Recently, I was struck by how easily my kids are influenced. We were sitting at the breakfast table, and one of my sons started talking about “inner peace.” Initially, as embarrassing as this is to admit, I kind of smugly patted myself on the back for doing a good job of teaching him that peace comes from Jesus. But as I delved a little deeper and started asking him some questions, he started telling me all about the “inner peace” he learned about while watching Kung Fu Panda. Then he proceeded to get into a weird meditative pose! It was a lighthearted moment and we all laughed. But, as funny as this little scenario was, it also disturbed me a bit. It made me realize how “sponge-like” my kids are...daily, they are processing and absorbing the influences of our culture. It made me sit back and ask myself,
How am I, as a parent, influencing my kids with the truth of the Gospel?
God has given instructions to parents to be diligent about teaching His Word to our children. Oftentimes, we leave this job up to our wonderful and committed Sunday School teachers, Awana, and Youth Group leaders. But am I equipping my own children to know and love Jesus, and helping them to understand what He has to do with their everyday life? I know how busy life can get, and oftentimes, in our house, this can get pushed to the back burner.
Over the past few years, I have come across some great resources for teaching my kids about Jesus, God's Word, and the Gospel. I know that there are so many other great tools out there, but these are just a few things we have used personally and that I feel passionate about!
1. Bible Storybooks
The Jesus Storybook Bible,
by Sally Lloyd-Jones
Several years ago, I strolled into a bookstore and came across The Jesus Storybook Bible. I knew nothing about it, but I bought the book based on the subtitle alone: “Every Story Whispers His Name.” I cannot recommend this book more highly! I have learned so much myself, and have been brought to tears on numerous occasions reading this to my kids. The Gospel is the main thing here: it presents each story from Scripture as part of God's great redemption plan and teaches us how each story points directly to Jesus, as opposed to presenting the Bible as a book of rules and moralistic heroes. The illustrations are beautiful and unique, and we recently started listening to the audio version, which is absolutely phenomenal.
Long Story Short,
by Marty Machowski
This is a wonderful devotional for the family that, once again, keeps Jesus at the center. The focus is on the Old Testament, but always with an eye on the Gospel. The author does a great job of teaching children that the whole Old Testament points to Christ and His plan of salvation through grace. This devotional has influenced our family tremendously. My husband now has a game he plays with our kids, to see who can make the “Jesus connection” first. Of course, this sometimes ends in a fight as our children are highly competitive...which is always awesome when you are doing family devotions. But the point is, it has given us all a deeper understanding of the fact that the whole Bible is about Jesus, and it has been so cool to see our kids learning that from such a young age. Quite honestly, I didn't understand that until I was an adult. I loved this quote from the book description on Amazon: “Clever stories and good moral lessons may entertain and even help children, but the gospel will transform children.” And adults too!
Seeds Family Worship
Basically, these albums are word for word Scripture set to really cool music. I have been known to rock out to these albums in my car...by myself. Did I mention that even when there are no kids in my car, I still listen to them? We absolutely love these albums and have learned so many Bible verses together as a family singing these songs. Putting words to music is such a great and fun way to memorize Bible verses, and there is nothing cheesy or hokey about this music. You can learn more about Seeds Family Worship at www.seedsmusicstore.com.
4. Conversation and Real-Life Situations
Teaching our kids about God and His Word doesn't have to be a formal thing. Regular, every-day conversations, and the way I live my life in front of them, has a profound effect on my kids. It shows them what I am really all about. Kids are hypocrisy detectives...when the rubber meets the road, are the things I am teaching them, and the way I am actually living, jiving together? Here are some thoughts:
- What am I communicating to my kids about God when I'm disappointed? Am I teaching them that God is disappointed in them because they don't measure up? Or am I teaching them that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus? Instead of teaching them to strive for approval, am I teaching them to rest in that truth? (Matthew 11:28-30)
- What am I communicating to my kids about God when things are going well? Am I teaching them that I, or they, don't need God? Who is being glorified? God, or myself? (1 Chronicles 16:8-9)
- What am I communicating when things go wrong? Am I living in such a way that shows them that we need to take matters into our own hands, or trust Him because we know He is in control? Am I teaching them to blame God when things go wrong, or am I teaching them that our world is broken as a result of sin, that God is in the process of reconciling all things to Himself, and that one day everything will be as it should be? (Colossians 1:20)
- What am I communicating to my kids about God when we have succeeded, or when we have failed? Am I teaching them that God accepts or rejects them based upon their performance? Or that Jesus is a friend of sinners, and that He died for us when we were dead in our trespasses and sins? (Romans 5:8)
- Paul Tripp exhorts parents to be an “instrument of seeing” in the lives of our children. Am I giving my kids a BIG view of who God is? Is God even in the picture? Or is He only meant for formal times of devotions, or bedtime, or Sunday? What I mean is, am I linking the ups and down of life, the good, the bad, the successes, the failures, and all of creation, to the Gospel?
“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge.” Psalm 19:1-4
The heavens are declaring the glory of God, but am I? Am I teaching them that God hates sin, but loves sinners with a “Never Stopping, Never Giving Up, Unbreaking, Always and Forever Love.” (From The Jesus Storybook Bible). That the law teaches us how life works best, but also is our tutor to lead us to Christ? I think, for me, the bottom line is that I need to be convinced of these things, and living them out in my own life, before I can ever give them to my kids. Honestly, God is convicting me as I write these words. So often I fail to represent God as He should be represented. It's all about LOVE:
Grasping the reality of God's love will provide every answer to every question we have about him and ourselves. It will tell us who we are, why we're here, and how we're supposed to do what we're supposed to be doing. Delighting in God's love will transform everything about us, including who we are, or our identity.
Elyse Fitzpatrick, Because He Loves Me
“The love of Christ compels us.” And it is that same love that will compel our children to walk with Him.
The Big Picture Story Bible, by David R. Helm
The Gospel Story Bible, by Marty Machowski
Leading Little Ones to God, by Marian M. Schoolland
Jesus Calling for Kids, by Sarah Young
Songs for Saplings: www.songsforsaplings.com