Did you try it? How did it go?
One thing that I have been reminded of this week is that our children aren’t usually the only ones starving for God’s Word. We moms–the perpetual martyrs that we are–tend to ignore our own need for spiritual nourishment. It’s pretty hard to serve and nurture others when you yourself are famished, isn’t it?
For most folks, the solution to this problem seems to be to get up earlier or stay up later, in order to spend time alone with God. However, this is not always practical when sleep is at a premium and there is a toddler whose feet instinctively hit the floor 12.5 seconds after mom’s do. This can lead to feelings of guilt and inadequacy, and a resolution to wake up even earlier tomorrow.
If your find yourself in these shoes–or slippers, as the case may be–I have a couple of thoughts that, hopefully, will encourage you.
First of all, your “quiet time” doesn’t suddenly, magically “not count” because it is interrupted. Some of my most special quiet times have been with a bleary eyed little one snuggled up next to me while I finish my reading.
Also, remember that we have many examples in the Gospels of Jesus going away alone to pray. His times alone with His Heavenly Father were sometimes interrupted by crowds of needy people who were desperate to see Him:
Now when Jesus heard this, he withdrew from there in a boat to a desolate place by himself. But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns. When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick.” Matthew 14:13-14
It’s so easy to see our little ones as interruptions, but they are our ministry! We need to remind ourselves not to get so easily frustrated with the blessings He has given us. Putting down your Bible to change a diaper, kiss an owie, or give a hug does not make you less godly–if anything, it makes you more godly.
With that in mind, how do we get more of the Word of God into our mommy brains and hearts, so that we can love and serve Christ more fully as we compassionately love and serve our families? Here are a few simple ideas:
1. Feed while feeding. It’s a beautiful truth–when I read the Bible out loud to my children, I’m reading it to myself as well. When I serve them a feast, I feast, too. “Education experts” will tell you that the best way to know that you’ve mastered a subject is to teach it to someone else. I find this to be notably true of teaching my little ones the Bible. The Word of God is rich and complex. We can study it for a lifetime and never master it! And yet, it’s message is accessible to little children.
But Jesus called them to him, saying, ‘Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.’” Luke 18:16-17
At that time Jesus declared, ‘I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will.’” Matthew 11:25-26
2. Set up little “restaurants” for yourself. I was reading this week in one of my favorite cookbooks, The Joy of Cooking, about the origin of the word “restaurant”. The first restaurants were not places where people would gather for leisurely, fancy meals. Rather, they were places where a weary traveler might “restaur” (restore) his strength with a hot bowl of soup before continuing on his journey.
You can do something similar to restore your spiritual vitality throughout the day by surrounding yourself with the Word of God, posting it in places where you can see it. I mentioned in a recent post that I have put up sticky notes with Bible memory verses in key areas of my home, to remind me of important things that I believe God wants me to meditate on. This is a quick and practical way that I can live out Deuteronomy 6:9–
You shall write them [God's Words] on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” Deuteronomy 6:9
3. Listen up! Silently reading by yourself is not the only way to by taught from the Scriptures. In fact, many of us ladies, myself included, are auditory learners.
So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” Romans 10:17
There are many audio-Bibles these days. It used to be that owning the Bible on cassette or CD would be a big financial investment, but now there are several audio-Bibles available online for free:
-NASB audio-Bible (Online listening only, not downloadable)
I am also a big fan of sermonaudio.com . We live in an unprecedented time, where we have access to solid Bible teaching, from some of the world’s greatest preachers, that we can download and listen to at any time of day, right in our own homes. I like to sync them to my mp3 player or copy them to CD. We typically listen to R.C. Sproul’s Renewing Your Mind podcast daily. Another favorite (weekly) podcast of mine is White Horse Inn.
What are some ways that you “feed” yourself–and your children–the Word of God?
Next week I’ll be hosting God Made, Home Grown’s first link-up! So whether they be your most creative ideas, or simply your honest thoughts along the journey, write them down, grab the button from the sidebar (or use one of the images below), and get ready to link back here next week!
By His Grace,
Have you ever had a bad food day?
You know, the kind of day where breakfast consists of granola bars in the car on the way to a field trip–to which you are still late?
Then, when the field trip is over, you realize that you forgot to pack a picnic lunch. You stick around for a while, chatting with your friends while the children run circles around each other–even homeschoolers need to socialize every once in a while. (right?)
Then suddenly, your two year old melts into a kicking, screaming puddle of tantrum and tears…which, of course, reminds you that it’s 1pm and the kids haven’t eaten lunch yet. In the least whiny voice she can muster, your five year old tugs on your skirt and says, “Mommy, I’m really hungry.” Okay, gotta go.
So, you find the nearest burger joint, collapse in a booth with your tray, and start doling out french fries. (“Why, yes, thank-you, they are all mine!”) You breath an air-conditioned sigh of relief, sip your iced tea, and try not to think about how much less expensive it would have been to feed them at home.
By the time you pull into the driveway it is 3pm. The baby and the toddler are asleep. You shuttle your brood and all their stuff into the house, and lay the little ones in their beds. You’re just about to put your feet up and read a good book to the older kids when the phone rings. You decide that it’s the better part of wisdom not to answer the phone right now…but when you recognize the voice on the answering machine to be a good friend going through a crisis…
“Okay, children, let’s get out the paper and crayons and color at the table for a while,”
…and you call her back. Before you know it nap time is over and the afternoon is gone. How did it get to be 5:30?
The children, whose little bodies are already stressed from the high-sugar, low nutrient day are running out of patience. And so are you. Your darling husband calls and, hearing the anxiety in your voice, decides to save the day by bringing home pizza. You choke down the mommy guilt, break out the paper plates, and call it “good enough”. Tomorrow is a new day, right?
While I hate to admit it, I have had this day. The good news is, it’s not most days. In fact, they are few and far between. Most of the time I feed my children nutritious meals at reasonable times. I am very blessed to be able to provide my little ones with good food. Even on our worst days, they do eat. If I decided that we were too busy today and neglected to feed my children anything, you’d probably think I was a pretty lousy mother, wouldn’t you?
And yet, most of us wouldn’t bat an eyelash at the thought of going an entire day without reading the Bible to our children. In fact, many children with otherwise attentive Christian parents are chronically spiritually malnourished.
Man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.” Deuteronomy 8:3
We’ve all heard that verse, but have we considered the implications? The nourishment of the Word of God is just as important to our souls as physical nourishment is to our bodies.
like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation,” 1 Peter 2:2 (NASB)
Having nursed a few babies, I can tell you that newborns need to be fed frequently. Christians–especially young ones–are the same way. We need the Word of God, not just every day, but many, many times every day.
Have you quit feeding your children? Are their little bellies starving for pure spiritual milk from the Bible? Take heart! If you have a Bible in your house, your family’s next “meal” is readily available, and it won’t even cost you a trip to the grocery store.
Not sure where to start? Need a menu? How about this one:
A Psalm for Breakfast, A Gospel for lunch, and An Epistle for Dinner
There you have it. Three square meals a day.
That’s too simple!
Maybe, but you can do it, right?
But I won’t get through the whole Bible doing it this way!
Maybe not, but is it more than you’re already doing?
Will you try it for a week? Let me know by posting below!
And, check back here next week for more more ideas to get your kids feasting on the Word of God!
By His Grace,
There are dirty little plastic dishes in my sink.
There are piles of half-folded laundry in my living room, and crumbs in my carpet, and broken crayons under my table.
There are stuffed animals, and mismatched socks, and little girl barrettes, and board books under my bed.
Some people’s baker’s racks are neatly adorned with hand-painted tea cups. Mine is piled high with children’s pencil drawings and water color creations on construction paper.
My office is filled with books I’ve been meaning to read and books I’ve been meaning to sell and papers I need to file and papers I need to throw away.
It’s after bedtime, but my washing machine is still busily agitating, in hopes that I might have clean diapers in the morning.
At least the wooden train set made it into it’s box–no one likes that kind of middle-of-the-night surprise on the bottom of their bare foot.
Yes. My house is filled with stuff. Messes. Clutter. Dare I say, Chaos.
Some days, I get the best of it. Most days, it gets the best of me.
I’ve been thinking a lot about stuff lately…wondering just how easy it would be for us to condense all our earthly possessions into a small U-Haul trailer if the LORD told us to go somewhere else…and I’ve realized what a powerful grip stuff still has on me.
I think about how much time I spend cleaning stuff, rearranging stuff, tripping over stuff, looking for lost stuff, and buying more stuff. How much time my husband spends working to pay for stuff.
Even this blog is a thing–something that needs to be maintained, lest it lose its value (something I have not been doing a very good job of lately).
And yet, if the world were really to come to an end, and Jesus were to return tonight (as, so far, He hasn’t), there are really only five things around here that matter much…
…five” things” that I can take with me…
…my husband, and my four precious children.
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
No, Christ may not return tonight, but He is coming.
“But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.”
2 Peter 3:10
There is a far-worse middle-of-the-night surprise than stepping on wooden train pieces…
Am I living my life, each day, as though it were the very last day I had to teach my children to know, love, serve, and follow Him?
A mother out running errands with a small tribe of little children is bound to subject herself to comments by strangers. While some are rude, most are well meaning…and some are even, perhaps, a little over-generous in their compliments.
The comment I hear most often from little-old-ladies in the grocery store is (can you say it with me?),
“You sure have your hands full!”
Over the past few years, I’ve done my best to come up with a few standard, polite, and sweet responses.
“Better full than empty!”
“Yes I do…isn’t it wonderful?”
“I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
I recently heard a new one that I haven’t had a chance to use yet…
“Yes, and so is my heart.”
At first hearing, it sounds cute and fluffy–and maybe it’s meant to be–but it is a very accurate description of the current state of my soul.
My heart…so full that it aches…full to breaking…about to burst.
So full that I can hardly bear to write about it anymore. I try, but the words all seem inadequate.
There are a lot of things that people worry about when they become parents–”How will I afford to raise them?”, “Will they be healthy?”, “Will they have good friends?”, “Will they be successful, happy people?”.
I do think about these kinds of things, but they are not my greatest concern.
You see, I am Mom to four little souls…
Souls that will never die…
Souls that will spend eternity in one of two places–Heaven or Hell…
Souls that I am commanded to train up in the way that they should go…
To love, serve, and follow Him.
The weight of the responsibility is crushing…excruciating…and I am afraid.
Most of us who have been involved in children’s ministry for any length of time have heard of the 4/14 window. That is, in the USA, 85% of people who make a decision for Jesus Christ, do so between the ages of 4 and 14.
The reasons for this are obvious. Jesus said that whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will not enter it at all (see Mark 10:13-16). Little children are able to accept the truths of God’s Word in a way that their more cynical, “grown-up” counterparts cannot.
Oh, the blessedness of being able to teach a little child about the Word of God, and about our LORD and Savior Jesus Christ!
However, as I have been pondering the 4/14 window recently, I was made aware of a bleak juxtaposition that ought make us rethink how we do children’s ministry:
If 85% of people who make decisions for Jesus Christ do so between the ages of 4 and 14…
If somewhere between 75-88% of children identified as Evangelical Christians abandon their faith by the end of their freshman year in college…
Many…possibly the vast majority…of those “decisions” that were made by children in the 4/14 window, were not decisions at all…
We have a lousy track record as American Christians in discipling our children!
Ask any Sunday School teacher or children’s ministry director how easy it is to get a group of Kindergarteners to raise their hands and pray a prayer to ask “Jesus into their heart”.
Smile a lot…talk about how much Jesus loves them…talk about heaven.
They’ll raise their hands.
But, are they reached?
Why not? Because they do not understand the Gospel.
-They do not understand that God is Holy and Righteous and cannot tolerate sin in His presence.
-They do not understand that they are hopeless sinners, in desperate need of a Savior.
-They do not understand that Jesus Christ, who is God Incarnate, the Son of God, the Second Person of the Trinity, lived a perfect, sinless life, died on the cross to pay the penalty for sin, and rose again on the third day according to the Scriptures.
-They do not know that Jesus Christ is the only way to God, and that it is only by putting their faith and trust in Him exclusively for salvation that they can be rescued from the eternal punishment for their sin.
For too many churches, children’s ministry has become about getting as many children as possible to pray a prayer of “magic words”. Forget whether or not they understand what they just said.
Similar things could be said about churches whose practical, applied theology teaches parents that infant baptism is what saves a child. If they abandon their faith as teenagers, we have a false-peace that, because they were baptized, they are “okay”.
This is born out by the fact that research from the Nehemiah Institute shows that less than 10% of churched teens have a biblical worldview. This does not just apply to so-called “moral” issues, but also to the basic tenets of the Christian faith, and whether or not there is such thing as absolute truth at all.
We must face a harsh reality–when our young people reject biblical Christianity after having made some sort of profession of faith, their “decision for Christ” was no real decision at all.
A Radically Different Approach
Now, before you dismiss me as anti-child evangelism, let me assure you that nothing could be further from the truth.
I am fanatical about child evangelism. This is one of the biggest reasons that I homeschool my children. I want to make sure that I am teaching my children the truths of God’s Word all day, everyday, in every area of our lives. I want to live and breathe Deuteronomy 6 with my children.
My point is that our current approach to child evangelism is not working, and for many young people it is leading to a false-assurance of salvation.
Sunday School is not enough. AWANA is not enough. Youth Group is not enough. Christian Camping is not enough. We must be discipling our children in our homes.
What about spiritual orphans…kids who don’t have Christian parents?
…we should be discipling them in our homes, too. (More about this in a future post).
Many of us believe we must do this, but most of us don’t. Recent research from the Barna Institute shows that, of the few Christian parents who actually talk about their faith with their children in their homes, most devote less than 30 minutes per week to the practice. Ouch.
Contrast this with the 14,000 hours that 96% of kids from Christian homes spend in the public schools, being indoctrinated into secular humanism, and it is no wonder we have a problem on our hands.
The answer to me is obvious. We as Christians must take responsibility for the spiritual formation of our children. We cannot abdicate our responsibility to the Sunday School teacher or Youth Pastor. It’s our job.
Yes, it will mean a radical change in lifestyle for many of us.
Yes, it will mean thinking differently then we ever have before, and questioning assumptions we have made about church and family life, making sure that they line up with Scripture.
Yes, it will cost us time and money.
Yes, some people will think we are crazy.
…we afford what we care about,
…we prioritize what is important to us,
…we sacrifice for what matters,
As for me and my house, the thing we want most for our children is that they become fully-devoted followers of Jesus Christ, and that they dwell in the house of the LORD forever.