Help your children to understand that the Bible is a love letter from God. Throughout the Old and New Testaments we see how He patiently loves and even directs circumstances to achieve good for his people. Just as a parent would protect and warn a child, God’s Word gives us warnings and protection. My own heart is rebellious by nature. I do not willingly obey rules which do not make sense to me. My sixth grade teacher, Mrs. Joy Biehl, repeatedly told us students that when we call something stupid, it is usually because we don’t understand it. She was correct.
This applies to God’s commands and laws as well as man’s. When I find myself labeling something stupid, it is usually because I do not understand the reasoning behind it. Certain speed limits seem stupid to me when I want to drive faster than the posted limit. A stop sign may seem stupid when there is no traffic, but at other hours of the day it may be crucial to safety. It is possible that man’s laws are arbitrary or reactionary, but God’s laws and principles are perfect. They are for the benefit and protection of everyone. Just as I sometimes consider traffic laws as impeding my driving progress, God’s laws are sometimes seen as impeding our pursuit of happiness or satisfying our appetites.
One day I watched two squirrels in my backyard gnawing on a wooden bench. I thought to myself, those squirrels are looney. The bench was under a walnut tree filled with nuts so ripe they were falling off the trees. They were filling up on “junk” food and ignoring the available nutritious food all around them. We too choose counterfeits. An example of this would be when we choose to enjoy sex outside of marriage contrary to God’s laws, instead of His best way within marriage. When we circumvent God’s way for man’s ways we are not satisfied, but left empty.
Another very important biblical principle to teach is that of reaping what we sow. Galatians 6:7 warns us, “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.” It is vital for us to understand, believe and teach this principle. Most children must experience this to internalize it. Parents must allow children to experience consequences. Shielding children from consequences does not protect them but it cripples them. Consequences are valuable teaching experiences. If a child is selfish, grouchy, demanding or bossy they will lose friends and have troubles at home. Not allowing consequences to occur results in spoiled children. Just as spoiled fruit is stinky, ugly and unappetizing, spoiled children are unpleasant, self-absorbed, and discontent.
As a homeschooling family every school day began with reading from a Bible story book. We had a 10 volume set of these which we read through entirely numerous times with our children. Children need to hear the stories and learn their principles. The story book format presented the stories in an interesting way and in a chronological order using vocabulary designed for juvenile understanding. From Ken Ham of the Creation Institute we learned the importance of clearly stating over and over that the stories in the Bible are not myth or fictional. The Bible is true. Bible stories are a record of true events and real people. Story does not equal myth.
Even after our children were strong readers and read the Bible for themselves we continued starting our days with reading from the Bible story book. Parents must also model the spiritual discipline of daily Bible reading. When children observe their parents guarding their personal Bible reading time, they will see that we value it ourselves.
Bible memorization is extremely valuable and very easy for most children. Our second son, David, made a new friend on the next block who invited him to go along with him to AWANA club at his church. Our son loved it and soon all four of our children were attending with the four children of the neighboring family. We are very thankful for the years these faithful neighbors took our children to AWANA at their church. They had fun with the Olympic and pine wood derby competitions , the wacky dress-up events and many new friends while the Word of God was penetrating their hearts.
Later three of our children switched their mid-week church activity to the next door church’s children’s programs. Again our number two son became very involved which eventually led to his involvement with their youth ministry. Even though we had a youth ministry at our own church which I led, this secondary involvement was very beneficial for him and later also for our daughter. At this youth group David was more of an individual and not just another Sergeant. They were allowed to participate as much as they desired, as long as it did not conflict with our church. David had his first mission experience with this neighbor church.
With some effort parents can find many venues to aid with spiritual formation.**