When it comes to memorizing bible verses, we don’t often see the point. It is something we did in Sunday School when we were kids, but that’s the extent of it. And when it comes to making our kids do it, it seems like more work than its worth, but I would contend that teaching your children bible memory verses actually helps your job as a parent.
In elementary math, we see the importance for kids to memorize the basic addition facts as well as the multiplication tables. While they don’t understand why they must put these numbers to memory, we know that as they advance in higher math being able to pull these facts out of their brains quickly will be a great benefit to them. We can apply the same logic to memorizing scripture. In Joshua 1:8, God tells Joshua to meditate on the Law day and night so that he will be careful to do all that is written in it and have success. Just like memorizing basic math facts helps us in Algebra, internalizing the Word of God helps us to keep His commands.
Scripture memory sets children up for victory against temptations
As parents, we strive to set our children up for success in life. We want them to go to a good school, so we look at the options and choose the one that will best prepare them for the next step. We make sure they have tutoring and/or extra help in the areas they are struggling. We take them to extra-curricular art classes, dance, sports, and a multitude of other things to prepare them for life in the best way we know how. We pay for extra ACT or SAT Prep courses to ensure they get the best possible score so they can get into the college of their choice. We want the best for our children and are willing to sacrifice ourselves if necessary to make sure they have it.
Just as we set them up for success in physical areas of life, we need to set them up for success spiritually. Temptations are a very real part of life. At this point in their lives, we are right by their side acting as their conscience helping them decide between right and wrong. But a day will come when that is not the case. They won’t always have us to help them make the right decision, but when we give them the word of God as their standard for life we set them up for victory.
Your word have I treasured in my heart that I might not sin against you. Psalm 119:11
To give our children the tools to fight against temptation, we must be teaching them the gospel. Not only on Sunday morning, but we must be living it out in front of them; teaching them diligently and talking of it when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up (Deuteronomy 6:7) We all need to be surrounded by these truths of God’s word. When we add bible memory to this and store these truths in our hearts, the Helper will bring them to our minds when temptations arise.
“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, He will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” John 14:26
Scripture memory gives a reason for the “why”
Children ask “why” a lot. Sometimes it can be hard to continue to come up with reasons for the behavior we require. But when all of our rules are tied to the bible, we have a black and white reason for the expectations we have for them. I find it easier to answer my children’s questions when I can point them straight back to the source.
“Why do I have to have a good attitude when I do things?”
Do all things without grumbling or disputing. Philippians 2:14
“Why does it matter if I do my work lazily or sloppily?”
Whatever you do, do your work heartily as for the lord and not for men. Colossians 3:23
“Why is it wrong for me to get angry?”
Let everyone be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to anger, for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. James 1:19-20
“Why do I have to forgive my sister?”
Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. Ephesians 4:32
“Why is it wrong if I lie?”
…the Lord hates…a lying a tongue…” Proverbs 6:16-17
You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. Exodus 20:16 (One of the Ten Commandments)
Just as these verses answer the immediate why, they also answer the long-term why. As children grow into teen-dom and young adulthood and begin considering life outside the nest, they can give a reason for the standards their parents instilled in them. These truths are like stakes for direction and support. Just as we put stakes in the ground so that our tomato plants have something to grow up on, we give our children the word of God to give them the direction to grow. Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly…
Scripture memory tethers them to God rather than to us
In his book, Reset: How to Keep Your Kids from Backsliding, Todd Friel makes a statement that makes complete sense, yet it completely challenged me. “Tether your child to you, and the odds are they will fly the coop. Tether your child to Christ, and he/she will submit to Him long after you and I are dead.” In other words, we must be teaching them God’s rules. Show them that they are obeying God when they obey us. And, as the psalmist says, the best way to obey is to hide His rules in our hearts. When the time comes to let them go into the world on their own (and believe me, it will come faster than you expect) we can breathe easier knowing that the word of God is with them.
When Solomon, the wisest man in the world, was giving advice to his son he said to observe and not to forsake the teachings of his mother and father. He counseled that when these words are stored in his heart they will guide his steps and guard his way. How great to know that when we are no longer there to keep them on the narrow path, that our God is with them.
Bind [my words] continually on your heart; Tie them around your neck. When you walk about, they will guide you; When you sleep, they will watch over you; And when you awake, they will talk to you.
Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.
So where do we go from here? There are several scripture memory guides on the market — invest in one for you and your family. Memorize with your kids, show them it is important for you too. A family devotional book that we have personally used and enjoyed, Sword Fighting, has 52 bible memory verses along with applicable devotions. Another great resource that my family is a part of where scripture memory is a key aspect is AWANA. I highly recommend joining a club at a local church.
I have made a set of 16 illustrated scripture memory cards containing some key verses for children. I want to give you a set for free when you join my mailing list. Just follow this link to get them.
***Updated March 2019 from original publishing date of January 2015.
“Enjoy them now, they grow up so fast.” Any of us with young children have heard this statement countless times from well meaning relatives and strangers. At the moment, while we are pulling our hair out chasing our children around, the advice is hard to swallow. But, from someone in her 20th year of parenting, believe me it is so true. I want to encourage you that every season with your children is precious.
I look back on the times I had with young children with joy and happiness. I think, “Life was so uncomplicated then.” I knew their needs and I fulfilled them. They were simple things like sleep, food, and love. I would hold them, read to them and cook for them. That was my life ten-fifteen years ago.
These are some of my favorite photos from when my kids were young. Were they ever really this little??
Fall/Winter 2004. My four oldest, ages 5 to 3 months.
Some days I miss those years. Some days I watch young moms as they cope with the stress of taking care of young children — carrying the baby in the midst of multiple other tasks, chasing the toddler, juggling three children under five — and I remember when that used to be me and I feel a tug on my heart. As hard as those years were; they were also sweet. Those children needed me for everything and they loved me unconditionally. They could be wild and unruly. This is true. But they were also just amazing to watch. The innocence that surrounds little children as they play is beautiful.
In retrospect, I do miss those years. However, in reality, I do not. When I really think back I remember that those were hard years. Four children under the age of five can be very demanding. The physical abuse one endures – day in and day out – is exhausting. In addition, I had no freedom. Taking them anywhere was a chore: buckling the car seats, driving to the destination, unbuckling and getting everyone out, just to put everyone back in two minutes later. A five minute stop takes 30. And if I ever wanted a shower, I had to plan ahead and make sure everyone was in there designated spot to ensure chaos didn’t rain down during the 10 minutes I was out of sight.
Fast forward ten years. I have two teenage boys, two daughters on the brink of teen-dom, and two more who were still “little”. I have days when my children are teaching me; when I have to ask them how to do things. My oldest has surpassed me in understanding of mathematics and science. My daughter can ask to make cookies and I can allow her to do the entire process on her own — start to finish. If I need to go to the grocery store, it is no longer a major feat. I am no longer Mother Duck with my six ducklings following behind. I can ask my “olders” to please watch the “youngers” and feel confident that everything will be ok. The shopping gets done twice as fast when I’m not having to chase and reprimand children all the time.
Spring 2014. All 6 kids gathered around their favorite tree in the woods behind the house.
Now my oldest is in college and my second is graduating high school. My youngest is 10. Life is different now. We have different needs and different wants. Things are not so simple like they once were. I’m not always able to provide for the varying needs of my children as they have become more complicated (and expensive). They are learning more about the world and about themselves, and sometimes this means they argue with each other — especially as my two “born leaders” learn the right and wrong way to lead! I do not always have a clear answer on who was “right” and who was “wrong.” I have to get on my knees and seek God daily for the wisdom to respond to them correctly.
I still remember the first moment I realized the joy of growing children. All of us, the four oldest and me, were in the kitchen. I was mixing a meatloaf, Abigail was peeling potatoes, Hadassah was chopping them, and the boys were making biscuits. As I looked around my kitchen at each child as we worked together on the project, I felt my joy overflowing. Those kids who used to claw at me to fulfill their needs at all hours of the day were now helping me. We were having fun together, singing songs as we worked. It was a good time. Just so you know, an every day occurrence. The kids had asked me to make meatloaf and mashed potatoes and I didn’t have time to put it all together myself. I told them they would only get it if they worked with me and helped get it together. Looking back on it, I have realized the amazing reality that they were capable of helping me. It was a moment I treasure in my heart.
I can look back on my time with young children and enjoy the sweet memories. But we are making new memories now. And these are just as sweet.
Obedience is an important, yet difficult concept that all children have to learn. While it may seem to come easier to some children than to others, at some point or another all children will have issues with disobedience. Proverbs 22:6 says to “train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” Our goal in parenting, in raising children, is ultimately to raise godly people who desire to love and serve the Lord with all their heart. So how do we do that?
First, we need to know why we require obedience at all. We have rules because we were created in the image of God and He is a God of order and not chaos. God has a set of rules that we, His creation, must follow.
“Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one!You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. Deuteronomy 6:4-7
Christ showed us obedience as He submitted Himself to the cross (Philippians 2:8). God has set a natural order to creation by placing the parents as head over the children. As image-bearers, we give our children rules that they must obey as part of the family unit. It is through learning to obey their parents, that children, in turn, learn to obey God.
How do we decide what the rules, or standards, should be? There is a bombardment of different views on the subject. Just a quick google search on discipline methods will produce hundreds of differing ideas on how best to raise your children. How do you decide what is optimum? Well, I’m here to tell you the decision is actually very easy.
The world is always wavering back and forth between the newest and greatest opinion on how to do just about anything. For example, anyone in their 30’s has seen a dozen different diets rise and fall in cultural craze over their lifetime. A dozen different ways that experts swore were the best way to lose weight. One year it was fat grams, just a couple years later it was carbs. It’s the same way with child raising theories, wavering back and forth in the sea of humanistic philosophies.
But, unlike the sinking sand of worldly thinking, we have a solid rock to build our lives upon (Matthew 7:24-27). The standard of the Word of God is unchanging and reliable (Psalm 119:89). Most importantly, it is the ultimate test of truth (John 17:17 and Psalm 119:160). Read through Psalm 119 and see how often the psalmist attributes his ability to make wise choices to the scriptures. When we raise our children based on the standards of the bible, it will have an effect.
A major way I used the scriptures as my children were in their formative years was through bible memory. There were certain verses in scripture that spoke to the specific behavior issues they were having. I used a family devotional called Sword Fighting, and made scripture cards to go with it. This book was based on Ephesians 6:13-17 which says, “Therefore, take up the full armor of God so that you will be able to resist in the evil day … and the sword of the spirit which is the word of God.” Jesus exemplifies this concept in Mathew 4 by fighting temptation with the Word of God. The idea is to memorize scripture that we can then use when we are tempted to sin. We memorized these key verses and, through the cards I had hung on the wall, I would remind them of these precepts when they would inevitably forget and thus disobey.
Through the prophet Isaiah, God says, “My word… will not return to me empty, without accomplishing what I desire, and without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:11) It is our responsibility to teach our children scripture as it relates to who God is, who we are, and how we should respond. It is God’s responsibility to change their hearts.
I am not going to go too deep into all the details of raising our children on the standard of the word of God, wiser people than me have already done that. I will, however, recommend a few of the books that made a big impact in my household. Shepherding a Child’s Heart, by Tedd Tripp, The Heart of Anger by Lou Prilio, and, more recently, Reset for Parents: How to Keep Your Kids from Backsliding, by Todd Friel. The key point I want to make is that by raising our children by the standard of the Word of God, and living by that standard, we can bring up young people who know right from wrong.
I have created a set of 16 scripture memory cards with some of my go-to verses that you can use with your children to “sword fight”. They are illustrated to make them easily understandable by all children regardless of reading level. I would love for you to have a set! Just click this link and I will send it straight to your inbox.
I have been asking myself how I am spending my time. Am I being a good steward of the time God has given me? Psalm 37:5 says, “Commit your way to the Lord” and Psalm 5:3 encourages,”In the morning, O LORD, You will hear my voice; In the morning I will order my prayer to You and eagerly watch.” Therefore, before I begin my day I need to spend time with the Lord, as well as meditate on His word throughout the day. This is an important routine to fill up my tank for the day allowing me to go into my tasks with the right attitude and providing the words to use in spreading the gospel. In my last post I discussed how I am spending the time and abilities God has given me and whether I am using them to the best of my ability. I wanted to devote more time to the topic of daily Bible study as that is essential to all other things.
Daily Devotional Habit
First and foremost comes my time with God. Over the years, I have developed a habit of pulling out my Bible first thing in the morning. I get up with my husband and help him out the door at 6am. Then I sit with my bible, my reading plan, and a cup of coffee. (Also earbuds because I focus sooooo much better when I listen and read it!) For a long time I have felt that I was doing good in this area and I checked it off my list, so to speak, of disciplines that I have got a handle on. But, Paul exhorts us to excel still more (1 Thessalonians 4:1). My typical Bible devotion is usually to read either the M’Cheyne One Year Plan or a chronological plan (this year I am doing Solid Life Whole Bible Reading Plan). These plans have me reading the Bible in a year and have me reading in both the Old Testament and the New Testament at the same time. The act of reading from 2-4 different areas in the Bible helps me make observations and connections I haven’t made before.
However, I am not consistent at Bible journaling, nor do I regularly do a separate Bible study. I underline and write little notes in my Bible, but sometimes I have more to say than what I can write in the margins. And while I love journaling, I’m a wordy person, so writing in a blank page journal is like a 30 minute exercise for me. This means that I usually get lazy and don’t pull it out because “I don’t have time for that.”
However, I have decided that, in order to continue to grow in my relationship with God (2 Peter 3:18), I have to do more than what I already do. So I purchased this simple journal that uses the Scripture, Observation, Application, Prayer (SOAP) method. I decided to do this instead of using a blank journal like I have in the past to make the idea of daily journaling feel less intimidating. The fill in the blank pages are one page per day which make me feel like I can briefly write my thoughts without writing a book. 10 minutes of journaling is still journaling! I’m still getting my thoughts on paper without taking up all my time. Also, I have committed to write in the journal daily, which forces me to think and meditate upon what I have read (Joshua 1:8).
In addition to reading and meditating on the Word of God, prayer is an important part of daily spiritual disciplines. Because I lack focus, I can struggle with this aspect at times. Not because I don’t know what to say, but because, despite my best efforts, my thoughts stray to other things. The best way I have found to combat this is to have my Bible open and pray scripture and/or write my prayers in a journal. Again, this is not something I do everyday, but I am striving for excellence in this area. Another favorite way to pray is during my morning walks. After I read my Bible and before my kids get up, I leave the house and walk about 2 miles. The peaceful serenity of the morning makes for a wonderful time of prayer while I get some exercise, Somehow being outside and moving my body helps me concentrate on prayer. I am also looking for other profitable ways to pray during my day. My pastor’s wife tells how she would often pray while doing monotonous daily tasks such as folding laundry or ironing. This is also a good method.
So what’s so important about developing this skill? Why not just do a five minute devotional and be done? 1 Timothy 4:7 says to “discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness.” In his book on spiritual disciplines, Donald Whitney compares this to spiritual exercises. “To go to your favorite spot for prayer or journaling, for example, is like going to a gym and using a weight machine. As physical disciplines like this promote strength, so the spiritual disciplines promote godliness.” As we grow in godliness we grow in sanctification, and that is the goal of the Christian life. (1 Thessalonians 4:3)
I am a list setter and a planner. I like to write my to-do lists and I like to schedule out my days. There may be times I need to adjust on the fly, however I do so much better in my day if I have a plan worked out telling me what I need to do and when. Because of that I have tried a lot of planners. Digital and print, specialized and general, purchased and homemade. I’ve tried them all. And nothing is just right — just what I’m looking for.
The specialized ones are too … ummm … specialized, not leaving room for the other areas of my life. The general ones don’t allow me the space for jotting down notes and brainstorming — processes that help me keep my brain in check. Digital ones keep me in a box of “fill in this blank with this type of information” — sometimes (a lot of the time) my life doesn’t fit in a box. Then there are the printable planners that boast of completely customizable pages that include several different options to make the planner what I need it to be. I just print what I want. That sounds great in theory, but printing 150 pages in full color and binding it in something durable is expensive! I’d honestly rather pay a little bit more to buy one already printed and professionally bound.
So what it boils down to is that I want a planner that is already printed and bound, that is not specialized in to categories like homeschool calendar or blog calendar, but has room for me to brainstorm my thoughts and allows me to schedule out my day to include all the different things I do.
Enter the Living Well Planner. I found it a year ago when I was searching for a good way to plan my chaotic life and bring the overwhelm under control. I was unhappy with the last two planners I had purchased as they were homeschool specialized and were not conducive to the other areas of my life. I had been a reader of Ruth Soukup’s blog for a couple years and had heard about the planner but hadn’t checked it out yet. It seemed to have everything I was looking for, so I took the leap and ordered it. I’m so glad I did!
My favorite parts are the goal setting and project planning pages at the beginning of each month. It’s a place for me to brainstorm the “big thing” I’m trying to accomplish right now and set goals for projects I want to accomplish in the future. The worksheets help to break up my big “to-do’s” into actionable steps. It’s especially helpful that there is a new set of goal pages every month as I have different things I want/need to accomplish that often.
The goal setting page at the beginning of each month.
Project planning pages following the goal setting page.
Then there are the weekly pages. Every day is laid out by the hour so I can time block what I need to do each day. For a slightly scatter-brained person like me, that is a life saver. In addition to the time block, there is a space to write your daily “must-do” and what’s for dinner. Seriously, it’s like this planner was made just for me!
The weekly planning pages. Everything is undated so you can start whenever!
In addition to these pages every month, there is also a monthly budget page, thoughts and thanks page, and a notes page. You could literally almost keep your whole life in this planner — and it’s beautiful too!! The months are tabbed making it easy to flip right where you need to be.
There are a multitude of planners out there — one to fit every taste and niche, and then some! While that means that somewhere in the sea of planners there is something that fits your unique personality, it also can be overwhelming. So I thought I’d share with you the planner I use and enjoy. I hope this review was helpful to you.
In full disclosure, I do earn a little commission of your purchase, but it has not effected my review in the least. I had this planner for a year before I became an affiliate and I would recommend it regardless of that fact. It is a planner I will purchase again in the future.