Bible Reading As Kids Grow

From cover to cover on every page God tells us something about Himself… Look for Him in His Word.  Open the covers of the Bible and discover the great God of the universe, who needs nothing and yet who left heaven to come as a man to die for sin so that we could become His children.
~ from Sally Michael in her children’s devotional God’s Word

Bible Reading as Kids Grow

As you read the Bible aloud, young children can understand Truth in Scripture and can begin to see God’s character revealed.  Throughout the Bible, God shows Himself to be all powerful, holy, the righteous judge, merciful, gracious, loving, faithful,  and true (as well as many other qualities).  In each passage and story, we should be able to ask, ‘What does this tell us about God? How does this point us to Jesus?’

If you are looking for ways to incorporate reading and studying Scripture with various ages of children, check out Bible Reading at Hubbard’s Cupboard.  There, I’ve shared lots of different ways we’ve incorporated Bible reading as a family in the past as well as some simple methods for encouraging individual Bible reading as children grow.

It brings joy to this mama’s heart to be in the Word with our kids as well as to see them continue in the Word on their own!

5 Things No One Ever Told Me About Having Teens

1. They will rise to the challenge.

So many times, I have heard disparaging comments directed at teens – for their lack of motivation and desire to be involved, for being prone to trouble, etc.  Those kind of remarks seem to set a really low bar for teens and young people.  But, can I let you in on a secret?  Teens can easily rise to your expectations..and greatly surpass them.  Encourage them to break the cultural norm of low expectations and remind them to strive to do what Colossians 3:23-24 tells all of us…. 

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart,
as working for the Lord, not for men,
since you know that you will receive an inheritance
from the Lord as a reward.
It is the Lord Christ you are serving.

        Encourage them to  follow 1 Timothy 4:12’s advice of…

Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young,
but set an example for the believers
in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.

        Also, the following books (in addition to the Bible) are great in the hands of a
       preteen or young teen. They come highly recommended by our oldest.
          – Do Hard Things by Alex and Brett Harris
          – Start Here by Alex and Brett Harris
          – Don’t Waste Your Life by John Piper
          – Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus by Ann Spangler and Lois Tverberg
          – The Power of a Praying Teen by Stormie Omartian
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       Encourage your teens to work hard, to pursue things that are worthwhile, and to 
       remember that everything should be done for God’s glory.

2. They can own their faith.

Being raised in a Christian home is a huge blessing, but there is also a hidden challenge.  It is possible to attend services each week, go to Sunday School, memorize Scripture, and be around other Christians without letting all of that head knowledge ever reach your heart.  You can ‘feel’ like you are a Christian just because you were raised in that atmosphere.  However, it takes the Holy Spirit reaching your heart with His Word and Truth.  At some point, you either accept or reject the Truth you have been taught.  Teens, who truly love the Lord and have a saving faith in Jesus alone, are prepared to own their faith and take a stand for what they believe.  They are eager to dig deeper into His Word with others and on their own.  They are willing to share the hope of the Gospel with others.  Pray for the Holy Spirit to convict your teens of their sin and that your teens will truly own their faith in Christ.

3. They want to serve and have purpose.

Teens need to feel valued and to be useful.  Provide opportunities for them to serve in meaningful ways– in the home, in the neighborhood, in the community, in your church, etc.  By serving well, they gain respect, trust, and confidence. Service opportunities provide them a bigger vision of God’s world, broadens their perspective, and builds compassion for others.  Also, teens really do make great leaders and role models…and the younger kids love them!  Encourage your teens to seek creative ways to minister and serve others – especially your more introverted ones.

4. They are constantly learning and growing.

At this point in their young lives, teens are blossoming and discovering who they truly are and what their interests are for the future.  This is the perfect time in their life to question, research, experience, and try out things they may be excited about  – writing, photography, programming, sports, theater, debate, drawing, technology, music, etc.  They need the freedom to attempt new things under-girded by your loving support.  They will learn from both their successes and failures, but within a safety net of grace.  They may never again have this much time, freedom, grace, and assistance to discern the direction in which God is leading them.  Attempt to provide experiences that will lead your teens to discover their interests and passions.

5. They still need you…just in a different way.

When younger, our children needed constant supervision, direction, structure, and ‘how-to’s.  As they have become older, they have gradually gained more and more independence – in their play, in their chores and responsibilities, in their relationships with God and others, in their education, and in their goal setting.  We are still their parent, role model, and protector, but our role is gradually shifting from rule enforcer to encourager, cheerleader, listener, and guidance counselor – continuing to point them to God’s Word as they learn to wisely manage their own lives.  They still need to know that you love them, care for them, and are always there for them!  Be intentional with your time, words, and actions in order to express your love and commitment to your teens.

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    I’m encouraged and blessed as I see our our young teens, preteen, and their friends branch out and become who God has called them to be!  I pray that I am not in a tiny bubble here –  I see great hope in this next generation and how God is raising them up and working in and through them!  May our teens continue to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ – keeping their hearts and minds focused on Him. 

Uprooting and Replanting

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Whenever you face a move, whether God is sending you 600 miles or 6,000 miles, there is a transition – an uprooting and replanting.  As part of our home church’s most recent missions conference, they referred to it as ‘Breaking Camp’ and ‘Advancing’ based off of the Scriptural references in Deuteronomy 1.

The LORD our God said to us at Horeb, “You have stayed long enough at this mountain. Break camp and advance into the hill country of the Amorites; go to all the neighboring peoples in the Arabah, in the mountains, in the western foothills, in the Negev and along the coast, to the land of the Canaanites and to Lebanon, as far as the great river, the Euphrates.  See, I have given you this land. Go in and take possession of the land that the LORD swore he would give to your fathers—to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob—and to their descendants after them.”
(Deuteronomy 1:6-8)

Breaking Camp for our family came in March of 2013, but the steps God used to work in our hearts and minds, before that actual breaking and leaving, began several years before that.

Our family had valued missions. We already supported those who went and we often prayed that God would use our children one day to serve Him. However, as a true type A personality who likes to plan and know what’s coming next, I wasn’t expecting to hear a call for us to go. Between our pastor’s sermon series on the book of Matthew, my daily devotional, and even our kids’ homeschool curriculum, God was gradually pricking our hearts, and unbeknown to us, was preparing for us to be able to clearly see the need and to hear His call.

When it came, His call to me wasn’t a ‘go to such and such a people and spread the name of Jesus’, it was a ‘Will you follow me? Step out of your comfort zone, away from the trappings of this world and trust and follow me. Are you willing to give up your home? your comforts? your security in possessions?’

God was wanting to know if I was willing to obey and to come, follow Him.

And I knew that I wanted, and needed, to be in the center of His will.

Our family never envisioned that we would be able to assist with others receiving the Bible and hearing of Jesus in their own tongue, but once God showed us the need and how He could use the skills in software development He had given my husband, we knew we had to follow His lead. For we have the entirety of God’s Holy Word in our own language, but thousands of other language communities do not – not even a single verse. We knew that we had to take the next steps to ‘break camp’ and be willing to head wherever He wanted us to go – which, we later learned, was just to the east coast of our own country. =)

When we started pursuing Jesus on this journey into missions, we had three children
that  I was homeschooling in grades Kindergarten through fourth, as well as an energetic preschooler, and a precious little guy who was just learning to walk. I was in the throes of motherhood and the thought of all that had to be done to join a missionary organization and prepare to leave was overwhelming. We didn’t know how we could add hours of training and partnership building to what already felt like crazy, busy days. On top of that, my husband had to be away for a full summer of linguistics training to take courses that would prepare him to better serve in his new role with Wycliffe and provide background for his work in writing software for Bible translation.

kids with signIt was a challenging season, but God showed me two ways that we weren’t in this endeavor alone. First, He taught me how to distinguish between self reliance and strength in Christ. He reminded me that as I focus on Him and not on my own limitations or circumstances, God would supply the strength needed each day. For it is His strength that clothes my weaknesses. Christ’s presence and strength sustaining me created needed joy and a greater dependence upon Him! Secondly, He allowed us to see, first hand, the body of Christ work together as God sent friends and our small group family to come alongside us, allowing us to follow through with what God was telling us to do.

So, those were all the necessary preparations for us being able to ‘break camp’.  And, then, after seventeen years of calling our church ‘home’, it came time to say goodbye. Stepping away from the excellent preaching of the Word, leaving our close friends and our small group, pulling our kids away from their own good friends, and even trusting God with our aging parents whom we were concerned about spiritually and physically … that final step of parting and driving away … was hard. There were lots of tears – from all of our family members.

It is now three and a half years later. Between developing mobile apps for sharing God’s Word through smartphones, working out technical issues for language translators, recruiting and sharing a vision with other IT professionals, and communicating with other Bible organizations and IT missionaries, I can see God using my husband to spread the Gospel …and it brings joy.

For me though, as a homeschooling mom of five, advancing hasn’t come as quickly or successfully and it looks a bit different. It’s hard to admit, but, it took me three years to stop looking back, to stop comparing churches and situations, to quit feeling unsettled and searching for ways I could be more involved in the mission, and to finally hear Jesus whisper to my anxious heart – EMBRACE.

I guess that is the beginning of my own journey into the ‘Advance’ part. I haven’t completely figured out what ‘embrace’ looks like yet, but Psalm 37:4-5 has helped greatly.  It states,

Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord. Trust in Him and He will act.”

Delight.  Commit.   Trust.

Embracing seems to encompass those three things!

Delighting in the Lord makes me want to dwell and focus on His attributes – His sovereignty, His goodness, His mercy, and love. Committing gives me a visual of leaning in and not holding back.  And trusting, well, it involves acknowledgement of His goodness and our dependence upon Him alone.

Delight Commit Trust

(free printable Scripture)

So, advancing for me right now is more about developing contentment as I try to delight, commit, and trust- embracing where God has placed our family, embracing the opportunities set before me to serve, encourage, and connect deeper in our new community, and embracing, with joy, the role and mission He has given me within our family – which never really changed –to lovingly support my husband in his role and to train, disciple, and equip the next generation.

As our Lord, Jesus has the authority to reveal the direction for our family and for our lives. He knows what is best, what is enough, and what our priorities should be. My responsibility is to obey Him and to keep following and trusting in Him.

Persevering in the Race

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We began our 2016-2017 school year with an Olympic theme
– “Racing Into a Great Year!”

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Much more important than the flag decorations, Olympic ring colored streamers, yummy special foods, and fun activities, I pray that the kids and I will continually reflect on the verses we studied during our devotional time that day.

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Our main verse was from Hebrews 12:1-3…

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.  Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

What race are we on?  Well, obviously, we are not in an Olympic running race.  However, if you have accepted God’s One and Only Son Jesus as your Lord and Savior, your race is your daily life.  The ‘race’ we are referring to is our daily Christian walk that we are on with Jesus.

We read passages about how to prepare for the race.  To prepare to run in any race, one must know the rules and go into training.  We learned that, as believers, we need to know God’s rules — and those are found in His Word the Bible.  We need to read, meditate, and memorize His Word so that we can know Him, His heart, His desires, and (yes) even His perfect rules for our lives.

We also looked up Scriptures to try to figure out HOW we can run with perseverance – without giving up when things get hard.  Hebrews already spoke of a huge way to endure – by not letting sin hinder us in our race!   Unwholesome thoughts, desiring our own way, temptations, mocking by others, wanting to give in… are all real struggles that can slow us down and trip us up on our race.   Being prepared by knowing God’s Word will help tremendously.   But, it was when we read Romans 15:4-6 and 13 that we began to see how God has already equipped us to be able to persevere.  We can gain endurance through trusting Jesus, through the reading of His Holy Word, and through the gift of His Holy Spirit that He has given to live within us!  He has provided all of these to bring us hope, joy, peace, and encouragement to press on.

WHY do we need to endure?  What is at stake?  A gold medal is not our end goal and prize in this lifetime.  Hebrews 12 says that we are to keep our focus on Jesus!  We look forward to one day being with Him in heaven, united face to face, no sin, no struggles, praising our Lord and Savior.  Don’t be confused, we are not working our way to heaven.  Our ‘reward’ isn’t earned.  It is a free gift from God that is promised to us once we have repented of our sins and accepted Jesus as our Lord and Savior.  But, we are called to run this race well and to bring glory to Him!  He is faithful.IMG_8404

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With Christ as our foundation, we are looking forward to a great homeschool year.
May we fix our eyes on Jesus!

The Favorite Part of Our Homeschool Day

Hands down, my favorite part of our family’s homeschool day is the time when we gather all together and sing hymns, review Scripture passages, use a short devotional to focus on the truths in God’s Word, and pray.

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We call this time Morning Worship, but it can (and does) take place anytime throughout the day.

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We use three binders for our family of seven.  In each binder, I placed several hymns that I desired for all of us to learn to sing as well as Scripture passages that many of us have learned previously.  I organized the binders so that there are two sheets (back to back) inside of page protectors.  Since we use them each day, I am hopeful that the added thickness will enable the sheets to last longer.

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After singing praises to Jesus and reviewing Scripture, we then answer the catechism questions as found in the book Training Hearts, Teaching Minds by Starr Meade.  Next, we read two days worth from the devotional.  For the ages and attentiveness of our kids, this seems to be a good amount for us.  To get our older kids more involved, I will often ask them to look up the Bible verse references beforehand and then they read those at the point in the devotional when the Scriptures are needed.IMG_6692 (2)

We follow the devotional reading with a prayer time.  In addition to praying for others, we are attempting to pray back Scripture read that day and making an effort to pray integrating what was just learned through the devotional reading.

I look forward to this short, enjoyable, focused, and intentional time with my family each school day!

Here is a free PDF containing our Morning Worship Binder materials – hymns and Scripture passages.  Enjoy!

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