When I was young my mom helped me develop one habit that would remain intact for the rest of my life. That was the habit of daily time with the Lord – through reading the Word and prayer.
I was in grade school – maybe 1st or 2nd grade when Mom got me my first quiet time journal through Word of Life. I continued to use their devotionals through my high school years.
This was one habit I knew I wanted to instill in my children, but wasn’t sure whether they were ready for them. But I found that Word of Life did have a book out for 5 & 6 years olds (for my middle daughter) and another book for 1st/2nd grade (for my oldest). Of course, my little two-year-old isn’t ready yet but he sits in on the Bible reading and discussion.
Things I love about these quiet time journals
- Everyone is on the same verse. Currently it is easier to read the passage to the kids rather than have them read it by themselves – partly because one of them is not yet reading. Since I read the Scripture we find that during/after breakfast is the best time to do the devotionals. At some point, in a few years, I would like to encourage them to do theirs individually but for now this works well
- The message of salvation is very clear! The devotionals make a point, many times throughout the year, to ask whether the child has a personal relationship with Jesus.
Emphasis of the Devotionals
- Obedience to Christ/pleasing God
- Being in heaven someday – anything we do now is for heaven
- Telling others about Him/evangelism
I am glad for the focus of these things because learning this will help kids to become morally upright and to share their faith. However, as I reflect on my own journey of faith (which I write more about in Beyond Head Knowledge) I know that one of my biggest struggles was trying to do things for God and feeling like I was not measuring up to His standard. I can’t help but wonder if some of that had to do with the focus of teaching. Though I do believe that in part my bent towards wanting to measure up to God’s standard had to do with my personality and family life, I as a parent, want to learn to balance the truth of God’s word when relaying it to my children.
Two things I would change/ add to
Heaven: If I am to talk about being in heaven someday with Jesus I also want to talk about the joy of fellowship with Him here and now. As a child and even as an adult I wanted to do good to have reward in heaven but I didn’t even feel like I knew the love of God, whom I was serving. It is the love relationship that we have with Him which will cause us to desire heaven after this life. But heaven (living with Him forever) is the natural result of having a deep relationship with Him here on earth.
The Holy Spirit: Whenever obedience, or evangelism comes up I believe it is important to also incorporate teaching on the work of the Holy Spirit. If I don’t I believe that we can be led to believe that we are doing these good works on our own strength. Children need to know, from a young age, that they are not alone in this journey, they have the power of the Holy Spirit to lead them and guide them.
No resource is ever perfect
Regardless of what resources or devotionals you use to help your children develop their walk with the Lord, remember that no resource is perfect. Ask the Lord to give you wisdom through His Spirit to know how to relay truth to your children individually in ways that he/she can understand.
The following are two particular examples where I felt the teaching could have been a bit clearer. These are taken from the 1st/2nd grade edition.
The verse from this day is Psalm 75:7″ It is God who judges: He brings one down, he exalts another.” I agree with the statement in the devotional which says you learn right from wrong by reading God’s word, but I do think we also need to share the added value of let the Holy Spirit convict our hearts and teach us. My personal opinion is that just adding one brief sentence about the Holy Spirit’s guidance would bring greater clarity as we teach our children.
Psalm 70:4 But may all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you; may those who long for your saving help always say, “The LORD is great!
For this particular day I feel like so much teaching is lost! Instead of allowing the child to think about what God has done for them, saved them from, the focus turns to what the child can do for God (go to church, pray, and study the Word – which are all good things). If we want our children to find joy in their lifelong relationship with God they need to be able to connect Bible verses to their own life. How has God been a saving help to them? Maybe in a bad dream, maybe traveling in a car keeping them from an accident. It could be many things that God has done for them.
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