When You Sit in Your House: Engaging God’s Word in Families (Part Three)
If you have not read Part Two of this series, we encourage you to do that HERE. If you have, please continue below!
“Write these commandments that I’ve given you today on your hearts. Get them inside of you and then get them inside your children. Talk about them wherever you are, sitting at home or walking in the street; talk about them from the time you get up in the morning to when you fall into bed at night.” Deuteronomy 6:6-7
Continued from Part 2…
- If you have children under the age of 12, look for an illustrated children’s Bible to read with them. There are many children’s Bibles available for English speakers. In fact, there are so many that your head may spin as you try to choose one. I like some of the children’s Bibles published by Lion Publishing in the United Kingdom. I like them because the drawings go well with the stories.Many publishers now publish cartoon and comic style drawings in children’s Bibles. The problem with cartoon and comic Bible characters is that both children and adults associate cartoons with make-believe characters. It’s good to help children as early as possible to understand that the people we read about in the Bible were real people, living in real places. In the stories of the Bible God entered into the everyday reality of these people. A Bible with good illustrations helps children and adults get a better sense of what things might really have been like for the people to whom God appeared.
- Whether you are reading the Bible with young children or with adults, I recommend that you introduce the practice a little bit at a time. It would be better to read too little than to read too much. If you think of the word of God as a medicine for the soul, then you don’t want to give people an overdose. It’s hard for us to change our habits in any area of life, and the habit of reading the Bible is no exception. Start small.
One way to do this is to choose a small section of scripture and read it slowly over a week’s or a month’s time. For example, you might want to read the Beatitudes from Matthew 5:1-12 which Jesus spoke in the Sermon on the Mount every day for a week or two. The purpose of such reading is to allow yourself and those in your family to get familiar with God’s words.
Another way to do this is to write memorable scripture verses on index cards. You can find these verses with a search for “favorite Bible verses” on the internet. Create a collection of these cards for your family. Read one card aloud before you pray at meals. The purpose of this is not to explain the scripture, but simply to allow the words of scripture to be heard and remembered in your family conversation.
- Talk about the words of scripture among yourselves. Talk about them at breakfast, around the dinner table, while you are driving around town or on a road trip. Weave them into your prayers. Post them on your refrigerator. Hang decorated versions of them in frames on the walls of your home. Turn them over in your mind and heart. Let them influence your thinking, speech, and actions.
- Here is a strong warning. Beware of Bible experts in your family! Don’t become a Bible expert like the scribes and the Pharisees who argued with Jesus because they thought they knew everything about the scriptures. Don’t try to explain everything you read in the Bible to your family. Let people ponder God’s words and allow for questions that arise without feeling you need to answer all of them. And don’t allow others in your family to play the role of Bible expert. Nothing will kill the joy for the members of your household more than this. God’s word is very deep and multi-faceted. Your purpose is not to explain it, but to allow your family to hear it, to give God’s word the freedom to shape the life of your family.
- Finally, don’t give up because you find this difficult. You may find it feels awkward to do this in your family when you begin. Children may fidget and poke each other or make trips to the bathroom. Your spouse may become frustrated or annoyed because the children are not attentive. You may find your family does well listening to a reading one day, but there is chaos on another day. Celebrate small victories. If you can only succeed at reading the scripture with your family one day a week or one day a month, celebrate that, but don’t quit in discouragement. It can take years for members of your family to appreciate the great value of this practice. Don’t lose sight of the goal, which is the introduce your family to the word of God. Give time for God to work his word into your life and the lives of your family members.
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Because we home schooled, my wife, DeAnn often used scripture set to music or in a little song. This was a part of the daily school day to sing these little songs that were instructive in God’s word. It is amazing how a song will stick in your memory! Some of these songs came from Veggietales which was also a great source for young children.