Sunday, May 15, 2011

Deuteronomy 6 in 2011

4 Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 5 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6 These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. 7 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. 8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9 Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates. 

Also known as the Shema, Deuteronomy 6:4-9 has formed the backbone of Jewish prayer services since the Israelites crossed the Red Sea in 1445 B.C. (roughly).

I'm not Jewish, but I do believe that teaching our children about God is the most important job we
have as parents.  Biblical training should be a daily occurance, not just a once-a-week event.  Consequently, I take the Shema very seriously.  But what does that actually look like in 2011?

Yesterday, I wrote about Making Child Discipleship a Priority, so now we'll talk about what that looks like in a typical family on a typical day.  Biblical training doesn't mean you are sitting down with workbooks for hours (not that I'm opposed to that).  Deuteronomy 6 tells us to teach God's work to our children throughout the course of our day.  Here are some ideas to get you started.  And no, we don't do all of these things, but we strive to add a little more day by day.   Pick what will work for your family and add more as you get into the habit.

"when you sit at home"
I know "Read the Bible" is a no-brainer for any age, but here are some activities for older children:
Do a word study on a character trait that you want your child to work on (such as Mercy) or a sin you want them to avoid (like defiance).  Look it up in a dictionary.  Notice Synonyms and Antonyms.  Use a concordance (I like to find verses in the Bible dealing with this word.  Discuss how the child can apply the things they've learned.
Study the events of the Bible in chronological order to see how everything fits together. I am a huge believer in this.  Too often our kids hear stories from the Bible in random order, and they don't realize how everything is connected.  We use the Bible cards and memory cds from Veritas Press to teach the major events in order.  The cards are pricey but awesome!  My kids can say the first 32 events in scripture along with Bible references and dates (when applicable), and we'll do the next 32 events next year.  You can also google Bible chronology for kids and find quite a bit of information.
Study a person from the Bible (and feel free to study someone other than the "famous" ones.  Branch out to a lesser known character once in a while).  Have your child list the person's strengths and weaknesses.  Did they ever mess up?  Did they ever disobey God?  How did God use them despite their failures?  It's extremely reassuring to learn that even Abraham, Moses, and Paul messed up royally and God still used them to do mighty things.  

The dinner table is a great place for the kids to tell Dad or other siblings what they are learning.  Imagine how impressed Grandma and Grandpa will be when they come to visit and hear your little ones discussing the moral failures of King Ahaz and his effect on the kingdom of Judah, for instance :-).

"along the road"

Listen to Bible songs in the car.  You could even listen to the Bible on CD if they are old enough.  My 10-year-old son likes to listen to Christian podcasts when he's riding with his dad.
Listen to a book on CD (doesn't necessarily have to be Christian as long as it is appropriate) and discuss the good and bad traits of the characters.  Is there a moral lesson the author is trying to convey? 

Quiz the kids on Bible verses they have learned.  Keep materials in the car so they will be available for unexpected delays.  

"when you lie down"

Read a Bible passage before bed and discuss how they feel it applies to them.

Talk about their day and any issues that came up.

Ask them to give an example of something they witnessed that was pleasing to the Lord, and something that was not.  Help them confess their sins and ask for forgiveness.

"when you get up"

Make time to eat breakfast as a family, especially if the children aren't home for lunch.  Use this time to pray for the day ahead, memorize Bible verses, and read a short devotional or Bible story.  Keep the materials on or near the table so they are within easy reach.    

"Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads"

I'm not sure about the forehead thing, but my son does have a variety of Christian t-shirts, and I've seen some lovely scripture-related jewelry and purses that I'd love to get for my girls when they are older.  I wear a cross necklace ever day myself.  I also have several friends with tattoos of Bible verses, but that may be going a bit too far for the under-18 set ;-)

"Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates" 

We can easily put verses around the house to act as reminders.  Many gift shops and Christian bookstores carry beautiful artwork with verses on them, but an index card on the fridge or bathroom mirror may be more effective.

I know all of this may seem overwhelming, but don't worry.  As I said, we don't do all of these things everyday.  Just pick one thing and do it for a week.  Then try to add something else the next week.  Your family is a work in progress.  Start making biblical training a priority and God will honor you for your efforts.  I know the positive changes you'll see in your children will encourage you to keep going.
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1 comment:

  1. I really like the way you think, Tiffany. Excellent post filled with great ideas. I am printing this and putting it in my prayer notebook. Thanks for sharing!


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