Essential homework: Read the Bible

It’s back-to-school season, and you may be flitting around with supply lists and hope for your children to receive a solid education. Please remember as you plan the school year that no schooling is complete without the scripture.

Start by reading through the gospels as a family where your children will be introduced to the greatest person who ever lived: Jesus Christ. He’s way more important than other historical figures your kids will learn about, like Columbus, Pasteur, and Tubman. Though your children may not be tested in school about the life of Christ, they will be tested in life. The teachings of Jesus will equip them for those spiritual and personal challenges.

Within a week of reading the Book of Matthew, for example, they will learn why Jesus came to earth, and they will have heard God’s call of repentance from sin. Kids need to know what sin is in order to regulate their decisions. They need to know the whole reason Jesus was born was “to save his people from their sins,” not so we could exchange gifts in December.

In Chapter 4, your family can talk about spiritual warfare and how to confront evil thoughts. In Chapters 5-7, Jesus lays out character qualities and commands that inspire peacemaking, marital fidelity, compassion for the needy, and freedom from greed and worry. What parent doesn’t want to talk about this stuff to their kids? Christian parents are mandated to offer up this instruction. It’s more important than Algebra, sports, and college scholarships, but those earthly things have a way of pushing out what’s eternal.

Matthew Chapter 7 is capped off with a key admonition that we build our house on the rock of Christ’s teaching. Those who don’t can expect their homes to crumble. Those who do can expect their homes to stand. It’s simple, yet I get why parents struggle with putting scripture first.

When my children were young:

1996

…we read the Bible every day and talked about its principles during “Conference,” our version of a morning meeting. When people ask me now why our family is so strong, it’s because of Conference and other ways we put Jesus at the center of our lives: We attended church. We served and sacrficed for others. We prayed.

When the kids became teens and began heading to college:

c 2009

all of these habits slipped. Their schedules made it hard to circle up as a family. When we did, they seemed bored and annoyed. They slouched and didn’t engage in the conversation, and Joe and I were equally tired and preoccupied with work and personal stress. All of this definitely diminished the value of Conference in my mind and we didn’t keep it up.

Now I know we should have soldiered through that season and sustained our commitment to sharing the Bible together. It’s precisely during the teen years when children need a moral compass. Sticking with Bible reading opens up conversations that are otherwise difficult to have, conversations I am sorry we abandoned.

Our children are all adults now and some have kids of their own:

November 2018

The foundation of biblical principles we laid for them certainly help as they endure the very storms Jesus predicted would befall all of us. Though I regret Joe and I were less strong in our focus on scripture when our children got older, God nonetheless surrounded them with godly peers and leaders as they ventured out to college and the workplace. God is merciful like that.

But His mercy also includes commands to learn his truth as a family unit. It’s the most important home work we will ever do.

24-25 “These words I speak to you are not incidental additions to your life, homeowner improvements to your standard of living. They are foundational words, words to build a life on. If you work these words into your life, you are like a smart carpenter who built his house on solid rock. Rain poured down, the river flooded, a tornado hit—but nothing moved that house. It was fixed to the rock.

26-27 “But if you just use my words in Bible studies and don’t work them into your life, you are like a stupid carpenter who built his house on the sandy beach. When a storm rolled in and the waves came up, it collapsed like a house of cards.”

Matthew 7.24-27

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