Learning the Bible


I am continually amazed at how well the above items do in teaching the Bible to our children. Our two youngest children use these three items every night as they fall asleep. And they have come to know the stories of the Bible very well, even at a young age.

The first item is a DVD filled with 450 dramatized stories of the Bible. Each story is about 6-9 minutes long. All in, there are more than 56 hours of Bible stories. The cost is $49 delivered to your home. You can purchase it here.

The second item is a Sansa Clip mp3 player. We have placed all of the Bible stories on the mp3 DVD onto the Sansa Clip. Each night, we begin playing one of the stories and put this on sleep mode, so it turns off in 30 minutes. The mp3 player that we like costs about $40. You can purchase it here.

The third item is a pair of speakers. This allows the mp3 player to be heard in their bedrooms without ear buds. I remember picking up some at Walmart for less than $10. If you want to purchase it online, you can here. Or, you could use some old computer speakers that you have.

So, for less than $100, you can give your children a robust knowledge of the Bible. Be warned, they may soon become more familiar with the stories of the Bible than you are. If your children are older (or you have no children at home), you can always use these yourselves to learn the Bible.

She Got the Part!

Several of my children are in the midst of performing the play, “Beauty and the Beast,” with Christian Youth Theater, a theater program for children ages 8-18. They have twelve performances over the next two weeks.

My youngest daughter’s dream is to be Belle, the beauty, who learns to love the beast. However, since this is her first play that she has ever done, and since she is only eight years old, she knew that she would never get the part. She’s hoping for another opportunity in the next decade.

Here’s the cool part. After casting the show and working through many weeks of rehearsal, the directors decided that they would like to open the show in real life with a father and a young daughter. Since my daughter is one of the smallest girls in the show, she was selected to be the little girl.

The little girl will come with a book in her hand (Beauty and the Beast), which she requests the father to read to her before bedtime. Then, the show fades into fantasy land as the play is performed.

The final scene of the show comes back to the father and the daughter. Here’s their dialogue:

Isabelle: Oh Papa, I love that story

Dad: Papa is it now?

Isabelle: Is that OK? (With a shy tilted smile) If I call you Papa?

Dad: Sure sweetie that’s just fine. … Off to bed we go Isabelle.

(Taking Isabelle by the hand and heading to a stage left exit)

Isabelle: Papa, … it’s just “Belle” now.

Dad: (With a knowing chuckle) So it is. … Come on then BELLE, it’s off to bed with you my BEAUTY.

So, my daughter did get the part of Belle after all!


First Time and Every Time

The Biblical standard for a child’s obedience to his parents is simple: they should always obey. Colossians 3:20 says, “Children, be obedient to your parents in all things.” That means first time and every time. Children are not to obey in some things. They are not to obey in most things. They are to obey in all things (unless, of course, a parent’s command violates Scripture).

I remember a pastor making an interesting observation of parents dealing with their children. He said that when teaching discipline to their children, parents often teach arithmetic. By this, he meant that often, parents employ a method of counting to inform their children of upcoming discipline. A father tells his child to come. When the child is disobedient, the father begins counting, “1 …. 2 … 3 … 4 … 4½ … 4¾” and surprisingly, the child comes just before the father reaches five. This is because the child knows that number five is where discipline begins. In so doing, parents often teach their children not to obey on the first numbers, but only on the latter numbers.

But the Biblical standard is clear: first time and every time.

Such a standard ought to cause us parents to take great care in the things that we tell our children to do. We must be reasonable in our instructions to them, expecting them to obey everything we say. We must smother them in love, so that they know that we aren’t merely making our children our slaves.


Wet Cement

Children are like wet cement. They are very moldable and able to conform to their surroundings. But, as they grow older, they begin to harden in their ways. There become hardened in their ways. At times, they reach a point, where nothing you do can change their behavior.

The obvious point of the illustration is this: be diligent with your children in their younger years to train them in the ways that they should go. This is the wisdom of Proverbs 19:18, “Discipline your son while there is hope.” If you lack the diligence when they are young, all hope may be lost as they harden in their ways.


Time With Your Children

Perhaps the best parenting advice that I can give you is to spend time with your children. Spend much time. Spend quality time. Talk with them. Teach them. Learn from them.  Show interest in them. Play games with them. In so doing, convince them that you love them. 

Many times, this can take place in the flow of life, like in the car.  Over the years, our children have enjoyed playing, “The Alphabet Game.” Oh for a sign like the one above!

Showing Love

For many years our children have asked me if they could have a dog. I told them no. I have given then reasons why: our life is busy enough as it is, without a dog; a dog will require more cleaning around the house; a dog will restrict us in our freedom to leave home for long periods of time (or even days for a short trip); finally, a dog is a lot of responsibility. Even though I have said, “No,” the requests have continued to be made to me. My stance has become quite public as my children have shared it with their friends or with people at church.

My oldest two children have seemed fine with my constant refusal to get a dog. But, my 12 year old daughter was never content with my answer. She looks at the ads in the newspaper every day, looking for a nice dog to purchase. She also looks up pets for sale on craigslist on a daily basis. Well, her constant requests and her clear passion to have a dog finally wore me down. I gave in. We purchased a Maltese Bichon puppy a few days ago.

It’s my way of showing love to my daughter.

Raising Children

Yesterday, I wrote about a friend from long ago who emailed me about raising children.  I promised to include my response to her.  Well, here it is.  Perhaps it will help you in your parenting.


Here are some thoughts about our parenting that might be helpful to you.

First, I’m assuming that you (and your husband) are passionately following Christ, loving and trusting in the gospel every day, and deeply involved in a good Bible teaching church. That’s the whole key to all of parenting. You can’t train your children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord if it’s not first true in your life. Where this is weak in your life, your parenting will be weak as well. So, focus much on this today, even before children come alone.

Second, enjoy your children. Genuinely enjoy them. Play with them. Laugh with them. Love them. Encourage them. Create a happy home, where your children love to be. Have more joy in your house than your neighbors have in their house. We have enjoyed our children when they were small. We enjoy them even more as they get older (as they grow, there is more about them to love). Spend MUCH time with them, especially as they get older.

Third, have a Biblical vision for your own happiness. 3 John 4 says, “I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth.” Be convinced that your greatest happiness will be derived when your children are fellow believers, loving and following Christ. Be convinced that it’s not your children’s accomplishments or income levels or prestige or power or education that’s ultimately going to give you (and them) the most joy. Rather, it’s loving Christ that will lead to all of these things. So, pray to this end.

Fourth, love the Bible and fill your children’s minds with the Bible, every chance you get. Engage your children in Scripture memory songs. Get some CD’s to play for your children as they go to bed each night that teach them the Bible. Read children’s Bibles with them, such as “The Big Picture Bible” by David Help or “The Jesus Story Book Bible” by Sally Lloyd-Jones. Schedule a “Quiet time” in their lives from the very start (playpen time with a Bible DVD playing in the background). As they get older, have them read good Christian books. Read good books out loud to your family whenever possible (breakfast, dinner, bed-time). Read to them as you travel in the car. Such life-long training will stir your hearts as well.

Fifth, make sure that God is in your home. Just going to church isn’t enough. Sending your kids to youth group isn’t enough. God needs to be a reality in your home. I’m not talking about the mere external forms of religion. I’m talking about the living reality of Christ in your home. So, have a time of family worship in your home as often as permissible by your schedule (see here) — start today, even before children come around. “Thoughts on Family Worship” by J. W. Alexander is the best book about this. It’s an older book, but it’s a treasure. It has probably affected my life more than any other non-Biblical book. Pray with your children. Sing songs of worship with your children. Talk with your children about God, Christ, the gospel, and all things Biblical.

Sixth, shepherd the hearts of your children. Tedd Tripp’s book, “Shepherd a Child’s Heart” nails it. Too often people are concerned with the behavior of their children. But, the behavior comes from the heart. You ought to be concerned with their hearts and souls far more than you are with their behavior. As you discipline them, tell them of the source of their problem (the sinfulness of their hearts) and the solution to that problem (repentance and faith in Christ). Parenting isn’t about getting your children to obey (even dogs can obey). Parenting is about developing character in your children, so that they will behave respectfully and appropriately.

Seventh, treasure the gospel and let it affect how your deal with your children. Too often parents treat their children with the law. They thunder from Sinai with rules upon rules (usually rules to make the parents look better). When they don’t live up to expectations, they receive wrath. I have seen this lead to rebellion in many cases. It’s no wonder, because this is what they were taught in the home. This isn’t what children need. When they fail, they need mom and dad to respond with them like God responds to us, … with grace. So, realize that your children are fellow sinners and in need of grace. This doesn’t eliminate discipline (Heb. 12), but it puts a flavor on your relationship with your children. Really helpful books here are William Farley’s book, “Gospel Powered Parenting” and Elyse Fitzpatrick’s book, “Give them Grace.”

Eighth, as your children get older, lavish them with love, so that they know beyond a shadow of a doubt that you are for them, not against them. Be a lifelong encouragement to them, so that when they have trouble, they will go to you, because they know that you care for them more than anyone else in the world. Sam Crabtree’s book, “Practicing Affirmation” is very good for talking about this. Too often parents are antagonistic toward their children. This leads to pain and rebellion (for them and for you).

Finally, be humble with your children. Confess your sins to them. Show them how you need Christ, yourself. The only way to combat hypocrisy in your home is to confess your sins. This will be the case especially when they get older. They can see hypocrisy when you are blind to it yourself.

Whew. That’s probably more than you were looking for. But, I hope that it helps.

Lessons from a Little Girl

My sister and her husband are foster parents to a five-year-old little girl. They have done so now for several years and are now this little girl’s legal guardian.

One day, this little girl was hungry and approached my sister as she was preparing dinner.  She asked my sister for something to eat. My sister told her, “No, you can’t have anything now, because it’s almost dinner time.”  Being hungry, this little girl blurted out, “You don’t care for me!” and began to pout and cry. Immediately, my sister began to think in her mind of all the ways that this simply wasn’t true. “What do you mean?  We have taken you into our home.  We have clothed you and fed you and provided medical care for you.  We have included you in our family, taken you on vacation and extended our love toward you in great measure. … And all this we have done without payment of any kind. If that’s not love, then what is?”

Then, it his my sister hard.  She said to me, “At that moment I realized that I so often respond this way to God. He has done so much for me, and yet, I often complain of His lack of care for me.”

May we all learn this lesson from this little girl and be aware of all the great blessings of God in our lives.

How Not to Disciple Your Children

One of my “friends” on Facebook posted the following a few days ago:  “My young son asked me what happens after we die. I told him we get buried under a bunch of dirt and worms eat our bodies. I guess I should have told him the truth – that most of us go to Hell and burn eternally – but I didn’t want to upset him.”  It saddened me to see the levity of Hell.  Several people “liked” this post. One commented, “lol.”  Another said, “That’s funny … There’s an app for that!”

I could not remain silent.  I commented, “Tell him about Jesus. He died so that we might live eternally in His presence. We simply need to trust him… Read about it in John 3:1-21.”

Let’s be straightforward and honest with our children regarding the terrors of hell and the wonderful mercy of Jesus.