What if I told you it could be natural – and enjoyable? It can be. This episode will show you how.
Main Topic: The Most Natural Way to Help Your Kids Love the Bible
As with Episode 29, this episode is taken from my second book. And as with that episode, I decided to use the entire text of one of the chapters as the “script” for this week’s podcast episode.
On the podcast, I do a short intro, and then the rest of the episode (except for the Listener Question and the Resource of the Week) is the entire second chapter of the Like Ice Cream: The Scoop on Helping the Next Generation Fall in Love with God’s Word.
For those of you who prefer to read, I’ve pasted the entire text of that chapter below. Enjoy!
Principle Two: Talk about it.
“There is no such thing as a worthless conversation, provided you know what to listen for.”
James Nathan Miller
People talk all the time, about everything. Sports. Weather. School. Activities. Technology. Friends. Movies. Music. You name it – we talk about it. When I think about the different hobbies, foods, or sports teams that I love, I can typically trace it back to conversations I had with someone who loved that hobby, food, or sports team before I did. Simply put: Whatever we talk about we become more interested in.
Understanding this principle, let’s return to Deuteronomy 6
These commandments that I give you today are to be upon 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. (Deut 6:6-9, emphasis added)
As we saw in the previous chapter, God reminds us that the starting point for helping the next generation fall in love with His Word is us. He then makes the statement “Impress them on your children.” The rest of the paragraph – and the remainder of this book – looks at how to do that.
Immediately after saying, “Impress them on your children,” the next sentence challenges us to talk about God’s Word. And just to make sure we don’t say, “We talk about the Bible at church, youth group, and Sunday school, so we’ve got that one covered,” God makes it clear that talking about God’s Word is an all-the-time-and-everywhere habit we need to develop.
- When you sit at home. (Hmmm….Doesn’t sound like just church, youth group, and Sunday school.)
- When you walk along the road. (You mean out in the real world?!).
- When you get up. (How do you start the day with your kids?)
- When you lie down. (What does your last conversation of the day with your kids look like?)
We are going to explore the second one (“…when you walk along the road…”) in the next chapter, but the first, third, and fourth all happen in the home. What are the conversations in your home like? How often are there intentional conversations about God and His Word in your home?
When you sit at home…
I don’t know about you, but with traveling, writing, Kari’s teaching, school work, play dates, Sarah’s soccer, Caleb’s soccer, and Hannah’s…well…two-year-old-ness, I can’t say there is a lot of time that I would describe as “when you sit at home.” That said, our busy schedule does not excuse Kari and me from obeying God’s call on us as parents. Rob Rienow talks about the same thing in his terrific book, Visionary Parenting:
As I wrestled with this simple instruction from God to talk about His Word with my family at home, I told Him in prayer that, because of my schedule, I did not have time for that! God was far more gracious with me than I deserved. I felt God respond to that moronic prayer with a firm but gentle message. “Rob, if your schedule is preventing you from sitting at home and talking about Me with your family, then the schedule you have chosen is causing you to sin.” I was being disobedient to the very first action point and responsibility that I had as a parent. Ouch!
We are certainly far from perfect examples of this, but we are striving to weave spiritual conversations into the everyday mayhem of the Ferrin Family Home. Sometimes it is simply a quick mention of our gratefulness to God for giving us a warm house on a cold, winter night. Other times it is a much longer conversation about our attitudes, kindness, compassion, or generosity (just to name a few). Frequently, it is woven into those teachable moments when siblings are pushing the buttons only they know how to push!
One thing we have learned is that the more we talk about the lessons in Scripture, the more our kids bring it up. This ends up leading to more conversations. And when they start the conversation, they are infinitely more apt to listen and not just see it as Daddy and Mommy teaching us another lesson.
Here is one of the more humorous times this happened. The conversation went something like this:
Sarah: Ouch! Daaaaaaddddddy….Caleb hit me!
Me: Caleb. Did you hit your sister?
Me: Why did you hit her?
Caleb: Well, the Bible says “Do to others as you would have them do to you.” She hit me first, so I thought she wanted me to.
Me: (Trying not to chuckle at the terrific logic of it all.) Caleb, that’s not exactly what that means.
And off we went into a conversation about how you want to be treated, not just mirroring the actions of other people. But the encouraging thing for me was that Caleb would even think about what the Bible has to say. Somewhere along the line, we had talked about that. And it stuck.
When you get up…
Let me say right up front – mornings are tough. There is simply not much time between when the kids wake up and when we head out the door to school. In our home, we have not gotten the routine down yet, but we are working on it.
I received one email from someone with nine-year-old twins who has been reading the Bible to her kids every morning since they came home from the hospital. We are not there yet. But we are trying. It is too important not to try.
So frequently, what happens in the morning sets the tone for the day. A harsh conversation, bad traffic, or oversleeping can make us feel “off” for hours and hours. However, the opposite is also true. Having a good conversation, a delicious cup of coffee, or some quiet time to think and pray can certainly help me feel “on” throughout the day. The same is also true with our kids.
A few practical questions to help us think about how we might live this out in the mornings:
- What if we made it a point to read one or two encouraging verses from the Bible as our kids chomped down their bowls of cereal?
- What if we established a “verse for the day” or “verse for the week” routine where the whole family was internalizing and discussing the same verse?
- How would our kids handle their relationships with their friends differently if they were reminded each morning of who they are in Christ? Reminded that they are valuable, cherished, and of immeasurable worth in your eyes – and in the eyes of the One who created them, died for them, and lives with them.
- What if we read a short piece from one of the many good family devotional books that are out there?
- What if we spent even a few minutes asking our kids how we could be praying for them that day? Or better yet… actually praying with our kids before they leave for school, soccer, work, etc.?
My guess is that it would not only mean a whole lot to our kids, but it would go a long way toward putting us in the right frame of mind to tackle the day!
When you lie down…
There is just something about night time. All throughout my life, I can look back to so many late-night conversations that had a lot of meaning. Sometimes those conversations were with my parents as they sat on my bed and we “processed” the day. But not always. Conversations with my mom frequently happened as I sat at the kitchen counter and she baked something or prepared for the next day.
Many times when I was in high school, I would walk into my dad’s office before heading to bed and plop down into the chair near his desk. One of us would ask a question or start a story. The next thing we knew it was an hour later and off I would head to bed.
In college, late at night was when all of us know-it-all 20-year-olds solved every major world problem. We talked about faith. We talked about life. We talked about sports. We talked about the fairer gender. And no kidding, if these conversations weren’t in the dorm over pizza, we were at the on-campus hangout (called The Cave) eating ice cream!
The importance of the late-night conversations continued when I became a youth pastor. You want to get teenagers to talk to you? Any youth pastor will tell you that all it takes is to provide pizza or ice cream sundaes starting at 10 pm…or later! I guarantee you that they will talk longer than you can keep your eyes open.
And now that we have little ones in the house, we continue to see the specialnessof the hour before bed. Before going on, let me be up front about the fact that more often than I would like to admit, the hour before bed is very frustrating. All three of our kids have mastered the art of The Bedtime Stall. You know what I am talking about. You have seen it. You have experienced the endless stream of I’m thirsty. I have to go the bathroom. I’m not tired. Just one more book…pleeeeeeease?
That said, I still believe that the minutes before we turn off their lights hold a special opportunity for us to connect with our kids. Our kids are much more cuddly at bedtime than any other time. They want to be near us. They want us to read to them.
The temptation – since I am frequently tired and just want to go sit down on the couch – is to read a book as quickly as I can, say a 10-second prayer, and head out of the room. But in an occasional moment of clarity and wisdom, I will ask them a question, read them a Bible story, or just listen to them tell me about their day. I can’t remember a single time I regretted spending the extra time.
Recently, I have started having the last thing I read to them be one of the Psalms. So many of the Psalms are honest conversations – for good and for bad – which the psalmist had with God. Just last night I read Psalm 138 to the kids, which ends with the following words:
The Lord will fulfill His purpose for me;
Your love, O Lord, endures forever –
do not abandon the works of Your hands.
Then I simply said, “As you go to bed tonight, just remember that everything God wants you to do and be, He will make sure it happens. God is with you and loves you…forever.”
We didn’t have an earth-shaking spiritual conversation after I read. In fact, the kids didn’t say anything. But that was okay. They heard their father sharing the words – and ideas – of Scripture in a way that was encouraging, affirming, and relational. If our kids are going to grow up believing that the Bible – and more importantly, the Author! – is relational, then they need to see us talking about it with them relationally.
If the Bible is just something we talk about when it is time to “study” it, then it will never be relational to them. They will never love it. But if we have conversations about God’s Word in the morning, at night, and in the normal ebb and flow of our day, they will come to know the Bible as something relevant, real, and enjoyable.
Listener Question (Listen at 18:23)
I’m a pastor. Does my “work” time in the Bible count as my “personal” time in the Word?”
For me, I discovered several years ago I need to separate the two. The reason comes back to our purpose for being in the Word. If it is primarily relational (as I believe it should be), then we need to have time in the Word where our focus is on hanging out with God. Hearing from Him. Sharing with Him. Discovering who He is and who we are. Recognizing where change needs to occur. And the list goes on…
However, when I tried to combine the two, I realized that my focus was way more on how I was going to teach it, what analogy I was going to use, etc. rather than on God Himself. Until I set aside time – usually in a completely different section of Scripture – I had a hard time taking off my “teacher/preacher” hat and putting on my “child of God” hat.
If you’re in vocational ministry, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this in the comments. Truly!
Can I answer your question on a future episode?
I have several ways you can submit a question – or an idea for an episode topic:
- Call the dedicated Podcast Voicemail Line: (425) 522-3487
- Shoot me an email: podcast– at – keithferrin.com
- Record a voicemail – up to 90 seconds – at www.speakpipe.com/keithferrin.
- Send a message through my Facebook Page
- Send a message though my Contact Page
- Leave a comment here on this page.
Resource of the Week (Listen at 22:40)
The Resource of the Week is TruthForKids.com. This website was developed by Dave Strehler. He’s written several books and has a heart for seeing young kids begin their journey toward loving God and His Word at a very early age.
Some of his books are now out of print – so he GIVES them away for free on his site.
Here are a few of the resources you’ll find:
- Downloadable craft ideas
- Teaching resources
- Kids devotions (Including a 50-day online devotional for preschoolers. Very cool.)
- Bible activity sheets
- Did I mention the whole thing is FREE?
I might need to devote an entire episode to interviewing Dave. He’s created a ton of resources – and gives them away. Love it.
Check out TruthForKids.com. You’ll be glad you did!
Links (People, Info, and Resources) from Episode 30:
- Direct link to Like Ice Cream: The Scoop on Helping the Next Generation Fall in Love with God’s Word.
- Podcast Episode 29: If you want your kids to love the Bible…start here.
- Online Devotional for preschoolers
- Direct link to this podcast on iTunes.
- A Step-by-Step Guide to Subscribing to Any Podcast on Any Device (with screen shots)
- Podcast Art – Pipe & Tabor (Vancouver, WA)
- Intro/Outro Music – Dan Carollo of CeltoGrass Music