"I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against [God]." Psalm 119:11
As a child, my biblical training consisted of mealtime grace and bedtime prayers. It wasn't until church youth group that I discovered a wealth of inspiration and encouragement awaited me within the pages of God's Word. I knew that when I had my own children, I wanted to do things differently. My desire was for them to grow up knowing about real miracles, the wonderful heroes of faith and God's love for a fallen world – a desire that is a biblical mandate. Deuteronomy 11:19 states, "Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up."
Jesus also had strong views about the way we include our little ones. In Matthew 19:14 we read, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these."
Although I'd resolved to educate my children in the Scriptures, I wasn't sure where to start. I found out through a church about the availability of many resources. Starting with a toddler Bible, I worked my way up to children's Bibles that I found at my local Christian bookstore, where I also obtained pertinent audio and video supplies.
It was exciting for me to see how my children grew in their understanding of who God is and how much He loves them. When my children hit their middle school years, I hit a wall. They were too old for picture books, yet not ready to independently delve into Bible text. That's when I learned about Precept Ministries' program for older children.
Precept Ministries reaches out to over 80 million people in 150 countries in 70 languages every day for the sole purpose of establishing people in God's Word. Today this thriving ministry is providing yet another tool for biblical studies. They publish a 17-book study course for children called, "Discover 4 Yourself." Each book continues with the commitment for inductive study but has found creative ways to reach "Dora the Explorer" and "Spiderman" fans that hunger for adventure.
For instance, in the book Boy, Have I Got Problems, readers take on the role of an advice columnist, educating others on how to resolve common childhood problems by relying on helpful insights from the text of James. All the books provide plenty of fun puzzles, games and activities designed for children ages 9-12. Through these resources, I was able to expose my kids to the Word each day in addition to taking them to church.
In the past I had fallen into the trap of believing that I needed to coerce my children into becoming Christians. According to Kay Arthur, co-founder of Precept Ministries, I wasn't alone in my confusion: "Parents are told if you don't get a child when he is young and 'make' him into a Christian, then you're going to miss him and he's not going to be saved. If this is true then salvation is not from God. And so what's happening is we're pushing salvation and bringing children into a false security, and telling them that they're saved because they prayed a prayer. And they're not saved."
Amidst so much responsibility, it can be tempting for mothers and fathers to believe that our children's salvation falls into our realm of obligation. I've discovered that our responsibility is to instruct them in how to approach biblical study and interpretation. It is the Holy Spirit that saves souls, and while this fact does not exonerate parents from all liability, it certainly does lighten the burden.
It must be stated that our task is not only scriptural instruction, but also role modeling. Training my children wasn't only about teaching them the words of God, but about demonstrating the Christian life right here at home. It involved a daily desire on my part to live out my faith and the willingness to apologize to God and to my children when I fell short. There were good days and bad days, but all days ended with forgiving each other and moving forward with the grace of our Lord.
One day I was wondering if all of my teaching efforts were paying off. Did they really understand? Was I doing it right? When my son came up to me after one of our Bible studies and proclaimed, "God is so fun!" I knew this was a good indication that I was on the right track.
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