Whether you’re homeschooling your children, raising them overseas, or even just teaching them to love God in your own home, it can be a bit terrifying knowing they will soon have to step out into that scary world out there and fight who-knows-what evil. We shelter them from it as long as we can, work hard to give them good values, limit their time on social media, make them memorize verses, take them with us on our ministry trips, teach them “Jesus loves me” (sometimes even in English!).
Secretly, we’re hoping this little human God placed in our care will one day grow up to save the world. Or at least make it a better place.
But this isn’t a movie. And we don’t yet know the evils they will face out there or what choices they will make.
How can we prepare our children to fulfill the purposes their Father God formed them for?
Arm them well.
When our kids were still preschoolers, the Lord told me, “These children are Mine, placed in your care for a time. You think you have 18 years to train them up in My ways, but you don’t. Right now they lean on you like you lean on Me. But by the time they reach age 10 or 11, they will lean on something or someone else. That Someone must be Me.”
1. SWORD TRAINING.
Ephesians 6:17, Deuteronomy 6:4-9.
That was a definite fear-of-the-Lord moment for me. I scurried as fast as I could to put into effect some kind of daily Bible reading.
Because they were still toddlers, we used hand motions or songs to memorize Scripture. But once they started first grade, we began reading through the Bible every morning, using the New International Reader’s Version (third grade reading level). The format God led us to use took about 10-15 minutes to do together, but we read and talked while they ate breakfast, so it didn’t add any more time to their busy morning.
At first, the kids were highly distracted and it was difficult to stay on track, until we talked about it together, and then began starting that precious Bible time each morning with a prayer like, “Lord, please block out all distractions and guard this time together in Your Word. Take Your truth and plant it deep in our hearts so we will believe it, stand on it, and walk out in it all the days of our lives.”
Beginning each day with a feast on the Word not only edified, but empower us. Often, God brought into the children’s paths situations to practice what He had just taught them that morning. To this day, our now-grown children tell us that daily Bible reading together was the most powerful way God drew them to Himself.
By the time they graduated from high school, we had read the whole Bible nearly twice through together. This was the method God led us to:
- Ask God to block out all distractions and speak to us from His Word.
- Read aloud a portion of Scripture (usually a few verses, sometimes a chapter).
- Talk about it together as God led, asking questions, etc.
- Memorize any verses God highlighted for us.
- Pray the passage back to Him together.
At around age 10-12, both our kids wanted their own personal quiet times with God. Depending on their schedule, they did this before breakfast, as soon as they finished school, or before they went to bed. So, I gave them journals and encouraged them to write, and even draw, what God was showing them each day from His Word.
They wanted to use a devotional book in their quiet times, but because they had grown up overseas in a home filled with Jesus, not many devotional Bible studies for their age were deep enough or covered issues TCKs face (like finding where home is), so the Lord led me to write Dare to Become a Man of God and Delight to Become a Woman of God, for ages 10 or 11 and above, from a mother’s heart, filled with deep truths from Scripture the Lord was telling me they needed to know for those tender pre-teen years and beyond.
I thought to study each of the books separately with the kids, as one is for boys and one for girls, but they wanted to study them both together. As my son said, “I need to know what my wife needs to know.” So they studied them in their quiet times, one chapter a week, and we got together on Saturday mornings to talk about what God was teaching us.
Soon after, several of their friends also began studying together with their parents the lessons on walking in the Word, listening to God’s voice, overcoming conflict, finding freedom from lies and strongholds, and loving well. Then youth Bible study groups began forming throughout the city, and even in other parts of the country. God taught those young people and their parents, to wield their “swords.” And now that this “army” has graduated and returned to their passport countries for college and beyond, their passion for Him has grown all the more, and they’ve stepped out on their own mission adventures throughout the world.
I realize that not ever child is as hungry for the Lord as ours were, and every situation is different. I can share with you in my next blog some things God led us to do to help foster that hunger, but a good God-breathed Bible study plan to do with your children daily, an easy-to-read version of the Bible, some instruction on journaling so they can write what God’s teaching them in their quiet times, and a deep devotional Bible study workbook were all keys the Lord used to keep our children wanting more of His Word.
Now that they and their friends are older and facing many of the pressures singles face today, the Lord led me to write these Bible study workbooks for ages 14 and above: Dare to be a Man of God and Delight to be a Woman of God, with accompanying prayer journals.
What helps have you found to arm your children with the Word while they’re young?