Tag Archives: Bible verse

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Helping Your Kids Build a Devotion Time with God

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by Samantha Hanni

One day when I was about nine, my mom came home from Mardel with a book for me. It was my first devotional book, with a colorful cover and fun stories that drew me in each day. I have vivid memories of this book (for some reason) and to this day, I can remember certain topics from those books, and their takeaway points became the foundation of my understanding about God and his plan for my life.

As a long-time lover of books, words, and Jesus, one of my goals has been to write a devotional book that impacts the next generation the same way the devotional books I read impacted me. I’ve worked with kids and teens a lot over the past 10 years. I know what an impact a regular devotion time with the Lord has meant in my walk, and I want to empower families to build meaningful, lasting quiet time habits with their kids.

While leading a youth small group earlier this spring at my church, I noticed several girls that would flip to the table of contents in their Bible before turning to the verse we we were reading next in our lesson. That grieved my heart. If they don’t even know where the books of the Bible are, they’re less likely to understand how the Bible is woven together. If they don’t understand that, they’re less likely to read the Bible on their own. A generation of kids growing up and not reading the Bible on their own will be a generation who are spiritually impoverished.

How can we change their trajectory into spiritual poverty into one of spiritual richness and depth? A spiritual depth that can weather all types of trials and storms? A depth that produces the wisdom needed to be a mature follower of Christ? A richness that in turn disciples others?

It starts in the home.

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on 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. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates.”

From these words in Deuteronomy 6, we see that instilling a love for God and his word starts with home life. It happens at bedtime, during lunch, on trips to the library and on family vacations (we all know we need lots of Jesus when traveling with kids). It happens in the moments when you least expect it, and sometimes it doesn’t happen when you do expect it. This process involves talking about God’s word, demonstrating God’s word, and writing down God’s word.

Demonstrate

“These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children.”

God’s commandments needed to be impressed first on the parents before they’re impressed on the kids. As parents, you fill your kid’s vision and scope of life more than any other adult, and those kiddos are always, always watching. In addition to large memories from my childhood, I remember the tiniest details about my parents. I remember my dad’s cologne and how it made our Honda Accord smell. I remember my mom’s rabbit cookie jar and her curling my bangs. If they don’t see you reaching for you Bible, praying over issues as they come up and talking about the things of God, they won’t make it a priority because they don’t see you making it a priority.

Growing up, I remember the Bible being a consistent theme in my life. We constantly played praise music in the car (my dad played on the worship team at church so we had an abundance of music). And what I learned at church was reinforced at home, and reinforced at school for the couple of years that I attend private school. My parents’ Bibles were well-marked and worn, and even when we would visit my Grammy or her mom, my great-grandmother, their Bibles were often out on a nearby table with a pen, journal, or Bible study book. They prayed with me, for me, and talked about scriptures. Their spiritual life was evident, even to a little kid. It was not hidden.

When my mom began homeschooling my brother and I, each day started off with a Bible study and I saw how God could be seamlessly woven into every part of my life. He wasn’t just for Sundays.

“Tie them as symbols…bind them on your foreheads.”

In a 2015 post by Ed Stetzer, he records these alarming stats.

“Christians claim to believe the Bible is God’s Word. We claim it’s God’s divinely inspired, inerrant message to us. Yet despite this, we aren’t reading it. A recent LifeWay Research study found only 45 percent of those who regularly attend church read the Bible more than once a week. Over 40 percent of the people attending read their Bible occasionally, maybe once or twice a month. Almost 1 in 5 churchgoers say they never read the Bible—essentially the same number who read it every day.”

If these are the stats for adults (and there are many more that confirm the same problem), what kind of example does that set for kids?

The question I would pose to parents is, do you have a hidden quiet time or a visible quiet time to your kids?

I know it’s hard to find uninterrupted time with little ones, and so “quiet time” may look different depending on the season you are in. But the point is your kids shouldn’t have to look far to see how you spend time with God. That in turn informs how they spend time with God.

Talk & Write

How do you incorporate talking about God and his word in your daily life?

  • Daily conversations over meals and while running errands
  • Reading and discussing books that present spiritual topics
  • Listening to the audio Bible in the car
  • Listening to praise and worship albums in the car
  • Memorizing scripture as a family
  • Daily prayer

It’s in these conversations and activities that kids make the connection between the Bible and everyday life. They begin to see they can pray for the sick people they know, share their toys or snacks, or tell the truth about who broke Grandma’s vase. You don’t always have to have a sit-down devotion in order to impart something worthwhile. More often than not, it is in those passing moments that a bigger truth is forever imprinted on a little heart.

Seeing Scriptures or lyrics to worships songs written out around the house is another way to constantly keep God’s truth at the forefront of your family. Isn’t it funny how certain household items, pictures and other knick-knacks get embedded in the fabric of our childhood? Growing up, I can remember one framed item in particular that hung in our entryway. It was an embroidered image of Joshua 24:15, and it served as a reminder, not only to us, but to all who entered that we served God above all. Images like these reinforce what they learn and make it easier to remember. And if they don’t quite understand what the verses mean, it’s a great way to open conversation to talk about the things of God. What will you do today to help your kids build a quiet time?

Conversation Starters:

  • What is your favorite book in the Bible?
  • What’s something about God or the Bible you find confusing?
  • What are you learning about in Sunday school?
  • If you could ask God anything right now, what would it be?

Every family is different, every season is different, and spiritual needs vary from kid to kid. But all the more reason to dive into God’s word and let it bear fruit in your family.

 

 

About the Author

SAMANTHA HANNI is the author of “Change the Conversation” and the “Bloom” devotional series. She is also published in the devotional book “Big Dreams from Small Spaces” by Group Publishing and blogs at mrshanni.com. Her work has also appeared on Devotional Diva, To Love Honor and Vacuum, and in the OCHEC Informer. From teaching dance classes to leading Sunday school and small groups, Samantha has taught and mentored girls since 2007. Her latest book, “Bloom Book 1: Me & God” is the first in a devotional series for girls ages 10 and up, and is available for purchase through Amazon. She and her husband Kurtis live in Oklahoma City.


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Liar! Liar! Pants on Fire!

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By Michele L. Brown

My 9-year-old stepdaughter had gotten into my purse and helped herself to gum without asking, and when I picked the wrapper up from the floor she tried to say her friend had given it to her. This particular lie was actually the third blatant lie I had heard from my kids’ lips just that day, being the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back! Frustration got the best of me, as I tried to wrap my mind around how easy it is for the children of today to spit out utter lies! So, with a loud not-so-nice yell, I asked,

“Where did you learn to lie so much?”

Looking back, I wasn’t prepared for her answer but, by the Grace of God that rhetorical question and the answer I received, ultimately changed my life. It absolutely redefined my perspective of the influence I have over those around me and the responsibility that it carries.

How detrimental is a piece of gum? I wouldn’t think that it’s that important, not enough to cause me to sin. Or would I, without even batting an eye?

A few hours earlier, the first lie of the day had surfaced during an argument between the boys that escalated from name calling to the older son telling the youngest one, the dreaded “I hate you!” Though I knew that it had to be addressed, I was all too familiar with my own fits of rage producing hurtful words that I didn’t really mean. After a brief discussion, it was agreed that the statement made in anger and was far from the truth. He apologized, and did his best to assure the little one that he loved him very much. Within a short period, the tables were turned and the 4-year-old stood before me soaking wet, next a mud puddle; emphatically stating his innocence, “I didn’t do it, Nik threw the water on me!” 

The whole day had been filled with lies, lies and more lies and by the time that the gum situation occurred; I just had enough! My immediate thought was in order to stop the lies; we must see where it started. Admittedly, I presumed that our family would be turning into a radio-free, non-television watching, no internet surfing, Rated R-less family when my question got answered. Why’d children become so accustomed to telling lies to get their way, get out of trouble, impress someone, or whatever the case may be, somehow the solution to every situation seemed to be to lie. Where did you learn this from? I wasn’t prepared.

  • “Daddy lies every time you ask him if he’s been drinking!”
  • “You told the lady at the restaurant I was only 6 to get my food cheaper.”
  • “You told Daddy your shoes cost $10.00, but you gave the lady $25.00.”
  • “Daddy told Aunt Jackie he is allergic to carrots, but we know he doesn’t like them.”
  • “You and Daddy told the Pastor that you had to work, but we were camping and couldn’t go to the fundraiser.” (ouch… that one was painful)
  • “Daddy told that officer that he had his seatbelt on, but he never wears it.”
  • “You told your boss you were sick, but we went to see Grandma.”
  • “You said you didn’t have money to go to the movies, but then you bought Daddy another pair of boots.”
  • “Aunty told you she was taking us to the mall, but we went to see a man.”
  • “Grandma told you we didn’t eat any junk food, but that’s all we ate.”
  • “You told Nik his shoes were new, but we got them at that garage sale.”
  • “You told GiGi you quit smoking, but you kept hiding in the back yard to smoke.”

Somewhere, we as a society have excluded white lies from “thou shall not lie.” Of course, we’re not only sinfully wrong; but as I submit to my readers, we are also being a horrible example to the next generation. I decided after hearing this long list of infractions to find solutions.

The verdict was in, it wasn’t TV, radio, movies or other children that had been bad influences on my children… it was me. I wasn’t the only one, but at that moment; all I knew was that my name was certainly high enough on the list of suspects that I had to face it… Change had to begin with me!

I googled ‘deception.’

Do you remember Rebekah in the Bible? She convinced her son Jacob to claim to be his brother to their father in order to receive the blessing meant for the first born son. Sadly, when the young man’s mother first presented her dishonest scheme to the younger son; he didn’t want to do it… but then she convinced him to go ahead and deliberately deceive his father for gain.

Wow.

Let’s not prepare the hanging tree for Mother Rebekah, just yet. Allow me the role of ‘Devil’s advocate’ for just a moment, in honor of well-meaning mothers. Her reasoning was rather simple; she was operating from her heart. Simply put, she wanted the best for her son, and like many of us she justified the means to an end; even if she had to manipulate God to get it.

Ponder that just for a moment. Can we ever manipulate what God has in store for us? Can we cheat to win something from God in any way at all?

Close your eyes… imagine God’s face as we pull strings, tell fibs, fabricate details and go to such great lengths to manipulate (him) situations. Oh don’t get me wrong, we never see it for what it is…. But when we put our hands on things to make things happen, we are trying to manipulate GOD. We think we can do a better job.

 “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.”

As an adult, Jacob himself was deceived several times by people close to him. Some say it was him reaping the harvest of deception seeds he had planted so many years prior.

First, Jacob worked for seven years to marry Laban’s beautiful daughter, Rachel; however on the wedding night, it was the less attractive (maybe even homely) sister Leah who he consummated with. Determined to have his beloved Rachel, he agreed to work yet another 7 years to marry her. The first child they bore, Joseph was Jacob’s favorite which caused much jealousy, envy and strife among the other brothers. Once again, Jacob was deceived when in an attempt to get rid of their brother, the older sons first tried to kill him, but then sold him into slavery; but led their father to believe he’d been killed by a wild animal.

BUT then there was GRACE!

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Romans 5:20 – Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound:

 The proof is in that very same story. We know after reading about Jacob’s life, he … he ended up being a very blessed man IN God’s time and God’s way. We also know that Joseph, son of Jacob was used in a mighty way even despite his own brothers’ hatred of him. Joseph even comforted his brothers who feared retaliation for all they had done to him.

Genesis 50:20 – But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.

I am reminded through this lesson that my actions now are forming my kids into who they will be, and what they will one day teach their children. As I am now faced with the challenge of eradicating all forms of dishonesty, even in their mildest form from our home; I am determined to live by example so that my kids aren’t confused by my hypocrisy. I now realize the seriousness of this not-so-minor habit. Lord knows, our children face enough from the world as it is, I sure don’t want my actions to make anything harder on them, or put any habits in them that later God himself will have to burn away.

We, as a family, are more open and honest, even admitting when we’re tempted by dishonesty and discuss as a family the benefits of always being truthful. This, like all growth is a bit painful, even awkward at times; but it is rewarding to know that even as parents, we need correction and as a result, the children are learning a life lesson that will be beneficial to them forever.

Proverbs 22:6 – Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

michelebrownAbout Michele L. Brown

Michele is a giddy Christian; nothing excites her more than the opportunity to talk about Jesus’ love. She’s a proud Wife and (step) Mother and her hobbies are writing about Christian life, fishing, cooking and sewing. Michele plans to release her first novel in December of 2016.