Showing posts with label Bible. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Bible. Show all posts

Apr 30, 2014

Getting Children to Listen during Devotions {How to Do Children's Devotions}

As a mom, I believe my most important job is to teach my children about God. There are many ways to go about this: praying with and in front of your children, talking about how God affects your every day lives, having theological discussions with your kids, reading kids' devotionals and other Christian books for children, listening to and watching Christian media for kids, among other things. But I think few will disagree with me when I say reading the Bible with my children is a top priority.

The only trouble with Bible reading and devotion time with young children is...it can be very, very difficult to get them to listen. Many mothers complain to me that their little ones wiggle too much, or argue during Bible reading, or kick each other, or touch each other, and so on, making Bible reading impossible. If you have this trouble with your children, read on. Here's what works for us:

* Choose your time wisely. You and your children are probably at your freshest in the morning. Evening devotions are okay, too, but I find I'm more likely to be impatient when it's nearly bedtime - and my children are less likely to remember what we read.

* Make sure your children's needs are met. If they are hungry or thirsty or need to use the restroom, it will be impossible for them to pay attention to the Bible. So get those basic needs out of the way before you begin.

* Try singing first. Stand up and let your kids sing a hymn or a Bible verse (for example, something from Hide 'Em in Your Heart). Encourage them to stand up, make hand motions, and even dance. This gets the wiggles out.

* Try mealtime. Typically, I serve my children breakfast, and while they eat, I read the Bible to them. I find they listen very well while they are eating a meal (not just a snack), and that breakfast becomes a mostly laid back time, where we can easily discuss what we're reading in the Bible.

* Try quiet activities. If for some reason I can't read the Bible while my children eat breakfast, I usually sit on the couch in the morning and have the children gather around while I read. But they don't just sit; they have quiet activities to do. Usually this is coloring or drawing, but anything works as long as it leaves them free to listen and isn't noisy. Truly, most children seem to listen better if their hands are busy.

* Pick the right Bible. There is nothing wrong with reading a regular, adult Bible to your children. (Although you'll probably want to skip certain more mature sections.) However, I believe it's invaluable to have Bibles around that your children can more readily understand. Not only should each child should have her own Bible that's geared for her level of maturity, you should also have a children's Bible storybook that appeals to all your children - except perhaps the babies and toddlers. In addition, I like to have several children's Bible storybooks around, so we can finish one and - instead of repeating everything we just read - we can pick up another. Invariably, the stories are a bit different and the author's approach lends a freshness to the stories. Click here for my Bible recommendations.

What tips do you have for making devotions and Bible reading with kids more successful?



Sep 27, 2013

Immersing Your Children in God's Word

As I aspire to become a Proverbs 31 Woman, my greatest responsibility is to train my children in the way of the Lord. As a person who did not grow up in a Christian home, this is sometimes more challenging than anything else I aspire to. But one of the greatest ways I can reach this goal is to immerse my children in God's Word. It's also one of the easiest - at least once you get the hang of it. My motto is: Never let an opportunity go by to read, talk about, or refer to the Bible. As Deuteronomy 6:5-9 says:

"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates."*
Here are eight ways I immerse my children in God's Word. Are you doing all of them?

* Read to the children from your Bible. I like to do this at the beginning of the day - often while the children eat breakfast or while they color - both of which seem to improve their listening skills. I have recently taken to reading from the book of Proverbs. It seems there are fewer challenging words in this book, plus it's packed with excellent advice for children. We either proceed or follow this Bible reading with prayer.

* Read to them from a storybook Bible. Our favorites are The Big Picture Story Bible (for the youngest) and The Jesus Storybook Bible. Both do a great job of revealing Jesus in both the Old and New Testaments. We also read vintage The Bible Story (by Arthur S. Maxwell); this series does the best job of covering almost all the stories in the Bible than any other children's Bible storybook I've seen. (Although I dislike all the assumptions the author makes about Jesus' pre-ministry years. I just edit this as I read, though.)

* Have them read from their Bible. For beginning readers, the Hear Me Read Bible is a nice choice. For readers who are a little more advanced, Zonderkidz publishes individual "I Can Read" leveled books that are Bible stories. More advanced readers should do fine with an NIV or NIrV translation of the Bible.

* Listen to the Bible. You can listen to it free at BibleGateway, Biblica, and Audio Bible, among many other places.

* Listen to Christian music. I want my children to know those old hymns; Hymns for a Child's Heart really speaks to them. We also listen to and sing together the memory verse songs in Hide 'Em in Your Heart. It's fine to listen to Christian music for adults, too, but I do think it's smart to have some music that is kid-specific and refers to actual passages of Scripture.

* Use other Christian media. My children have benefited tremendously from listening to Adventures in Odyssey and Jonathan Parks CDs. Learn about other great Christian media for kids by clicking here.

* Memorize scripture together. It is so true that the verses we memorize as children remain with us as adults.

* Refer to scripture throughout the day. This is perhaps easiest when we are correcting our children - especially if we can relate the correction to a memory verse. For example, if one child steals another's toy, you could say, "Is that doing to John as you would have him do to you?" But don't limit the scriptures to correction; use them in praise, too. For example, "Oh, Laura! I know it was hard for you to share with John, but you did a wonderful job of doing to others as you would have them do to you. I know God is pleased with you...and so am I."


How do you immerse your children in God's Word?

* In this passage, the Bible is referring specifically to the Ten Commandants - the foundational information everyone needs to know in order to repent and accept Christ's grace. But I believe it also applies broadly to all of God's Word.

Photo courtesy dvest / 123RF Stock Photo.

May 15, 2013

How to Bring Your Children to Christ - Plus a FREE Lesson Plan

"How to Bring Your Children to Christ is a book every parent should read..."

As a mother, there is nothing I desire more than for my children to know and serve God and be saved through Jesus Christ. Yet I see that:
  • 88% of children raised in Christian homes leave the church at the age of 18 - and don't return (SBC)
  • 64% of "decisions for Christ" are made before age 18. 77% are made before age 21 (Barna).
  • An estimated 4% of Gen Y are likely to be Christians in adulthood. 65% of their grandparents’ generation were Christians; 35% of their parents' generation were Christians. (Bridger Generation by Thom S. Rainer).
I've blogged before about some of my thoughts on why many children are falling away from God. But Ray Comfort, in his book How to Bring Your Children to Christ...& Keep Them There: Avoiding the Tragedy of False Conversion really gets at the heart of it: Many of our churches, our pastors, our youth leaders, and parents have stepped away from the biblical way of bringing people to Christ.

Comfort's premise is pretty simple. While no parent can do anything that will, with 100% certainty, bring her child to Christ, she can follow the principles laid out in the New Testament: Teach the 10 Commandments in such a way the person (in this case, your child) truly feels the tragedy of his or her sin. Then teach that person to dedicate himself to the Bible, prayer, and obeying God.

Comfort does a good job of laying out how you might do this with your child, explaining why it's important to discuss more difficult topics like Hell, and how to explain all of the 10 Commandments in a way that even young children can comprehend. He also offers plenty of ideas for the language you might use, and activities that will aid your "presentation." (My kids' favorite was when I "stole" money from their father's wallet to illustrate that even stealing something worth very little - a penny - is still stealing in God's sight. My daughter, especially, liked it when I took her favorite stuffed animal and loved it so much I neglected all else; this gave her a vivid example of loving one of God's gifts more than loving the Giver of gifts.)

How to Bring Your Children to Christ is a book every parent should read, even if she thinks her child is already saved. It not only helps to ensure your child really "gets it," but it also makes it easier for you to act as missionary in your home - and beyond.

I liked this book so well, in fact, I typed out a lesson plan to use with my 7 year old daughter. Her understanding of faith is very good, and she "asked Jesus into her heart" several years ago, but this is a lesson children should hear repeatedly throughout their life.

The lesson plan is based almost exclusively on Comfort's book, but I found it easier to have all the information in an easier-to-read-as-I-teach format. It also includes links to helpful, free, games and songs you can use to help your child memorize the 10 Commandments. You can download the lesson plan in Word format here.

Dec 5, 2012

Using Scripture for Correction

It's never too early to read the Bible to your children. But there also comes a time when Proverbs 31 Women must start using the Bible as a tool for correcting her children.

I do not claim to be an expert on this topic. I have but two children, both still young. I have no seminary training. But I do know God admonishes me to correct and discipline my children. (See God's reaction when Eli doesn't discipline his sons, for example. See also 1 Samuel 3:13, Proverbs 29:15-17, Proverbs 3:12, Ephesians 6:4; and much more.) 

One of the most loving and biblical ways we can do this is by using Scripture.



Positive or Negative?

It is perhaps easiest to use Bible verses admonishing our children not to do something. For example: "You shall not steal" (Ex. 20:15) or "the Lord hates...a lying tongue" (Proverbs 6:16-17). These are important parts of scripture and should certainly be known by everyone - parents and kids, included. 

However, I feel it's important to temper these more negative verses with positive ones. So if, for example, your child has a problem with a sassy mouth, you might teach her Ephesians 4:29: "Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths..." But I also encourage you to include a verse phrased in a positive way, such as Proverbs 16:24: "Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones." 

I also strongly believe these verses, whether positive or negative, should not be your child's only exposure to Scripture. That could result in a very slanted view of the Bible. So make sure you are reading the Bible to your child every day; be sure to talk about what you read, too.

Not only can verses be positive or negative, but so can you. If you read your child a Scripture with an angry tone of voice, or an attitude that is disrespectful or belittling, you will fail. You might make your child obey for the moment, but in the end, her attitude about the Bible and God will be greatly damaged.



Finding Scripture

There are a few books out there that help parents target Scripture to their child's behavior. Instruction for Righteousness comes to mind, as does The Child Training Bible. And any Bible concordance will help, too. But honestly, I find the easiest tool is Google. Just type in "Bible says about" plus the topic of interest. For example, I recently Googled: "Bible says about mouth" and a number of sites came up listing Scripture on our mouths and speaking. I find this works with most any topic.


Methods of Correction

Pre-Readers:

When your child is not yet able to read or write, I think the best way to use Scripture for correction is to simply read a Bible verse to them, then talk about it. I recommend you read directly from your Bible (rather than just reciting a verse or reading it from some other source) so your child has a visual reminder of where the Bible verse comes from. Be sure to explain any difficult words or concepts. Ask if your child has questions. Then read the Bible verse one more time. 

This sort of correction can be used alone for minor offenses, or alongside other correction (such as a time out) for repeated or more serious offenses. Whether you choose to read and discuss the Scripture before or after the additional correction depends upon your child. Consider when he or she will be most receptive. Try it both ways to see which works better.

Young Children Who Read:

Once your child can read and write reasonably well (usually by first grade), you can select age appropriate/reading-level appropriate verses for him to read by himself or with help. (I highly recommend using NIV, NAS, NLV, or NiRV versions of the Bible so as not to confuse children with difficult language.) Then I suggest you either:

1. Have your child write the verse repeatedly, making sure she reads back what she writes.

2. Have your child memorize the verse.

Either will help your child to remember the lesson being taught. Other ideas:

* Have your child write a paragraph or two about how the verse can be applied to the child's life.
* Have your child act on the verse right away. For example, let's say your child just called his sibling something mean. You might read him Ephesians 4:29, then have him say several uplifting things to his sibling.
* Have your child make a list of things to do/say that relate to the verse. Again, going back to Ephesians 4:29, your child could make a list of words of encouragement he could give to whomever he offended in the first place.
* Do an art project related to the verse. There's no reason this can't be fun! The idea is to help the Scripture stick in your child's mind.

Remember to continue explaining more difficult parts of the verse to your child, and be sure to ask your child if she has any questions about the verse.

Tweens and Teens:

By the time you child is in her tweens, you can ask her to find appropriate Bible verses on her own. Continue to discuss the Scripture with your child, and consider some of the options under #2 (above) to help cement them. Focus not only on helping your child learn about the Bible and what God wants from her, but also on teaching her how to use the Bible as a tool. She should learn how to easily find references on any topic in the Bible, for example.



How do you use Scripture to correct your children?


Nov 30, 2012

Advent: Focusing on Him

Since Thanksgiving, I've been exhausted and sick with one ill child and one very grumpy child. I have a feeling I'll be simplifying this December.

But one thing we will not omit next month is an advent devotional. Thriving Family magazine has a simple and to-the-heart advent activity calender this year. If you don't receive the magazine (which is free, by the way), you can download the advent publication for free, right here. The devotional calendar takes minutes a day - and I know it will help my kids (and me!) focus on the true meaning of the Christmas season.

For those of you who are feeling more energetic, check out previous posts on advent. There are many simple ideas in these posts - as well as more elaborate ones:

 Advent Activities for Kids
 Advent Begins!
Activities to Go With Popular Christmas Books

Sep 14, 2012

Impress Him Upon Your Children

"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates."


Fortunately for we parents, the Bible is full of parenting advice from the true expert: Our Heavenly Father. This little section of the Old Testament is one very important example. Lately, I've been searching myself: Am I truly doing God's will in this area of my life? If not, then I need to change now. My children's lives depend upon it.

I love how the scripture starts by telling parents to look at themselves first: Do we have a passion for God? If not, our children will know it and learn from it. How about you? Do you read the Bible daily? Do you spend time in concentrated prayer with God every day? Do you pray without ceasing? (1 Thes. 5:17) Have you memorized key scriptures? (Deut. 6:6)

Is it difficult - very difficult! - to love and serve the Lord this way when we have small children. And yet what moms of young children need is exactly this focus on God. Yes, it's a struggle. But it can - and must - be done. (For tips on this struggle, please read Developing Your Prayer Life, Let Your Kids Hear You Pray, Keeping the Bible Handy, Memory Verse How-To, Finding Time for the Bible, and Finding Time to Read the Bible Together.)

Then God tells us to "impress" these things onto our children. How do we do that? By talking about God and the Bible constantly. By living like Christ. 

This is, I think, the area where many Christian moms struggle the most. In church and in popular Christian books, we hear a lot about developing our personal relationship with Christ - but we hear almost nothing about training up our children the way these verses in Deuteronomy insists upon.

It is not enough to, once a day, sit down and read a Bible storybook to our kids. It's not enough to pray with them at meals and before bed. No, the Bible says we must constantly talk to our children about God's commands - at all times of the day, no matter where we are. How does one, in a practical sense, do this? Here are a few examples from our household, from a few days ago:

* First thing in the morning, my 7 year old was up and playing. She was being noisy, so I reminded her to be quiet, since her brother was still sleeping. She gave me a mad expression, so we talked about why it's important to put others first, practicing Christ-like servitude.


* After breakfast, my 3 year old lied about having a poopy diaper. I got down to eye level with him and explained that lying is always a bad thing. It's always best to be tell the truth because God hates lying lips (Proverbs 12:22) and lies always cause more problems than they seem to cover up.

* My children and I watched a nature show. Although we have several that are made from a creationist point of view, this one was secular. And, like all such secular shows, it talked about and earth that is billions of years old. So I paused the movie to hold a discussion about this topic. Because we've had other conversations like this, I let my 7 year old take the lead. "What do you think about the idea that the world is billions of years old?" I asked her. "Well," she said, "the Bible says the world is thousands of years old." We talked about how to get that calculation from the Bible, then I asked, "Do you think we should believe the Bible or scientists?" Both children agreed the Bible was a more accurate source; I confirmed that we should always look to the Bible first for answers. Unlike scientific theory, it does not change through the years.

* The show we were watching also contained an ad because it was recorded off television. My children aren't used to ads, to I had to explain what it was. Then I asked, "What do you think the purpose of an ad is?" My 7 year old said, "To get you to buy stuff." Bingo! And, as Kimberly Eddy writes in her book Joyful Momma's Guide to Quiet Times in Loud Households, all ads come down to "the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life." (1 John 2:16)


* Later in the afternoon, we went for a walk. But first, we had to find my 3 year old's shoes. We searched high and low and I was loosing my patience. So I stopped, gathered the children to me, and prayed. It was just a simple prayer asking for peace in our hearts - and to help us find the shoes. A minute after praying this, I found the shoes. I thanked God, out loud.

* On our walk, I pointed out different things in nature: Types of trees and flowers, how the roots of plants soak up water, and so on. But whenever possible, I mentioned God's hand in these things.

* In the evening, as I was making dinner, I grew frustrated by constant interruptions as I was quickly trying to whip dinner together. I stopped everything, looked up to Heaven, and thanked God for children who interrupt me because that means we are home together and they love and trust me. I also thanked Him for food that can't seem to get cooked; at least we have food in our household. While I didn't specifically include the children in these prayers, they were observing.

* After dinner, I printed a Bible verse on a piece of paper and taped it to my desk as a reminder for myself. When my children are better able to read, I will encourage them to do similar things with Bible verses. For now, it's enough that they see me doing this.

* At bedtime, my 7 year old said she had something to tell me that she was a little afraid to say. I encouraged her to always be honest with me, even when it's really hard. I pointed out that Mommy, like God, is always there to listen and help and love, no matter what may have happened. It turned out her confession was minor and innocent, but I took advantage of this moment to remind her about confessing her sins to God so he can forgive her and wipe her slate clean.

In short, we must show our children how God is a vital part of our everyday lives.

How do you follow Deuteronomy 6: 5-9 in your household?



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Jul 30, 2012

Taking Advantage of American Freedom

Americans take a lot of things for granted. We expect there will always be food (reasonably priced!) at the grocery store and that our water will always be safe and clean. We speak our minds without fear of serious repercussions. We go to church without fear.

But one man's wise words on this topic have haunted me for days. I read them in this month's Voice of the Martyr's magazine, in a a piece about a Laotian man who was once a communist governor. When he accepted Christ as his Savior, his former government friends threw him into prison. They tried to beat him to death; they tried to starve him. But he lived 13 years in prison. The details of his story are moving and inspiring, but it was his wise council to Americans that most struck me:

"I want to encourage believers in America to be strong in their faith. I know many Americans have not accepted Jesus Christ yet, but you have the freedom to proclaim Jesus and share the gospel. Go evangelize in the name of Jesus because you can. You have the right to read the Bible, to pray and go to church. Please do that."
(Emphasis mine.)

Throughout the world, there are millions* of Christians who are not legally allowed to attend church. Therefore, we free Christians must go to church. There are millions of Christians who cannot obtain a copy of the Bible, and - should they manage to get their hands on a smuggled copy - can only read it in secret. Therefore, we free Christians must read our Bibles. There are Christians who cannot pray publicly. Therefore, those of us who can, must. And there are millions of Christians who risk their lives by teaching others about Christ. Therefore, we must share the Gospel whenever possible.

Do you?

* According to the World Evangelical Alliance, over 200 million Christians in at least 60 countries are denied fundamental human rights because of their faith.

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May 25, 2012

Combating Bad Thought Patterns with Scripture

Recently, a friend and I were discussing how our children (ages 6 and 9) were developing bad thought patterns. Both our kids have begun saying things like "I'm a bad kid," "I'm no good at anything," "Nobody loves me," * and so on. (And no, they don't hang out together.) I was completely taken aback to hear my young child speak this way - especially since I'm certain no person has been telling her these things about herself. My friend and I both agree our children have developed a habit of listening to what Satan says about them, instead of listening to what God says about them.

 While it's vital for parents to tell children who are speaking this way that the child's thinking is incorrect, that they love the child, that the child is wonderful, and that God loves them, clearly this wasn't enough to get either of our kids. Scripture, we believe, is the answer - whether the one with bad thought patterns is a child or an adult.

The Power of Scripture
When Jesus was tempted by Satan, his defensive weapon of choice wasn't fleeing, nor was it his supernatural powers - nor was it even prayer. It was reciting Scripture. If speaking Scripture was important for Christ, how much more so it is for us! And if we have particular areas of weakness, then we ought to focus on memorizing Scriptures covering those areas.

Finding Scriptures
Finding Scripture to combat bad thought patterns isn't always simple. But often, a search for keywords related to the issue conducted on a site like Bible Gateway helps. You can also Google the matter. For example, you might try the search: Bible verses about self worth. Once you find a website claiming to quote the Bible, I recommend looking up the verses in your print Bible (or at Bible Gateway), just to make sure they are quoted accurately. It's also an excellent idea to read the quotes in context.

Helpful Scriptures
If you or your child is struggling with some of the negative thoughts my child is, here are a few Bible verses to read and memorize.

"I'm just a bad kid:"

"I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; wonderful are Your works, and my soul knows it very well." Psalm 139:14

"For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them." Ephesians 2:10

"Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows." Luke 12:7 

"...for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God..." Romans 3:23

BUT "...there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." Romans 8:1
 


"I'm no good at anything:" 

 "Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will succeed." Proverbs 16:3

"And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind..." Romans 12:2

"Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus." 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

"And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose." Romans 8:28 

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart
And do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He will make your paths straight.
Do not be wise in your own eyes..." Proverbs 3:5-7


"Nobody loves me:"

"But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." Romans 5:8

"Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love." 1 John 4:7-8 

"See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are. For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him." 1 John 3:1 

"I love those who love me; and those who diligently seek me will find me." Proverbs 8:17

"Give thanks to the God of heaven, for His lovingkindness is everlasting." Psalm 136:26

 

"I wish I'd never been born:"

"'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'" Jeremiah 29:11

"Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body." 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

"He [Satan] was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies." John 8:44

"Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest." Matthew 1:28


* If these thoughts are accompanied by depression, please also seek professional help.
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May 14, 2012

"Who Are You to Judge Someone Else's Servant?"

In the United States, Christianity is under attack as it's never been before. Certainly, we have a way to go before our faith is put to the test as it is in nations such as China, North Korea, India, or Iran, yet still - we are feeling a pressure that's new to this country. But what bothers me most about this is how Christians are reacting. Instead of coming together as the body of Christ, supporting and encouraging each other, many Christians are behaving divisively. 

For example, I've read a particular blog for about seven years; the blogger, who was once a Protestant, recently converted to Catholicism. I have zero doubt she knows Jesus is her Savior, and earnestly tries to follow him. But now her blog is riddled with strongly negative remarks about Protestants. I'm sure some of this is a reaction to Protestants chiding her recent conversation; but even so, it's alarming how continuously she attempts to divides believers - especially since she's in a unique position to focus on Christ in an effort to bring believers of different denominations together.

Sadly, this divisiveness is nothing new. It's been happening ever since Christ began his ministry. Paul spent a great deal of time focusing on believers who were divisive, encouraging them to focus on their faith in Christ instead. To the Christians in Corinth, he wrote:

"You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly?" (1 Corinthians 3:3) And while Paul cautioned us not to "...go beyond what is written" (1 Corinthians 4: 6-7), he also wrote (emphasis mine):

"Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters. One person’s faith allows them to eat anything, but another, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. The one who eats everything must not treat with contempt the one who does not, and the one who does not eat everything must not judge the one who does, for God has accepted them. Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To their own master, servants stand or fall. And they will stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand." (Romans 14:1-4)

And: "Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister." (Romans 14:13)

 As Christians, we need to allow God to judge other people's faith. As I often tell my kids, "You can't change him. So worry about changing yourself instead." God commands us to focus on him:

"Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?" (Matthew 7:3)

So let's do that by embracing those who believe Jesus is God's son, sent to die and rise again for our sins.

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Dec 19, 2011

Memorizing the 10 Commandments

Knowing the Ten Commandments - the spiritual bar God holds us to - is a vital step toward admitting sin, and therefore our need for Jesus Christ. That's why the Ten Commandments are such a vital thing to teach our children. But how can we do this in the simplest, most effective way?

* Choose a translation that's easy for children to comprehend. Why make it more difficult by choosing a version with archaic language?

* Explain what the commandments mean. This page might help.

* Regularly read a children's book about the Ten Commandments. My favorite is The Ten Commandments for Little Ones by Allia Zobel Nolan. This book not only states the Commandments in easy to understand language, but it explains how it applies to a child's life. Adult themed Commandments are wisely explained. For example, Nolan explains adultery this way: "When a man and a woman get married, they promise to only love each other, and not to love anyone else in that same special way. Joseph worked for a married man. The man's wife wanted to love Joseph the way she loved her husband, but Joseph said, 'No!' and ran away. You should run away from people who want you to break your promises to God and to others."

Another well rated book on the topic is Ten Good Rules: Counting Book. (But I have not read it, personally.)


* Try learning a Ten Commandment song. Here's an easy to learn version from Garden of Praise; DLTK offers one that's sung to the tune of "Jingle Bells;" and Ministry to Children offers a free music video for kids to watch.

* Read "Are You Good Enough to Go to Heaven" with your kids - or paraphrase it for them. Or have your kids take this interactive quiz "Are You a Good Person," by Ray Comfort and his Living Waters Ministry.

* Make this easy Ten Commandment Train craft. (Here's another version.)

* Print out some Ten Commandment Bookmarks - and use them.

* Refer to the Ten Commandments as they come up in life. For example, if you accidentally forgot to pay for the dog food sitting on foot of your shopping cart, as you head back to pay for it, talk to your kids about stealing and lying and God's Commands against them.

* Remind children, when they break a Commandment, that God forgives us and will help us to do better next time, if we trust in Jesus.

Jun 20, 2011

6 Ways to Teach Kids the Books of the Bible

Although it's not absolutely necessary for anyone to know all the books of the Bible in order, it sure is handy info. Fortunately, there are fun and easy ways for your kids to memorize the books. Here are some great resources:

1. Free, downloadable, printable books of the Bible flashcards.

2. Free books of the Bible downloadable songs.

3. Free Books of the Bible word searches.

4. The Singing Bible CDs. (Not only do these teach the order of the books of the Bible, but they also cover all the major stories in the Bible.)

5. And if you just want a simple list of the books, here's a handy printout.

6. An upbeat, simple video/song, like this one from YouTube:




May 13, 2011

Keeping the Bible Handy

Like many moms, I struggle to find time to read the Bible. I've typed about various ways we can
find time to read the Bible with our husbands or by ourselves, but here's an additional little trick to try: Find the right location for your Bible.

When my kids were younger, I had a devotional area in my living room - just a place to sit where I kept my Bible handy. But when that stopped working (i.e., my kids wouldn't leave me alone long enough to focus), I knew I had to figure out a different routine. After some trial and error, I started keeping my Bible in the kitchen. With my Bible handy, I find I can easily read it during pauses in cooking.

Maybe the kitchen is the best place for you to keep your Bible, too. Or maybe not. The idea is simply to keep it in a place where you normally wait. That could be your car. Or the laundry room. Or even the bathroom. Whatever works for you works for God, too.

Apr 4, 2011

Reading the "Real Bible"

My oldest is just 5 years old, but she often asks me read the "real Bible" to her. By this she means a Bible translation, not a Bible storybook. I'm all for this. Although she may not understand the "real Bible" thoroughly, I believe hearing it now instills it in her heart - a conclusion I've come to after talking to adults who had the Bible read to them as children.

There are inherent difficulties in doing this, of course. The Bible is full of mature themes, and at this point I'd rather not have to answer questions like "What's a virgin?" So a certain amount of preparation or editing-as-I-read is necessary.

In addition, while she sometimes sits next to me on the couch and listens to me read, I find she's actually more attentive if she has some busy work - like coloring - to do while I read.

Lately, we've been reading from The Family Reading Bible, which, although better suited to slightly older children on up through teens, has made my job a little easier. This is an ordinary NIV Bible, but with sidebars containing very short commentary and questions for parents to ask. There are also reading plans in the back to help you work your way through the Bible, or certain portions of it. Last Christmas, we followed the Christmas reading plan, which gave us background on what the Old Testament says about Christ, as well as taking us through the New Testament Christmas story. Now we're working on the Easter reading plan.

Whether you use an aid like The Family Reading Bible or whatever "real Bible" you have laying around, why not start reading it out loud to your kids today?

Jan 3, 2011

When You're Overwhelmed


"...I will cry to you when my heart is overwhelmed."
Psalm 61:2

I think every mom feels overwhelmed at least some of the time. But if you're going through a prolonged period of feeling stressed and overwheled, it's time to take action:

1. Worship God. Nothing gets things in perspective quicker than dropping everything and worshiping the Lord. While you're at it, make sure you're finding time to read the Bible and pray. When we're busy, these things can all too easily fall by the wayside - yet they are often the very cause of our stressed out feelings. We need to spend time with God.

2. Go to church. It sets the mood for the entire week. Go by yourself, if you have to.

3. Sleep. I've argued before that sleep is one of the main things every mom truly needs. Get more rest and you may be surprised how your perspective changes.

4. Do only essentials. There are many good things we can do here on earth, but if those good things are interfering with our mental health or our ability to do a good job at the first task God's given us (to be great wives and mothers), then we need to stop and focus on essentials. Sometimes the essentials are easy to spot...sometimes they are not. For example, while it's probably a good thing to try to organize and de-clutter the house, if it's making you feel overwhelmed, stop. Come back to it another time, when your responsibilities aren't so overwhelming.

5. Cut back work. If you have a job besides your chief position as wife and mother, consider quitting. Analyze your family budget and cut non-essentials; reconsider your lifestyle. Although not ever woman can quit her job, a relaxed, loving Proverbs 31 Woman is a lot more important than having a big house, dinners out, or a subscription to Netflix.

6. Find time for yourself. How long has it been since you took a walk? Read a novel? Went to the gym? Took a soak in the tub? Finding even just a little time for yourself is essential. And if you can combine it with exercise, you'll feel all the better.

7. Focus on one thing at a time. Often when I feel overwhelmed I find I'm trying to juggle too many things. Stop. Breathe. Choose one thing. You'll enjoy life more and you'll do a better job at whatever you're doing.

"For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control."

2 Tim. 1:7

Sep 10, 2010

Be a Bible Smuggler

You and your children can be Bible smugglers, help persecuted Christians throughout the world, and develop a better sense of thanksgiving - all through one free source.

Voice of the Martyrs is my favorite magazine. It's slender, but every time I receive a new copy in the mail, I can hardly wait to read it. The magazine (the publisher calls it a "newsletter," but it's full color and laid out just like a magazine) offers true stories of Christians throughout the world who are suffering persecution. In communist and Muslim-controlled areas, for example, Bibles are illegal, and so is any telling of the gospel. Yet despite this, Christians in those nations still worship God and tell others about Jesus' saving grace. Very quickly, I'm reminded just how fortunate we are to live in the United States, where Christians never wallow in filthy prisons or put their lives in danger because they love Jesus. My problems and worries seem very small, indeed, and I never fail to feel inspired by the perseverance and faith of the modern-day martyrs I read about.

Read this magazine with your children. Or, if your kids are young, show them the photographs and retell the stories in your own words. Talk about religious freedom and the spiritual, political, and religious reasons not everyone enjoys it. Together, learn about which nations restrict Christian activity, and add the martyrs you read about to your prayer lists.

Becoming a Bible smuggler is also an exciting activity to do with your children - and you can do it from the safety of your home. Voice of the Martyrs isn't just about reporting; it's about doing. They smuggle Bibles into countries where they are illegal and offer support to the families of Christians sent to prison for their faith. All through donations as small as $5. A more worthy charity there is not.




Jul 29, 2010

Teaching Children About Jesus' Return

Jesus' return to earth is one of the most important things we can talk to our children about. The Bible tells us many people - even believers - will be deceived just before that time (Matt. 13:6, 22). Those who regularly read the Bible and have a personal relationship with God will have a harder time being deceived - but what about little children? What can we teach them now to help protect them should they live through the end times?

Age appropriateness is important here. For example, I wouldn't tell most preschoolers the earth as we know it could come to an end at any time. This would frighten and upset many young kids. And while it's important for parents to consider their child's maturity before teaching them some things about the end times, it's also vital to not wait too long. This sort of thing is easy to put off, but children hunger for this kind of knowledge. If you're having trouble bringing up the topic, consider reading a children's Bible that includes the book of Revelation, like The Jesus Storybook Bible or The Big Picture Bible Storybook.

Here are some ideas of what to begin teaching your kids when they are about preschool or kindergarten age. As they grow older, you can add more details from the Bible:

* Some day, Jesus will return to earth. (Matt. 13:26)

* Jesus said nobody knows when he will return except the Father. Therefore, we should be wary of those who try to pinpoint the date. (Matt. 13: 32)

* The Bible says Jesus will return the way he left after his resurrection. The Bible says Jesus floated into the sky, past the clouds, and disappeared into Heaven, so when he returns, he will float down from the sky. (Acts 1:9-11)

* The Bible says everyone on earth will see Jesus' return. (Rev. 1:7)

* The Bible also says the lights in the sky will go dark before Jesus returns. (Matt. 24:29-30)



Jul 13, 2010

My Devotional Area

Although Mindy doesn't immediately ask you to clean up your existing devotional area in chapter 10 of The House That Cleans Itself, I chose to. (Chapter 10 is really more about creating a devotional area, if you don't already have one, and making sure you use it every day.)

Here's what my devotional area looked like before:

A cluttered mess! Yet it took me less than 10 minutes to make the space a lot more functional and relaxing:


I removed a lot of clutter; some it went directly into a donation box. The rest, I admit, ended up cluttering some other area of my living room because it's stuff I think I'll keep. I also dusted and tidied the couch slipcover. On the table, there now only sits my Bible, my daughter's Bible, and some devotional materials.

Because the whole premise of The House That Cleans Itself is to change your house, not your habits, I realized I also needed a better place to keep library books and books I'm currently reading to the kids. These are the books that really made my devotional area a difficult-to-use mess.

The answer was pretty simple. I dug up a long, narrow basket I've had forever, but which wasn't serving any real purpose at the moment. I placed this underneath the table and put only a handful of books inside it - stuff we are reading now and nothing we will soon read or have finished reading.

Yay! It looks so much better! My hubby even commented on it. Bit by bit, step by step, is what this is all about.