my kitchen table, and we learn about becoming the person God want us to be. This summer, we focused on courage as we traveled through time learning about historical figures that showed courage. Each week the girls learned a new verse, something new about courage and something about how solving conflict takes courage. And Friday was the wrap-up day.

The finale is always big and always a scavenger hunt of some kind. The big deal this year was a trip to our local amusement park, where the girls had to show courage by riding different rides, reciting their verses and answering questions about what they had learned. They collected points for each thing they accomplished, and the prize was cold, hard cash to spend on the midway games.

So, all day Friday, my girls were busy practicing their verses. They sat down with their notebooks and reviewed their stuff. They sat down with each other and quizzed one another. They walked around muttering scripture under their breath. They were busy hiding God's word in their hearts -- willingly and with joy.

It's important for our kids to learn the word of God. When they know scripture by heart, they can use it. It becomes more than just words on a page. It becomes life-changing. I know that the verses my girls learned this summer will stick with them. When my older daughter goes off to middle school in a few weeks, she's going to need some courage -- and when she does, those verses she learned this summer will be written on her heart to remind her that God is the source of courage.

But learning scripture can become just another rote exercise our kids must complete. If we're not careful, we can turn scripture memorization into a chore that our kids hate. We can make them loathe picking up the Bible. So, how do we help our kids memorize scripture without alienating them from the joy found in God's word?

Make it fun. Scripture memory should be rewarding. It should bring joy simply from letting God's word work in our lives. But kids sometimes need a little extra incentive, so come up with ways to make scripture memory fun.

  • Make a game out of it. Go around the dinner table and have everyone say a word of a verse.
  •  Offer incentives for scripture memory. Memorize so many verses and you get a prize.
  • Use music. Our brains are wired so that we tend to retain things better when they are set to music. Plus it doesn't seem like work when you're singing a song.

Make it useful. You  could make your kids memorize 12 verses from Leviticus. Those verses are in the Bible for a reason. But your six-year-old probably isn't going to understand the symbolism in the sacrifices of the Old Testament.

  • Choose verses your kids can relate to. If they're struggling with a particular topic or character quality, choose verses that address it. For a great list of verses to use with your kids check out this printable.
  • Start small. Don't start your scripture memory with Acts 1:8 or Malachi 3:10. Choose short verses to give your kids a sense of accomplishment. Memorization can be daunting. Set your kids up to succeed.

Include yourself. Memorize the verses with your kids. When they see you memorizing scripture as well, they will be more inclined to follow your lead. It becomes a family project instead of something else mom and dad are making them do.

If we want our kids to follow Jesus, if we want our kids to grow to be more like Him, we need to teach them the importance of knowing scripture. Hebrews 4:12 says this about the word of God: "For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart." We want that for our kids. We want them to judge their actions against the double-edged sword of scripture. We want them to know that God's word is alive and useful. And the only way to do that is to help them hide God's word in their hearts.

May you hear the sounds of children reciting scripture in your home soon. The sound is sweet and the rewards are many.

Linking up today with The Better Mom and Graceful.

Memory Monday: "Will You Read Us the Bible?" (2 Timothy 3:16)

My girls were stalling.

"Read some more."

"No, it's bed time."

"No, it's not. We still have 10 minutes."

"We're at the end of the chapter."

"Please."

"No."

"Well, can you read the Bible?"

How can a mom say no to that request? I knew my girls were just making up requests to keep from going to bed, but my heart couldn't say no when they asked for the Bible.

"OK, any requests for a particular story?"

"Noah and the ark," said my oldest.

"David bringing the ark of the covenant back to Jerusalem," said my 9-year-old. What an odd story for her to choose, I thought.

What started as a stalling tactic, ended as a half hour conversation about God and the Bible. You see, my kids have heard the story of Noah's ark over and over again, but I'm not sure they've ever read the actual version in the Bible. We do a family devotional as many evenings a week as we can manage. We talk about God and the Bible as often as we can fit it into the conversation. We look up verses in the Bible to make a point. But it dawned on me last night as I swiveled my head from child to child to answer their many questions that we rarely just read the Bible to them.

When I asked my younger daughter why she had chosen the story of the return of the ark of the covenant, she said, "We learned about it at church, but they made it sound more exciting than what you read." I explained that it was exciting, but her class had probably tried to put it into terms the kids would understand. It dawned on me that even in her class at church, she wasn't that often using her Bible.

My kids went to bed a half an hour late last night, but that half hour was probably the most important one of their day. You see, we can send our kids to all sorts of church classes, we can do family devotionals, we can talk with them about God, but our kids won't accept that the Bible is the source of wisdom if they never read it or use it.

Make it a point in your home to read the Bible with your kids. Stop and answer their questions. Let them understand the truth of 2 Timothy 3:16-17, "All Scripture is God-breathed   and is useful for teaching,   rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,  so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work."

We want our kids to be "thoroughly equipped." They can only do that if they have access to and are constantly exposed to God's word. Take a few minutes today to read the Bible with your kids. It will be the best-spent time of your day.

Looking for ways to use God's word with your kids, check out our free resource, Using Scripture with Kids, on the Free Stuff page.

Linking up today with Graceful and The Better Mom.

Remaining Faithful

I did not want to get up this morning. To celebrate my younger daughter's birthday, we took her to our minor league hockey team's playoff game last night. I got to bed a little after midnight.

There are actually a lot of mornings I don't want to roll myself out of bed. I'd much rather stay under the blankets and catch an extra hour of sleep. Whether it's lack of planning on my part or simply needing the freshness of a new day, I find I can't write blog posts in advance unless I absolutely have to. So, every morning, I get up before the rest of my family and write the day's post.

My husband had it even worse this morning. He "attends" a Thursday morning Bible study with some guys from cousin's church in Kentucky. He Skypes into their physical group. The kicker is that Kentucky is an hour ahead of us, and the Bible study starts at 6 eastern time. That means my husband has to be ready to go at 5 a.m. -- every Thursday morning.

The key to making these two things work is faithfulness. God is always faithful to show up in the activities He asks us to do, but we have to show up, too. When I first started writing this blog, I didn't want to do it. What do I know about raising kids? My kids aren't grown. I don't know how they're going to turn out. But God was insistent, so I prayed and told God that I would show up to write every morning if He would be faithful to show up and give me something to write about. In two years of writing this blog, I have yet to sit down in my chair and have nothing to write about.

Teaching our kids to be faithful, requires that we be faithful ourselves. It means when we commit to do something, we do it. It means when we make a promise to our kids, we keep it. It means we honor the promises we made to our spouses on our wedding days. It means we talk about how God is faithful to help us if we are faithful to do what He asks.

If we break our promises, if we agree to do things and don't do them, if we ignore our wedding vows, then all we give our kids is an example of unfaithfulness. We let them know it's OK not to follow through on the things we said we do. We are giving tacit approval to a living a life based on whatever whim strikes you that day. We are teaching them to be ineffective followers of Christ.

1 Samuel 12:24 says, "But be sure to fear the LORD and serve him faithfully with all your heart; consider what great things he has done for you." God wants us to be faithful to do the things that He asks us to do, whether it's getting up in the morning to write or attend a Bible study, leading a ministry or simply teaching our kids about Him. God does amazing things for us, so we should want to faithfully do the things He asks of us.

We want our kids to be faithful. We want them to complete what they start and hold to their faith. The only way they can learn that is if they see it in us. Where does God want you to be faithful today?

Linking up today with Raising Mighty Arrows.

The Truth of the Resurrection

The women rose at sunrise, gathered their supplies and walked solemnly toward the tomb. I like to imagine it was a gorgeous sunrise, but the women were most likely too miserable to notice. All of a sudden, there was an earthquake, and a fierce-looking angel appeared. Even the Roman soldiers guarding the tomb, the most capable warriors on the face of the earth at the time, trembled in fear.

The angel spoke to the women, saying "Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: 'He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.'" (Matthew 28:5-7)

I bet the women were confused. I bet they were scared. I bet they weren't quite sure what to think. No one had ever been dead for three days and come back to life. Yet, the most amazing part was yet to come. On their way back to talk to the disciples, Jesus appeared to them. Standing in front of them was the man they had seen die on the cross, yet here He was in the flesh.

Can you imagine the joy? Can you imagine the confusion? I can only imagine that the women may have kept pinching themselves to make sure they were awake. The tomb was empty. Jesus was alive!

It's a pretty fantastic story, isn't it? And it's one that can seem fantastic to our kids. With the constant blurring between reality and fiction in our world today, it can be tough for our kids to discern truth. The resurrection account honestly sounds a lot like some comic book stories or fantasy novels that my kids have read. So, how do we get our kids to focus on the truth of Easter? How do we let them know that the biblical account of the resurrection is not just another story they've heard, but something that really happened?

  • Treat it like it's the truth. We've quit using the word "story" to refer to anything in the Bible. When we talk about "Bible stories" with our kids, we're lumping them together with fairy tales, fiction books and things our kids make up. When you're talking about something in the Bible refer to it as an "account" or ask your kids "What did you learn about in the Bible today?" instead of "What Bible story did you talk about?" This is a small change, but it's one that creates a subtle distinction between the Bible and fiction.
  • Don't be afraid to investigate it. The Bible claims to be the truth. If that's so, then it will stand up to scrutiny. Talk with your kids about how people have come up with other explanations for the resurrection. Talk about how realistic those other explanations are and whether those explanations account for the known facts. Teach your kids how to defend what they believe by investigating the Bible. It will always hold up.
  • Offer your kids proof of the Bible's trustworthiness. Over and over again, the Bible predicts things that will happen. And over and over again, those things have happened. The events of the Bible also didn't happen in a vacuum. They happened in the context of history, and historical evidence backs up many of them. Point this out to your kids. Find a few specific examples, including the fact that almost all New Testament scholars -- Christian and non-Christian -- believe that the tomb was empty.

Our kids need to know that the Bible is true. They need to know that the account of Jesus' death and resurrection isn't just another tale about a guy with superhero powers. They need to know that the tomb was empty, and its emptiness is the reason for our hope. Help your kids see that the Bible is true so that the resurrection becomes real to them.

Linking up today with Women Living Well , A Wise Woman Builds Her Home and Word Filled Wednesday.