Making Scipture A Priority With Your Children
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Note: The following is an auto-transcript of the podcast recording.
Hello friends, and welcome to another episode of the Foundation Worldview Podcast where we answer your questions with the goal of equipping you to get the kids God has placed in your care carefully evaluating every idea they encounter so they can understand the truth of the biblical worldview. I'm Elizabeth Urbanowicz, it's your host, and I'm excited for you to join me for this episode today.
Now, the question we're going to cover today, it comes from a webinar I ran recently on raising kids who don't walk away from Jesus. And in that webinar, I just talked through several key things that my parents did, that led to me, my sister, and my brother all seeking and serving Jesus into our adulthood. And this question says, "Can you give examples of how your parents modeled scripture as being of the utmost importance?"
Now, that's one of the things that I said my parents did really well, is that they modeled scripture being of the utmost importance. And so they did this in a lot of ways. So several things that they would do is just making scripture part of our daily routines. My mom, every morning she would read scripture to us. The first thing that we would do as soon as we woke up, is we would read a portion of scripture, we would memorize scripture together at dinner time. At the end of dinner every night, we'd always eat dinner together as a family.
And then at the end of dinner time, my parents would read another passage of scripture with us and then before bed, okay, my mom was intentional, even through high school, she would tuck us into bed every night, even if we didn't want to be tucked in just so that she could pray with us and she would also be intentional about reading scripture with us. So scripture was just a natural part of our family's routine and rhythm.
I mentioned that in the mornings my mom would have us memorize different passages of scripture. Now, we wouldn't memorize super long passages, usually just one or two verses at a time. And we would focus on each verse for a month, which you may be thinking that's a really long time. It is to be working on one verse. But my mom made sure that we knew that verse inside and out, and we would always talk about what it meant and how it applied to our lives.
Now, if I were doing this with kids, I would usually recommend memorizing more than one verse, just because we want to teach kids how a proper hermeneutic, okay? So how to read, interpret, and apply scripture well. So we're always going to want to be reading versus in context. So when I would have students in my classroom memorize scripture, I would usually always make sure that they were memorizing anywhere from two to four verses, sometimes even longer passages.
Sometimes I would have my students actually memorize an entire chapter of scripture and we just build upon it over time. But even though my mom just had us memorize one verse at a time that really ingrained in us just how important it was to immerse ourselves in scripture and to make sure that scripture was transforming us. Now, I can tell you as I'm recording this podcast today, I am 36-years-old. I can still remember passages of scripture that my mom had us memorize when I was five, six, seven, eight.
Those portions of scripture are just forever seared in my mind. And I can tell you that throughout my childhood years, my teen years, my young adult years, my adult years, when those verses are needed, the Holy Spirit will consistently bring them to mind that he has not wasted any of that time that my mom invested pouring scripture into us and making us memorize scripture.
Now, here's a little hint. Did I always have a good attitude about this growing up? No, I didn't. There were some times where I would roll my eyes, which my mom would then correct me as she should have, okay? Or I might even pretend like I didn't know the verse, even though I actually knew it. I was just having a bad attitude, which again, my mom would correct, but even when I had a bad attitude or I wasn't respectful in my response to my mom in this, what she was doing is she was still instilling scripture in me.
Now, I'm not encouraging you just to continually force, force, force, force, force things on your children, but I am encouraging you to press through the difficulty because it's worth it. Now, one thing that my mom did in conjunction with making us do things like memorize scripture, is she made sure that she was always intentionally investing in relationship with us, that she was getting to know us, our strengths, our weaknesses, our likes, our dislikes, that she was intentional at making sure that we had a positive relationship.
Now, that doesn't mean that she catered to our every felt need because a lot of times our felt needs are not our actual needs. My mom was very intentional at disciplining us. She was very intentional at making sure we were doing what was right, but she always was making sure that we knew that she loved us and she loved us as individual people. She sought to understand how we were designed and what things she could do so that we would truly understand her love.
Because if we are going to be making our kids do things that they don't like or that annoy them, we need to make sure we have that foundation of a relationship there so that even if they have a bad attitude, even if they're not really wanting to do this, they understand that we're making them do this because we genuinely love them. Now, not only did my parents include us in reading scripture as a family, but they modeled reading scripture. My mom, every morning before any of us would get up, my mom would get up and she would open up her Bible.
And I can just remember at times when I would get up a little bit early, I'd go out in the hallway and use the bathroom, and my mom was in her bedroom with the door open and she'd be seated there with her Bible. She'd be taking notes, she'd be highlighting, and I just knew that my mom was consistently in God's word. And when she was learning something that she'd wanted to remember, a lot of times she would write out passages of scripture on note cards and she'd stick them on the fridge. And then up on the fridge would be these things that my mom was learning or passages of scripture that she was memorizing.
She would also have note cards on the window that was looking out towards the sink was facing. So when she would be washing dishes, she could look out the window and there'd be note cards again with more quotes from scripture versus she was memorizing people that she was praying for. And so just seeing my mom do this, it wasn't like my mom made a big deal of it was just part of her daily life, and we saw her do that. And same with my dad growing up, the job that my dad had was almost an hour away from our house. And so my dad would leave very early in the morning to beat the New York City rush hour traffic.
And so he wasn't around during the mornings hardly ever. But on the weekends, okay? I remember on Saturday mornings that my dad would get up and he would read scripture and we would see him reading his Bible. And so my parents both had these bibles that were huge because they were study bibles, that they would lug around everywhere with them, but they were also really worn because my parents were consistently in God's word. And when people do things consistently, others notice.
So when you do things consistently, your children are going to notice. I learned this in just almost a way that I wasn't even anticipating, is several years ago I had two roommates and during all three of us were teaching at the same school. We were all teachers at the same school. And every morning before anybody else would get up, I would just love to have the time when it was really quiet in the house just to pray and read my Bible. And I had a really teeny, tiny bedroom. So I would always get up and I'd go to this arm chair in the living room, just turn on one tiny light and just read scripture and pray.
And then by the time my roommates were up, I was done. But I remember one time, one of my roommates was going through a difficult thing and she was sharing that with me and I said, "Oh, you know what? I will be praying for you. And she said, "It really means a lot when you say that." And I said, "Well, a lot of people are praying for you." And she said, "Well, but I know that you really mean it." And I said, "What do you mean?" She's like, "Elizabeth, every morning you get up before any of us and you spend a significant amount of time with God and his word and in prayer. So I know that when you say you're going to pray for me, you actually will."
And that just take me aback because I was thinking, "How does she knew that I do this before anybody else gets up?" But these routines that we put in place, not for show, but just for our own personal growth, for our own love for Jesus, that the people who are with us will notice those things, that the routines that we have in our life speak so loudly. Another thing just to think through that I really appreciated that my parents did, is they used scripture for our benefit, to grow our love and our affection for God, our knowledge of him. They didn't use it in any way as manipulation.
And this is something that's so easy to do in a Christian context, is to use scripture to make sure our children behave in a certain way. I saw this even when I was teaching at a Christian school, that some teachers, if children were disobedient or misbehaved, they'd have them stay in for recess and have them copy a verse multiple times out on paper. And that just always, I was always like, "Oh, please do not use God's word as a punishment, okay?"
Because we don't... God's word is not a punishment, okay? God's word revives our soul. It's breathed out by God. We want to make sure our children understand how special God's word is, and not using it as a punishment. We also want to make sure that we're not using it to manipulate our child's behavior and that we're only bringing up scripture. Well, when scripture says, "That you're to honor your father and mother, or that you're not supposed to steal or that you're supposed to tell the truth."
We don't want to use scripture constantly as a slap in their face for what they should be doing. Yes, scripture should guide our behavior, that's true, but that's not the only purpose of it. When we look at almost all of Paul's epistles, he uses a very similar format in almost all of the letters that he's written in, that the first half of most letters is just sound theology.
He's explaining who Jesus is and what he's done for us and what that means. And then once he's established that foundation, then he moves on into how should we live? So we want to make sure that most of what we're talking to our children about with scripture is not just do this, don't do this, do this, don't do this, do this, don't do this. It's not a list of rules.
Scripture is not a list of rules. Scripture is the self-revelation of the God, of the universe. So we want to make sure that our children understand. Yes, we do learn how to live in a way that honors God from scripture, but that's not the primary purpose or focus of scripture. This primary focus of scripture is God himself. And we want to get to know the God of the universe. I mean, how amazing in it, is it that God has revealed himself through his word?
And we live in a time and a place where we can have access to that word at any time. We have so many bibles, whether they're printed or whether they're digital, We can even listen to someone read scripture on our phones. In years past, you would have to actually pay someone to sit there and read to you if you wanted to hear the entirety of God's word, right aloud.
So we want our children to understand how amazing it is that we have this gift of God's word available to us. There's an ancient Jewish tradition that when a child learns how to read or is first learning how to read, what the parents or the teacher or the rabbi would do, was take a book and take a little bit of honey and dip honey on the book, then they would give the book to the child, and the child would then scoop up the honey with their finger and eat the honey.
And the parent or the teacher or the rabbi would say that knowledge is like this, honey, that it's sweet to the taste and it can be found in the pages of a book. So I was just trying to establish this positive routine for a child, understanding that books are valuable and should be sought after. And I always thought, "What if we did the same thing with God's word? What if one of our kids were little."
We just took out a copy of the Bible and we put a little bit of honey on the cover and we let them dip their finger into this. And if we told them that God's word is sweeter than honey, that it revives us, that it reveals the truth to us so that when our children look at the Bible, they don't think, "Okay, do this, don't do this, do this, don't do this." Yes, we do find that in there, but they think, "Oh my goodness, this is God's very word. It can revive my soul. It can show me who God truly is, who I truly am, and everything that God has done for me."
And I would encourage you. I know that many of you who are watching and listening either have children of your own who are very young, who are five or under, or who are working with children, whether it's a church setting or a school setting with children who are very young, that truly children are never too young to start listening to scripture, okay? My pastor and his wife, when I lived just outside of Chicago, they did such a great job of this, that every night before their kids would go to bed, they'd have a routine where they'd read, they'd read a few books, and then they'd read a story in the Jesus story book Bible.
And then they would read a chapter out of whatever book in the Bible they were going through. I think first they went through the Gospel of John. Then I think they went through one of the Samuels and their kids would be engaged. Now did they had four kids that were pretty close in age and where their kids sit there and listen quietly for the whole 10 to 15 minutes that it took to go through the chapter. No, sometimes they were kicking their legs on the floor. Sometimes they were fiddling around with something, but they were constantly hearing God's word.
And then my pastor Tom, he would always ask them a couple of questions at the end. And so he was just in, they were both engaging their children in God's word. And it's really surprising how much kids can understand. I'll never forget back when they just had three kids, I was babysitting their kids. And so one evening I was going through the whole bedtime routine with their children, and it was when they were going through the Gospel of John and the chapter we were reading, Jesus was praying, and their oldest, who was five at the time said, "Wait, Jesus is praying to God, but I thought Jesus is God."
So she was listening and she had a question. And then I said, "Oh, that is such a great question." I said, "Let's think about that." And I knew that they had also been memorizing the New City Catechism. So I said, "Let's think about that." I said, "How many persons are in God?" And their three-year-old who had memorized that catechism question and answer. She looked up at me and she smiled really big. And she said, "There are three persons in the one true and living God, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit."
I said, "Yes, exactly." I said, "So who is Jesus? Is Jesus God the Father, God the Son, or God the Spirit?" And they said, "The Son." Okay, so Jesus is God the Son. Who is he praying to? God the Father. So Jesus God, the Son is praying in God, the Spirit to God the Father. And so just because they had this daily routine of reading scripture, memorizing catechism, we were able to have this great conversation.
So children are never too young to be immersed in God's word. So I loved this question. I love thinking through what can we do with the kids that God has placed in our care to show them that scripture is of the utmost importance? Well, that's it for this episode of the Foundation Worldview Podcast. But as always as you go forth from here, my prayer is that God will bless you as you continue to faithfully disciple the children he has placed in your care. I'll see you next time.
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