How many of you remember a time when you were little when your parents would have you pick out a book and read it with you before bed? You know, when you were decked out in footie pajamas, and could hardly see over the kitchen counter. My family didn’t have a designated reading time when I was little, but those times that we did sit down with a book were so special to me. I remember one book in particular. It was a small blue hardback book, covered in some type of cloth. I have no idea where this book has gone or where I could find another. But I remember flipping through the pages and reading the nursery rhymes as I grew older in age. I also remember special times of having my dad read to me even when I was in middle school (I had a hard time reading the unabridged version of The Count of Monte Cristo, and it was one of my dad’s favorites). That time we shared together was very special and brought us closer than we already were. I also remember spending the night at a close friends house one time and sitting down with them during a family devotional time.
Parents, I beg you to spend such precious time with your kids! Jason and I both are very adamant that God’s Word should change your life, and that’s Biblical too. And it does just that if you are constantly reading it and learning to apply it to your every day life. Like with anything else, the more you repeat something, the more learned or the more of a habit it becomes. That’s why little kids do number drills in school, or math uses flash cards over and over, and teachers often say “repeat after me”. Studies have even proven the fact that the more you repeat something, the more you retain that knowledge. It becomes “second nature”.
If anything should be second nature in our lives, it should be God’s Word. It doesn’t just happen. In fact, it takes lots of work if you really want to know the Word well. If you haven’t started to really know the Bible yet, start with small steps first. If you’re too ambitious, you may never even complete your goal. Did you know that you only have to read 3-4 chapters a day to read the Bible through in a year? That’s only 10-15 minutes a day, depending on how fast you read.
So why not make this a habit with your whole family? No time is too early to start reading the Bible to your children. In fact, it’s commanded in Scripture! Deuteronomy 11:19 says, “Teach them to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up.” God’s Word should permeate every part of your lives! So whether your children haven’t even been born, they’re newborns, toddlers, young children, preteens, or teens, read God’s Word together. It is the only true foundation to any family and any life.
As parents and future parents, we should be in the business of raising wise, godly adults, not merely “good kids”. Following Christ has nothing to do with good behavior. If it did, then Jesus did not set a good example, because He had a habit of breaking the rules (for a guy who’s not supposed to do anything on the Sabbath, He sure did a lot of it!). Following Christ has everything to do with surrendering your life to Christ and allowing the Spirit of God, Who dwells inside of you, to rule in your life. How can we live such lives if we don’t even know anything about God? Child rearing trends and fads will go in and out of style, but God’s Word is timeless and true. If there’s one thing that you should do as a parent, this is definitely it!
Find out some general benefits of reading to your kids from an experienced parent here.
Each new year comes fully equipped with its share of resolutions and commitments. How many times have you begun the year and sworn to be a better student, to be a better spouse, to do better with your finances, or to lose weight? Whether or not you make an official “New Years Resolution”, in the back of most everyone’s mind is the desire to be better and do better.
I begin this year with two resolutions. The first is to get back on track with losing weight. When Jason and I got married we were very committed to cutting calories and eating healthier. We lost quite a bit! But ever since we moved to PA for full-time ministry we’ve fallen far off the wagon (living in limbo didn’t help the matter). So here we are again starting fresh! The second thing I want to see myself accomplish this year is to be more prepared and more educated. And to be quite honest, I think this is something everyone needs to spend a little more time on if you don’t already. This isn’t a shotgun reaction to the onset of the new year. Rather, it’s a yearning to grow!
I am currently 23 years old, and 21 of those years were spend in schooling. For 90% of my life I sat behind a desk and absorbed all kinds of information, most of which I sadly no longer remember. I didn’t realize how much I loved learning until the summer of 2010, right after I graduated Liberty University. I found myself without a purpose – I’d go to work, come home, do nothing all night, and then start all over again. I missed learning! I think it’s important to keep that yearning to learn instead of becoming complacent. Speaking of complacent, I have to confess that for the past few months that has been my attitude. I think I got so caught up with all my life changes that I neglected reading or any kind of learning. This year I am going to change that and educate myself on a regular basis.
So lets combat complacency together this year! Here are three key things to keep in mind on a day-to-day basis:
1. Educate yourself in spiritual things (as well as general knowledge). I feel like this one is pretty self-explanatory. How can we claim to be doing student ministry if we aren’t fostering spiritual growth in ourselves? Read the Bible daily and study it! If you don’t know how to study the Bible, learn. Start getting books that will challenge you to think deeper, grow stronger, and do better. Jesus was well-educated, and not just because He is God! He chose to spend time in the temple learning and challenging Himself (and His teachers!). His parables reflect a vast array of knowledge. He could relate to everyone! Paul was educated on the culture (Acts 17) around him, and was definitely educated on the things of God. Why else would the New Testament be filled with books that he authored? The greatest leaders today and throughout history have proven themselves to be well-educated and well-read.
2. Keep your brain active. I’m sure you’ve heard of the studies out there that have proved you live longer and healthier if you keep your brain active – one of the many benefits keeping your brain active can offer. Just like your body needs exercise, so does your brain! Maybe for you that’s little things like playing Sudoku to keep your brain thinking. But I suggest you go beyond that and maybe even read something above your level. Read something that is controversial or that you disagree with to stay well-informed. Yes, you need to grow spiritually, but you need to grow mentally as well or your spiritual growth may be stunted.
3. Be prepared. Paul tells timothy in 2 Timothy 4 to “preach the word; [and] be ready in season and out of season; [to] reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.” This principle stands true whether or not you are a teacher of Scripture! We need to know Scripture in and out. Part of that is also reading up on others’ insight regarding Scripture and its application in every day life. Scripture can be useful in a number of ways (reprove, rebuke, exhort, etc), but we have to know it well to handle it well.
Whether you are a youth worker or a parent, I hope you join me in this quest to learn. It has to become a yearning, not simply to become puffed up with head knowledge, but to learn more about God and who He wants you to become.