Author Kara Durbin describes how parents can take advantage of ordinary, everyday situations to instill biblical values and character in their children.
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John 3:16 Ad
Child #1: John 3:16.
Child #2: For God so loved the world ...
Child #3: The whole world ...
Two Children: Everyone!
Child #4: Anyone ...
Child #5: That's a lot of people.
Child #6: That He gave His one and only Son ...
Child #7: His only Son ...
Child #8: That whoever believes in Him ...
Child #4: Will not perish ...
Group of Children: But will have eternal ...
Child #9: Life!
Child #10: Wow!
End of John 3:16 Ad
John Fuller: Well, those voices are from a national TV ad that Focus on the Family produced a couple of years ago and it points to the importance of Scripture, that John 3:16. Jim, that's such a great verse and that was such a great TV ad. This is "Focus on the Family," with Jim Daly. I'm John Fuller and Jim, your two boys were part of that spot.
Jim Daly: Yeah, they were. You know, we did that in about three days, that ad. It was for a football playoff game and we casted that in about three hours, so a lot of Focus kids were in that ad and it was a lot of fun and the greatest part of that is when CBS ran it in that playoff game, we couldn't talk about it. And all of a sudden, when it aired, my phone was buzzin' with people callin' to say, "We say the ad; we saw the ad."
And then the best part, people contacted Focus. They were in sports bars and in the most unusual places [and] said, "We heard your ad come on the television and the whole place went quiet and we all cheered for John 3:16. Now that was funny that it would show up in those places (Laughing)--
John: Yes, it was.
Jim: --but uh ...
John: It was rather unexpected--
John: --I mean, we knew--
Jim: --and well-received.
John: --it was gonna go out to people that don't interact with the Scripture a whole lot. And the simplicity of children--
John: --I think just disarmed people to hear the message.
Jim: Well, it's hard to argue with kids reciting Scripture. And--
Jim: --we want to talk about that today. How do we get Scripture into the hearts of children?
Jim: And we're gonna do that in a very unique way today with a very special guest.
John: Yeah, we have Kara Durbin with us and she's a mom. She's written a book called Parenting with Scripture: A Topical Guide for Teachable Moments. And we're so glad to have her here on the broadcast today.
Jim: She has a degree in elementary education from Texas A&M. Now man, Texas football--
John: Don't hold that against her.
Jim: --we've had a lot of Texas A&M--
Jim: --people through here lately.
John: Yeah, I gotta--
Jim: So, somethin's goin'--
John: --get on …
Jim: --right on that campus, good Christian …
Kara Durbin: We're proud. (Laughter)
Jim: Welcome, Kara.
Kara: Thank you.
Jim: And you know, it's fun; today's your birthday, too, isn't it?
Jim: (Laughing) Well, happy birthday.
Jim: Hey, let me just start with a bigger question. Why is it important? Kids are busy. Moms and dads are busy. Why is it important to begin to talk to your children, maybe young children, 2-, 3-, 4-year-olds about Scripture?
Kara: That is a great question and I think it goes back to the moral relativity that we have in our society today. If you look at the way people make decisions is, if you can justify something, then it must be okay. And as Christians, we have the Bible as our basis. And my eyes were really opened to that way back when I was student teaching in fourth grade. And we were reading a novel and the question for the kids was, was it okay for the character to steal something?
Kara: And hands started popping up and not one kid said, "Miss Durbin, it's actually wrong to steal." Not--
Kara: --one kid.
Jim: --what did they say?
Kara: I can't even remember what the story was and why they--
Jim: If the person was hungry, they--
Kara: --were … yes.
Jim: --should be able to steal.
Kara: You know, and some of 'em sounded good and you know, but I realized that we've got to prepare our kids for a biblical basis.
Kara: And so, that was eye-opening that as we come upon teachable moments, we've got to make use of those and help connect the Scripture to God's Word, so they know where our basis is.
Jim: It does take though intentionality. I know even with my own kids, you've got to be thinking about seeing those teachable moments--
Jim: --and applying Scripture in that moment.
Jim: Because, you know, even for us as adults, it doesn't necessarily come naturally. We've gotta think it through a bit. How do you seize those moments?
Kara: Well, let me start with what teachable moments actually are. Teachable moments are basically any time you use situations to dialogue with your children about what has been seen, heard or done. And I think the Bible even talks about teachable moments in Deuteronomy 6:6 and 7, when it says, "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." And a modern-day example that probably everybody can relate to and when you're sitting in your family room with the TV on--
Kara: --and something flies out of a character's mouth that you wish they had not heard. Now sometimes that's appropriate to just let it slide if you think it went over their head. But other times you know they've heard it and if you've got a kid like mine, you're gonna hear that again. So, you think, oh! We gotta deal with this. So, if you can pause it, you can. If you can't pause it, you might think, you know, talking over this program, I might not have their attention. You can follow up with that teachable moment later at dinner or bedtime and bring it up. So, maybe the character used a bad word. You could look up the topic of cursing and find the verse that says, "Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouth." And--
Kara: --talk about how our words should be glorifying to Him. The verse also, "May the words of our mouth and the meditations of our heart be pleasing." And was that character pleasing? Or maybe the character was disrespectful. And you know that respect is something we have to help encourage and help our children strive for, especially in this day and age. And so, you could find under the topic "respect," "Show proper respect to everyone." And those verses will help you connect that. How could that character have been more respectful? What would you have done in that character's shoes?
Jim: Uh …
Jim: Kara, you know, it sounds simple when we're talking about it here and all of us that are parents have had the experience of doing that at the 3-, 4-, or 5-year-old level, that conversation usually goes pretty well and the kids get it and they're excited. And then you start getting to the 10, 11, 12 age and they're maybe pickin' up 20 percent. You're not sure if you're connecting with that older child. Talk about that distinction between the ages. Do you approach things differently?
Kara: Absolutely, yes. The preteen years that you're referring to, an example that it might look like is, a friend of mine has a daughter, Jessica. And she was upper elementary and she had been caught in a whopper of a lie.
Kara: And so, Jessica burst into tears when her mom confronted her and said, "You're never gonna trust me again." And the mom thought, okay, I don't want her to lose heart. I want to help rebuild this. So, she looked up the topic of trust and found the verse that talks about, "Whoever can be trusted with little, can also be trusted with much. And whoever is dishonest with little, will also be dishonest with much." So, rather than take that negative, you know, dishonest that she had been caught in, she turned it positive and gave Jessica hope and through the power of God's Word in that verse, was able to say, "Showing trust in those little things, just like the Bible says, will help you rebuild trust as we go forward. So, all is not lost. God gives us His Word as a lamp to our feet and a light to our path.
Kara: And it can be positive. We don't want to use God's Word to beat our kids over the head. We want it to be positive. Now I don't have teenagers yet. Mine are 9 and 11. But I've talked with a lot of parents of teenagers to find out what parenting with Scripture looks like as you go on into the teen years. It's a priority; it needs to be a priority. What I'm hearing over and over is, that the younger years are really when you do need to lay that foundation and not to miss those opportunities. But a mom of three teenagers at the time I asked her this, I asked her, "What is her best tool in her spiritual parenting toolbox?" And I waited eagerly and she said that it is praying Scripture for her children, praying topical Scripture for--
Kara: --her teens. And she said that's because whether she could get through to her teen on a particular topic, she knew she could get through to God.
Kara: How great is that?!
Kara: So, I think that's true for toddlers, as well as teens, you know--
Kara: --any age. Sometimes even though we try and you know, we want to instruct them as we should and as we can and as we go along, sometimes we're just gonna need to take it in prayer. And--
Kara: --so, you might go to the topic of peer pressure. That's one that every teen deals with, really any age deals with. And you'd find the verse that says, "Do not follow the crowd in doing wrong."
Kara: And so, you could turn that into a prayer proactively or if you know they're already dealing with that. "Dear Lord, please help Sam not follow the crowd in doing wrong." And God's gonna hear that on behalf of your--
Kara: --your teens and your children.
Jim: But one thing you said I want to reiterate; I think that idea of not being so fortress- like in our mentality, that we've gotta lock everything out. You've gotta teach your children how to deal with the world around them and I like that, you know, certainly you want to shield your kids from abuse—media abuse, if I could call it that. And I think Jean and I, we do a pretty good job of that. And within that situation, you know, we have paused the television and said, "Listen, that ad was inappropriate and here's why as Christians," and then we fill in the blank.
Jim: It can become a teachable moment and so often though, there are other times when, you know, I'm tired or whatever it might be and I just kinda let it slide. You gotta be careful about that, don't you?
Kara: Yes and that's okay. I mean, I don't want anybody to get the impression that I'm just constantly the mom that's walking around quoting Scripture. I think, you know, before I was an author, I kinda idolized, oh, well, they just really know how to do it. And I just want to encourage everybody listening. I'm a normal mom. I've got normal kids. We're not perfect and I don't have all of these verses memorized. I wrote it because I needed it as a reference. Certainly we should have some of God's Word in our heart, but I'm just like every other mom or dad, looking out for those teachable moments. And they do pop up in just a lot of ways. If you—
Kara: --keep your eyes open, I can promise you won't make it through the day without one popping up. So, you've talked about media. Think about all the billboards and commercials and videogames and magazines, all of those things can offer teachable moments, but also situations with siblings and friends.
Kara: If your kid gets in the car after school and says, "Oh, Shelley got in big trouble at school today." Well, you're in the car. That's the Deuteronomy 6:6 and 7. Instead of walkin' along the road, you're in the car and say, "Oh, well, what would you have done in that situation? And what does God have to say about that?" And then, you know, please don't pull out your Parenting with Scripture and look up while you're driving along the road (Laughter), but say, "Hey, you know, when we get home, let's find what God has to say about that and discuss that at dinner."
Kara: So, whatever that is that, that friend got in trouble with, you can bring it back to God's Word.
Kara: That is making use of that teachable moment. That is parenting with Scripture and pulling those Scriptures in to help them understand in a positive way, to go before, because we'd rather learn from other people's mistakes.
Jim: You talk about being that normal mom and you know, regular kids. Where did that point occur where you decided, wow! Okay, how do we do this better? Was there a moment that you remember going--
Jim: --uh …
Kara: My sister was telling me how my nephew had lied about something and she was telling me how she talked with him about, he shouldn't lie not only because she said so, but because God said so and then used a verse about honesty to back up what she was saying. And I thought, wow! That is so neat that she had that verse for that situation.
And I knew she knew how to do that, because that's what our mom did with us. And so, we had seen the positive impact of parenting with Scripture in our lives. We had seen the results. And I knew I wanted to parent like that, as well.
So, I began looking for topics and Scriptures and matching them up as and as my list grew longer and longer, I thought, this is silly. There's gotta be some sort of topical reference out there. Why am I re-inventing the wheel?
And what I found is, there are a number of topical Bibles and references, but there was nothing specifically and concisely geared toward parenting. So, that's when I decided to put this book together, so that it can just be a quick easy-to-use reference. It's only two pages per topic. So, when you are in that moment, you can just run to it and--
Kara: --have it easily accessible to see what God has to say.
John: And you can learn more about the book that Kara wrote, Parenting With Scripture, when you stop by www.focusonthefamily.com/radioor call us here and we'll tell you more. It's 800, the letter A and the word FAMILY.
And again, Kara Durbin is our guest on "Focus" today. Jim Daly, our host, I'm John Fuller and Jim, I told you before we came on the air that not too long ago, my son, who has some special needs, was just lookin' at me and he said, "Dad, a kid I have to sit next to worships Satan. I don't like him at all."
John: Now that was a teachable moment, Kara and I gotta tell you; I'll be honest. I didn't immediately think of John 3:16. Yeah, well, you know, God loves him. But I did try to speak into his life with biblical principles. There are some really uncomfortable moments that we as parents, have to deal with. That may be a little bit different, but what do you do when you encounter something and the Scripture doesn't come to you. You don't have a book in front of you, but your kid's lookin' at you for some sort of insight or guidance.
Kara: Well, I think first of all, it's okay to tell your kids, "I don't know right now, but I'll find out."
Kara: And you can talk to other godly parents and go to resources. So, first of off, we're not gonna have all the answers. But I find that it is such a blessing too, when I have a chance to go to God's Word, that He always has something better to say than I could come up with. And that's the beauty of God's Word. And so, for example, my daughter takes horseback riding lessons and she one day at the lesson, the horse got spooked and it started bucking and she was terrified.
In an effort to avoid getting thrown off of the horse, she strategically threw herself off the horse to try to stay out of its way … terrifying. So thankfully, she was okay, but her nerves were really bruised. And that night, as we were all in bed, I heard this little knock on the door. And she peeked in and said, "Mom, every time I close my eyes, that just flashes before my eyes and I can't go to sleep.
Kara: I didn't know what to say. I was like you. I thought, okay (Laughing).
Kara: What do I do? And so, I grabbed Parenting with Scripture. Like I said, I wrote this. I don't remember all of it. I have to look it up just like everybody else. And so, I said, "Okay, well, let's go snuggle in your bed and let's see what God has to say." And actually, I looked up "fear" and I kept flipping through and I [went], "Why didn't I write about fear?"
Kara: And then I looked in the cross-referenced index and found it's actually under "courage," which is, you know, that's the positive way of looking--
Kara: --at fear. And we found Psalm 46, which says, "God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. And when I'm afraid, I will trust in You." And God took care of her in that moment, but she also knew she was gonna have to get back up on that horse next week.
Kara: That's a terrifying thing after what she had been through. And so, also under that same topic, Philippians 4:14 says, "I can do everything … through Him Who gives me strength." and that was helping prepare her for the next week when she was gonna have to get back up on that horse. But my favorite one for that night--when my eyes fell on this, I just praised God—Psalm 4:8 says, "I will lie down and sleep in peace, for You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety."
Jim: That's a pretty perfect--
Jim: --Scripture at that moment.
Kara: --it was beautiful and as we prayed and talked about those verses and I tucked her in, I left her room, thanking God for giving us His Word. Because I can tell you, nothing I could've said would've been as beautiful and as perfect as what God gave us.
Jim: Kara, you talk about doing this early in a child's development, 2-years-old--
Kara: Uh-hm, yes.
Jim: --I think you started with your daughter and--
Jim: --and that makes perfect sense. It'd be good to know, how do you approach that with a 2-, 3-year-old?
Jim: I mean, 'cause they're barely talking at that point.
Kara: Yes, preschool is one of my favorite ages. I still teach 3-year-olds in our Sunday school to get my preschool fix. And (Laughter) so, I love encouraging parents. It's never too early to start. Even before they're verbal, we know that they can throw tantrums and have attitudes, right?
Kara: So, practice that dialogue even though it may be one-sided, 'cause they're gonna be talkin' before you know it. And so, join me in the Durbin minivan and we'll put my kids back in the preschool phase and you're on your way to a play date. And every parent of preschoolers will deal with the topic of sharing, right? Sharing is--
Jim: Now, I gotta ask--
Kara: --just one of the …
Jim: - -a question before you go on.
Jim: Is your van clean?
Kara: No (Laughter).
Jim: Okay, good.
Kara: Oh, my goodness.
Jim: Yeah, this is a true story.
Kara: Are you kidding me? No, I used to look (Laughter) at my sister and sister-in-law's van and think, "Oh, my." (Laughter) And then I … you know, it's …
Jim: So, sorry to derail you, but I want--
Jim: --authenticity here.
Kara: No, no, we … you know, during those years we had Cheerios crunched up in (Laughter) all sorts of crevices. So, yes, just like everybody else. So, we're in the minivan and we're on our way to a play date and a conversation might go like this. "Kallie and Jake, hey, we are on our way to play with Daniel today. I remember last time we played with Daniel, we had trouble sharing, didn't we? Oh, sharing is so hard sometimes. But what does God tell us about sharing? Does He want us to share or not share? Yes, He wants us to share. And we could pray right there in our minivan on the way to the play date, that God would help us to remember. Now that doesn't mean that it's always gonna go just (Laughing) perfectly.
John: Yeah, tell us it didn't necessarily--
Kara: It doesn't--
John: --end really well--
John: --that day.
Kara: --end well, but it's a start.
Kara: And we …
Jim: Well, and it puts it in their heart.
Kara: It puts it in their heart--
Jim: That's the goal.
Kara: --and it's a proactive and positive way to parent.
Jim: I was gonna ask you that though, because temperament must play into this though, the child's temperament.
Kara: Oh, yes.
Jim: You know, we get lots of responses here to Focus where parents are doin' the right things--
Jim: --but particularly as their kids grow a little older, their kids may not be responding in quite the right way.
Jim: And the parents still are doing the right stuff.
Jim: But you've got to, you know, adapt for that. Talk about that child that, you know, may have a little hardened heart about this, maybe isn't as in tune as he or she was at 4-years-old when mom was doing this in the minivan.
Jim: They're a little older now. Maybe they are teenagers, 13--
Jim: --and when mom tries to do that, they're kinda rollin' their eyes.
Kara: Right. Well, we have some rolling of eyes at our house, I'll be honest.
Jim: Well, that's okay.
Kara: It started.
Jim: It can happen.
Kara: It's okay; it can happen. And so, part of it is, you do have to keep up with age appropriateness. I'm not gonna say to my 11-year-old, "Now don't forget to share today." You know (Laughter), where you have to roll with the times.
John: That won't go over so well.
Kara: It doesn't go over as well. But you know, I can't even remember. The kids were pickin' somethin' out of the refrigerator and one of my kids got the last one of somethin' that the other one [wanted]. And I said, "You know, is that honoring others above yourself."
Kara: And so, you know, it's just kinda putting it in questions. I think a lot of times instead of, you know, preschool we're really more in the instructional phase. But as they grow older, ask questions and really get them to think.
Jim: No, that's good.
Kara: And I think that helps.
Jim: It's a good way to go.
John: And Jim, as we're talking here with Kara, I'm thinking, there's a little bit of conviction here for (Laughter)--
John: --the parent, yeah. (Laughter) 'Cause I'm guessin', Kara, that you might pull a Scripture out and tell your kids and they kinda, if they haven't done it yet, they will when they become teens or uh--
Jim: Most like …
John: --like around that age, they'll kind of put it back at ya.
Kara: Oh, my goodness, yes and that actually is a good thing, because what it helps kids realize is, we don't outgrow God's Word. It is something whether we're 2 or 92 or 102, you know, as long as we're here on this earth, it is here to guide us.
Kara: And so, a fun way that, that worked out in our family recently is, we had to address the topic of anger, because sibling rivalry was flaring up in terms of anger. And so, we decided that was gonna be the focus for our family devotional time that week.
And so, there's lots of wonderful verses under that topic. You'll find Psalm 37:8, "Refrain from anger and turn from wrath." And Proverbs 15:1, "A gentle answer turns away wrath--
Kara: --but a harsh word stirs up anger." Well, that sounds good, but how do you do that? And so, in the discussion section, I talk about the taking a deep breath and counting to 10. Now that's something that a lot of adults are aware of. We don't always do it, but it was interesting to me.
My kids had never heard that technique of taking the deep breath and counting to 10. So, the "Take Action" section was to challenge each other with one of those techniques up there, like the taking the deep breath. So, you can imagine the Durbin family sitting around our den all going (Sound of deep breath), one, two, three, you know; the kids thought it was great; it was fun.
But then relating it to one of those verses how, you know, the way we can get that gentle answer is, sometimes we just need to stop ourselves and take that deep breath, count to 10. And that gentle answer will help turn away that anger. But challenging each other--the parents and the children—so, if you're not sure what do I do with this Scripture once I find it? That's one of the discussion questions that connects directly to the Scripture [that] are there and the "Take Action" sections which help put feet to that. 'Cause we're not just supposed to be hearers of God's Word, but doers of God's Word.
So, that week we challenged each other to use those verses and those techniques. And I'll tell you, the kids got us more than we did them. They uh …
Jim: What's … I could imagine that'd--
Jim: --be a good conversation, to say you know, daddy's struggling with somethin' today.
Jim: What do you think is in God's Word that would help me?
Jim: That'd be a good question. I'm gonna do that--
John: That would've been a good--
Jim: --with Trent.
John: --question to ask last night--
Jim: Yeah (Laughter), I'm thinkin'--
John: --of myself. (Laughter)
Jim: --that might be. (Laughter)
Jim: You know, Kara, as we wrap up here, we're down to the final moments, I'm thinking of the parent who, for whatever reason, there's no condemnation in this, but you know, they just weren't intentional when the children were younger and now they are in the teen years and there hasn't been the development of the appetite to apply God's Word into these situations. What can that parent do to kind of reorient the family around God's Word and get His Word into their hearts?
Kara: Absolutely. Well, first of all, it's never too late. And so, just to encourage you to pray over it. Pray for what it looks like with your individual family. All families are different. Every kid is different. Every kid's gonna respond differently and God knows your particular family and your kids' needs. So, pray over it and then, don't let the fact that it has not been familiar to you, keep you from introducing it to your family. Confess to your kids.
Kara: You know, you're still in my house and before you go off, I want you to see how God's Word connects to our life. And I'm so sorry that we haven't prioritized that before. But this is important and God gives us His Word to connect. And--
Kara: -- to make a point of prioritizing that.
Jim: Well, once again, His Word delivers hope, even for those that feel hopeless. So, Kara Durbin, great having you with us. Your book, Parenting with Scripture. I'm takin' it home tonight. I'm gonna start applying these things. So, thank you for bein' with us here at Focus on the Family.
Kara: Thank you for having me.
John: What encouragement from our guest and of course, from the Scriptures today in a program that received some of the highest response in 2014 of all the programs we presented. And it's apparent that many parents really caught the vision of making the most of those teachable moments with their children.
Jim: In fact, John, one woman ordered the book and made a generous donation after hearing this interview. She said her children are now grown and are following the Lord and she attributes much of their well-being to the guidance she received over the years from Focus on the Family. That's pretty humbling and I'm glad that we were able to provide those tools for her to do the best job she could possibly do. She now wants to pass on this heritage to her grandkids and she's very grateful for the broadcasts like this one, she said.
John: Uh-hm, yeah and I've seen a statistic and I'm sure many have, as well, that 83 percent of all Christians make that commitment to Christ between the ages of 4 and 14. And Jim, we both have kids in the home in that age range. That is really a crucial time for spiritual development.
Jim: It's true and my wife Jean is one of those who within that age range made a commitment to Christ. And that's why we put so much effort into helping parents guide their children in the faith and to get them to the point to make a decision as quickly as is reasonable.
And so, we're asking for your gift to help us continue to bring you programming like this. I would only add, last year 31,000 children were included in the bigger number of 190,000 people coming to Christ here at Focus on the Family. So, I'm thrilled with that, 31,000 kids through Adventures in Odyssey and all the good things that we have for kids here. Uh ... I'm very grateful for that number.
But we need your help today to keep that mission going, to reach children for the Lord. And we want to say thank you in advance when you do support the ministry. When you donate today, your gift's going to be doubled, as well and in that way, we're gonna reach more people and it is so wonderful of these special friends to, I think in a fun way, be able to spur all of us on to give and that's the spirit of it and I hope you will respond. So, for every dollar you give, these friends are gonna match dollar for dollar. And that way again, we get to do even more ministry in the name of Christ.
John: And don't forget to ask about Kara Durbin's book that we're offering today, which has Scriptures and lessons for your kids to help them put their faith into action. Again the title is Parenting with Scripture. And I'm gonna make use of that in our home and you'll find this to be a very handy resource, as well. In fact, when you make a donation to Focus on the Family today of any amount, we'll send that book to you for your use or for you to perhaps pass along to a friend or family member. Our number here is 800-A-FAMILY; 800-232-6459 or stop by www.focusonthefamily.com/radio .While there, order the CD set or download of our best programs of the year.
Our program today was provided by Focus on the Family and made possible by generous listeners like you. On behalf of Jim Daly, thanks for listening. I'm John Fuller, inviting you back next time for an inspiriting message from Louie Giglio. Join us then, as we offer help for you and your family to thrive.
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Kara DurbinView Bio
Author Kara Durbin enjoys continually serving in various roles of children’s ministries. She has a degree in elementary education from Texas A&M University and homeschools her children part-time through a University Model School. Her book, Parenting with Scripture, has sold over 50,000 copies. Kara and her husband have two children and reside in Murphy, Texas.