In raising our 14 kids I can’t say we’ve always been consistent in family devotion times with the kids. It actually got much harder as the kids got older and had so many out of the home commitments. But before we got to that stage, we had fairly consistent family Bible times.
In the next couple of posts I plan to share some of the things we did that proved successful but not overwhelming to accomplish, as well as some of the resources we developed that can be picked up and used without prep time on Dad or Mom’s part. Rick was a dad who had a physically intensive job so he would come home very tired and not at his creative best, so something that did not require a lot of preparation was important for that reason. Perhaps you find yourself in a similar situation.
Family Devotions don’t have to be in-depth, or extremely time-consuming. They don’t have to follow a particular formula, and you don’t have to have visuals and activities planned out to accompany your time together in order to “make it work”. What is important, really, is that you try to set aside some time to simply lead your family in listening to God’s word and discussing it together. If you want to do more, great! But, if you cannot- don’t lose heart! Do what you can. Little is MUCH when God is in it!
Here are Easy Ideas and Resources for Family Devotions:
How can you instill the practice of studying God’s Word into your children? Well, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. But, let me share with you what we did with our own children….
From the time our children were babes in the bassinet, we played Bible audios for them at sleep times. It would be a comfort to them and help them to settle down to turn on their Bible CD’s. Pretty early on, Rick recorded audios for them and explained difficult words and meanings to them which was actually teaching them how to meditate on God’s Word. This also served to show the kids that God’s Word was practical and interesting to listen to.
We read Bible stories to our little people and had a Friday night Bible quiz each week asking questions from our reading during the week. We would reward them for answering questions, and it encouraged them to be attentive during reading times- to want to “pay attention on purpose.”
If you’re like me, you can think of a million things you’d like to have time to do. Worthwhile things, too. I’d like to learn to play a musical instrument, be more involved in politics, be more active in my church, and read a lot of good books. (Some of which have been on my shelf for years). Many times, I’ve thought how I could improve myself if I only had time. But God reminds me that He is improving me through the very common responsibilities that I think are keeping me from my chosen pursuits.
God knows us better than we know ourselves. He knows what challenges, responsibilities and opportunities to bring into our lives as He builds a life curriculum for each of us. It is when we kick against the pricks and are constantly looking for something else more fulfilling that we miss fulfillment. I used to think that I was wasting my potential by not being in a full-time ministerial position. These days, I’m coming to see that there’s no more important ministry than the stewardship of little lives. We moms and dads hold the keys to future generations. We mustn’t get bogged down in the daily grind and forget to smell the roses, on one hand, and revel in the prospect of future achievement on the other.
There will be different seasons in the lives of our children, we’ve found. There was a time when we were living in our little yellow house in Concord and had two, then three, then four little boys. I was young and eager, wanting to get into full-time ministry work and leaving no stone unturned looking for God’s big opportunity for me. I was eager to get into the Lord’s work and out of painting. My wife stuck close to her home and children while my eyes were on the ends of the earth.
In the early days of our parenthood, it sometimes seemed that life would go on forever as it was going then. We’d never have any money, we’d never have a child who was old enough to babysit, we’d never have air conditioning. I was so tense as a young man that I made life harder for myself and those around me.
I’ve heard Marilyn say that when she had three children, life was tougher than it was with eight because when she had only three, there were no big helpers. Two were in diapers, and Rickey was a bundle of energy. Now, of course, we have some good help trained and that is a blessing, but the extra needs of the family are felt, too. It takes a tremendous expenditure of time, finances and effort to do what we do.
But by now we know that it won’t always be this way. There may be tougher times with a sick child or persecution such as when we were in court over home education. And there will almost certainly be easier times, too, when more of our children are mature teens and ready to carry their own weight and somebody else’s, too. All we know for sure is that everything that comes to pass, passes.
This series of posts is excerpted from the book, Yes, They’re All Ours and were written by Rick Boyer in 1996…..
If anybody ever invents a time machine, I want the first one off the assembly line. I’ll have a thousand things I want to do. I’ll explore history and find out what really happened on a number of occasions. I’ll return to my childhood and try to make peace with some of the painful things that happened to me and revisit the happy times at Granddad’s farm with my cousins. But the very first thing I’d do, is go back to when my children were little.
Oh, what I’d give to see my big boys small again. I used to get bored sometimes with pulling them in the wagon or pushing them on the swings, but I’d give a lot to be able to do it again. I don’t think I’d ever tire of it. To carry them on my shoulders again; to tickle them ‘til they screamed. To have nobody around who knew that Dad wasn’t perfect, that is, except Mom. To be able to hug and kiss my boys without embarrassing them.
Time to get out and work in the yard and garden and just to be in the warm sunshine after the long winter.
I was trying to evaluate what I need to work on outside when I encountered a valuable object lesson. I have a yellow lab named Mosby.
I couldn’t ask for a better dog. He would NEVER hurt one of my many grand kids (unless he whacked them with his giant tail by mistake). He’s a great dog- protects the family, absolutely loves , quiet in temperament, obedient (usually), but there’s just one thing I don’t suppose I’ll ever break him of…..
That’s a question we asked our kids often during their growing up years.
We made it into a little game that the kids begged to play. It was fun.
You are with a friend and he is about to pick the neighbor’s raspberries without permission. He wants you to join him. What should you do?
You hear of an elderly man at church who is recovering from surgery. You wonder if there are things he might need done around his home. What should you do?
Your baby sister grabbed your Bible and tore out several pages while you were out of the room. What should you do?
We would think of situations of temptation that we were pretty sure our kids would have to deal with in whatever stage of life they were experiencing. Then for family time, we asked our kids, “What would you do if…..”.
Character is so lacking in our culture today. Really, it’s more important to train your children in godly character than in any of the academic subjects. It is, in fact, a solid cornerstone for life. God seems to make a way for those who have learned to intentionally strive to build godly disciplines into their lives. Knowledge alone ‘puffeth’ up. (1 Cor. 8:1) Character, unfortunately, doesn’t just happen. It must be taught and cultivated. Children need to learn practical handles to apply it to situations they face day to day.
For years I have been distributing a handout called Identifying and Dealing with Offenses to moms wherever I speak. It is a list I made from observing the negative character traits in my own 14 kid’s lives. As I would see a problem area crop up, I went to the Scripture to see what the Word had to say about it, and then I made up short answer questions for the kids to use to help dig out the treasures of God’s Word concerning each issue.
Through the years, moms asked me to develop a study to make it easier for them to use, hence—Growing in Wisdom.
Do you grow weary of hearing your kids complain or argue with you or their brothers and sisters? How can you control their outbursts of anger? Did you know that God’s Word has a LOT to say about those issues and so many more? In fact, the heart of every problem you encounter with your kids is addressed in the Word, and He gives us the wisdom for knowing how to deal with it.
Consider Ephesians 4:
“So this I say, and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind….. But you did not learn Christ in this way, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus,that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit,and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.”
We learn here 3 commands :
We are to lay aside or PUT OFF the old self. Romans 6 tells us that our old life has been buried with Christ and we are now dead to sin. However, we must present our bodies to God as instruments of righteousness. “But now you also, put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices” \
We are to be RENEWED IN OUR MINDS – We renew our minds by memorizing and meditating on Scripture, by learning what God’s Word says and acting upon it daily. Joshua 1:8 tells us “This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success.”We are promised success if we meditate on God’s Word.
We are to PUT ON our new self. Colossians 3 tells us “So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience;bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity” We are to actively strive to cultivate these qualities in our life. The Holy Spirit is there to guide and help us.
“ Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart Be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my rock and my Redeemer.” Psalm 19:14
Words can be so damaging or so uplifting. Words can tear down or build up. Words can discourage or encourage. We are doing our kids a huge favor if we teach them Biblical guidelines for choosing wise words; AND it will eliminate LOTS of problems in our homes, too.
Scripture has so much to say about our words. One Scripture we used in our home as a good guide for choosing your words was Ephesians 4: 29 ” Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification [according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.