How To Teach Your Toddler The Gospel: 5 Theological Truths to Teach Your Little One

Wondering how to teach your toddler the gospel? Read on for five truths to get you started!

The other night, as I was getting my (just turned) three year old in bed, he said something that made me stop and think.

He said something to the extent of: “now that I’m three I’m going to do good things!”

I felt like I had transported back in time three and a half years. Echoes of strangely similar conversations with my eldest rang in my ears.  And it all came rushing back to me.

How many times did we talk about how only God always does good things? How many times did I lay out the gospel, when one day everything clicked and he set out on a course to follow Jesus with all his heart?

Because isn’t that our highest goal as parents?

To lay out the path to the gospel and see our kids travel down that road? At first, holding their hand, guiding their feet, and then watching them walk the walk themselves.

In that one statement from my middle son, it hit me. It’s time.

Now, don’t get me wrong. He doesn’t know a time without me telling him about God. Without me reading from his Bible. He knows the stories. He knows that Jesus died on the cross.

But now, as he is growing, things are going to start to change. His ability to converse is getting better. A sense of right and wrong is emerging within him. It is time for me to be more aware, more intentional with the way I talk to him.

After the conversation we had that night, I thought back to the things I did with my oldest. There is only 3 ½ years between them, but it seems so long ago that he was in this stage! As I thought, I came up with five theological truths that were laid as a foundation of understanding that allowed him to internalize the gospel message.

So, if you’ve ever wondered how to begin teach your toddler the gospel, this is an excellent place to begin. Because even though they can’t understand complex theological topics at this age, we can begin to lay the foundation for the future.

5 Foundations for Teaching Your Toddler the Gospel

1. God Made the World

As soon as you crack open the Bible (including your child’s storybook Bible), you are immediately confronted with this truth. God made everything. Everything is His. When you teach this to your child you set the foundation for the truth that God is sovereign over his creation.

This is one of the first and easiest truths to explain to your little one. Toddlers are already in explore mode. They love learning more about the world around them. They are already so full of wonder over creation. They love knowing that God made the flowers, and the sky, and the dog that lives next door.

Here are some simple ways to introduce this concept:

  • Reading the creation story in a storybook Bible (check out this one).
  • Going outside and looking at everything God made.
  • Modeling a sense of wonder when you look at something amazing that God created.
  • Looking at pictures of the things God has created in books.

2. God Made YOU

When God created this wonderful world, the grand finale was his creation of humans – his greatly loved and cherished children. When we tell our children that God made them, it establishes a foundation that they are loved and valuable to God.

Little kids love to hear about themselves. They love themselves! If something involves them, they want to hear about it. It makes them feel so special to know that God made them and loves them.

Here are some simple ways to introduce this concept:

  • Look at pictures from when they were a baby and talk about how happy you were that God gave them to you.
  • Tell your child what you love about them by saying “I love how God made you…”
  • Have your child flex their muscles and say “wow, God made you so strong!”
  • Have your child stretch out big and say “look how big and tall God made you!”
  • Make sure to also mention how God made other people special too!

3. Only God is Always Good

This is the conversation that I had with my son that night. He didn’t fully understand what I meant, but in time he will. When children hear the message that it is only God who is always good, it sets a foundation for the truth that God is holy and righteous.

It seems like most kids go through this phase of extreme desire to be “good.” I remember my oldest as a little three year old, always talking about how he was going to “do good things.” While it is easy to brush these comments off as “cute”, they are the perfect time to introduce this important truth.

Here are some simple ways to introduce this concept:

  • Remind your child during moments of discipline that only God can be good all the time, but that he will help us to want to do good and he will forgive us when we do bad things.
  • Talk about it while reading Bible stories and the characters are making bad choices.
  • When someone else sins against them, remind them that everyone makes bad choices and only God is the one who is good to them all the time.

4. You Do Wrong Things

This is the other side of the truth that only God is good – your child does what is wrong. You will have plenty of opportunities to point out this truth that lays the foundation for the fact that your child is a sinner.

As your child continues to grow, they begin to develop a more acute awareness that they do wrong. That often, even when they want to do right, they do wrong. It is this understanding of their helplessness in sin that will ultimately make the sacrifice of Jesus so beautiful to them.

Here are some simple ways to introduce this concept:

  • Once again, talk about it during moments of discipline.
  • Pray to God, asking for help to do the things He wants you do to.
  • Let your child know that even mommy and daddy do bad things. I remember the first time I told my oldest this – he couldn’t believe it!
  • Eventually connect truths 3 and 4 by talking about how God who is only good cannot be with people who are sinful.

5. The Good News

Once you get to the point where your child understands the four previous truths, the reality of the gospel begins to come into focus. It all comes together.

God created this world, He is in charge of it, He gives it life.

God is always good, all the time.

Because we do wrong, we do things that are against God, we cannot be with an only good God. And life without God is not life at all – it is the punishment of death.

But, the God who created us loves us so much that He came to the earth as Jesus and died for us. He took our punishment of death.

Now, because Jesus died for that bad stuff we do, we can live forever with God. All we have to do is believe.

Keep On Evangelizing

This is not something that you try and sit down and explain to your two year old all in one conversation. No, it is something you weave into conversation over the days, months, and years.

Sometimes the conversations are just a word or two spoken by you, sometimes the deep conversations coming from the hearts of such a tiny little one will shock you.

Keep pressing on. Keep speaking this truth into your child’s life. Keep leading them to the way, the truth, and the life.

Keep planting seeds, trusting that the Master Gardener will bring about a harvest in His perfect time.

My little three year old didn’t fully understand what I was trying to explain to him that night. However, someday he will, and that will be a beautiful day indeed.

5 Step Bible Lesson for Kids (That Will Have Them Begging For More!)

Looking for a simple, but effective, Bible lesson for kids? Keep on reading!


After my son turned six, I knew I wanted to begin digging a little deeper in our Bible time.

He’s been through Play Through the Bible and read lots of stories from our storybook Bibles. We also read through the Tomie dePaola’s Book of Bible Stories, which was a great transition from Bible storybooks to the actual text. Now, it was time for him to begin studying from his real Bible!

We’ve been doing our Bible lessons for about four months now and they have been going great! They are ultra simple, but he is loving them and learning so much. Our lessons often end with him begging me to read more!

So, today I want to share with you how we are doing these lessons.

(I also made you a FREE bookmark to print out and stick in your Bible that has all the steps outlined on it to make it super easy to remember! CLICK HERE to download it!)

What’s The Goal?

Before I do most things, I like to step back and take a moment to figure out what the goal is behind what I am doing. In this instance, it is helpful to divide Bible reading into two categories: devotional reading and study.

Devotional reading would be more of a worshipful or meditative experience, while study is more of a lesson style, where the goal is to learn something. Obviously the two categories overlap! When we have our Breakfast + Bible time and we read from a Bible storybook and sing hymns or other songs – we are still learning. However, the main goal of our Bible lesson time is exactly that – to learn more about the Bible and about God.

And what exactly do I want him to learn? This is something that will be different for every child, due to their age and their previous experience with the Bible. For my son, my goal for him is to gain familiarity with the main narrative sections of the Bible. 

So, while we do stop and discuss the meaning of the text, the main goal is for him is to know the stories. This is similar to my goal for him back when he did Play Through the Bible , except now he is reading the stories directly from the Bible, instead of a storybook Bible.

And of course, even more than remembering certain stories or details, I want to fan the flame for a lifelong love of scripture. He might not remember the specifics of what we read two months ago, but if he maintains a love for God’s Word, then he is on the right track.

What Do You Need?

There are tons of great Bible study programs out there for kids (hey! I even wrote one!), but for this I wanted to keep it simple. I wanted my son to feel like he could go straight to God’s Word to learn, be changed, and be encouraged!

So, to do these lessons, literally all you need is a Bible. It has also been helpful for my son to keep a Bible journal, but that is optional (you can read more about how we keep the journal right here).

As to where to do your lessons, that’s up to you! I have found, for us, that snuggling up on the couch has been the best spot. However, you could do them anywhere (at the table, in the kitchen, in bed, on the go…).

Alright, we’ve covered the goals and what you need, ready to get started?

Five Step Bible Lesson for Kids

Step One – Review

The first thing we do when we sit down to our lesson time is review what we read previously. Sometimes I’ll ask him what he remembers and sometimes I’ll give a little review.

This not only helps your child remember better what is happening in the story, it also gets their mind set on the right track and prepares them to begin the lesson. It’s like a little “warm up.”

It doesn’t need to take a ton of time, just a 4-5 sentence recap.

Step Two – Prepare

Before you dive into the reading for the day, take just a few moments to prepare your child for what will be coming.

What will you need to prepare them for? It depends on the child!

Basically, you just want to give them a “heads up” of anything that might be helpful for them to know before reading the passage.

Some examples are: important names, the setting of the story, unfamiliar words, etc. Sometimes it helps to write these important words on a dry erase board sitting nearby (although it’s not necessary). Don’t go overboard with details, just a few helpful tidbits – it shouldn’t take more than a few minutes.

Step 3 – Read

Now it’s time to read your selected passage for the day! Here are five tips to help this go as smoothly as possible:

  1. Keep the selection short. I shoot for between 10-15 verses – that’s all! If it is hard to find a good stopping point I will occasionally go longer, however, my son has a pretty good attention span. If you are just starting out, or your child struggles with sitting and focusing for longer periods of time – try sticking to closer to 10 verses. You can even read less than that and slowly work your way up to more.
  2. Skip some stuff. Yes, everything in the Bible is important! However, not everything in the Bible is important or necessary for a six year old! Use your discretion when it comes to skipping portions – for now. If needed, give a quick summary of what you are skipping.
  3. Read with a little drama. The stories in the Bible are exciting – read them that way! Let the emotions of the story come out in the way you read. You don’t have to be the world’s best storyteller, but with practice you can be a pretty good one! 🙂
  4. Don’t repeat yourself. If your child wasn’t paying attention to the reading, try really hard to not re-read your selection. It feels a little backward at first, because you want them to hear it! However, when they know you are going to repeat it doesn’t encourage them to pay attention next time. If you are having problems with this, give your child a moment to focus, let them know you are only going to read once, and then stick to it. If they miss something, show disappointment with a “aw bummer, it was a really great part of the story too! Hopefully tomorrow you will pay attention and not miss anything!” This approach has done wonders for my son’s ability to pay attention – and his desire to do so!
  5. Leave them hanging. One of the other benefits of reading short selections is that, more often than not, you leave your child wanting MORE! When you stop right in the middle of the story of Jacob and Esau and put it away for tomorrow, there’s a good chance your child will be begging to read just a little more! And while it is hard to decline that request (and I don’t always!), try building up the excitement and saying “we’ll just have to wait and see!” Ending with them wanting more is an excellent way to fan that flame of a love for the Word.

Step 4 – Retell 

Up until now, your child’s main job has been to pay attention. But now, it’s time for a more active role. After finishing the reading, turn to your child and say to them “tell me what you remember.

Then, in their own words, your child retells the story to you. 

This act is so simple, but brings with it many benefits:

  • Increased memory of the reading (the act of saying it back helps cement it in your brain)
  • A greater desire to pay close attention next time (because they know they will have to say what they remember)
  • Communication of the parts of the story that are most important to them (as you see the things they choose to share)
  • Increased ability to process what they are reading (because their brain has to hold it and then spit it back out in a logical manner)

Now, just because it is simple – doesn’t mean it is easy. Unlike a worksheet with fill in the blanks or answering comprehension questions, your child’s brain is doing all the work of remembering and processing the information.

At first, your child’s retelling of the story might just be one sentence or they might only remember the very last thing you read – that’s okay! Resist the urge to add to their retelling or prompt them with questions.  In time, their retellings will improve.

Mix it up a little bit as well by having them retell the story to daddy, grandma, or the dog! Also, if you have multiple children doing the same lesson, have them take turns retelling.

Step 5 – Discuss

After your child has retold the story, take a few minutes to discuss together what you read. Now is the time to point out what you liked from the passage or ask a few questions. Don’t make it out to be a one sided lecture, but truly a discussion.

Some ideas of discussion questions you can use are:

  • How do you think *that person* felt when that happened?
  • How is God working in this story?
  • Why do you think *that person* did that? Were they trusting God?
  • How do you act like *the person from the story*?
  • What was your favorite part of the story?
  • What can you learn about God from this story?

Give it a try!

Whew! That’s it! Does it seem like a lot? I promise once you get the hang of the flow, these lessons become like second nature and only take about 10-15 minutes. You will be amazed at how well your child is able to dig into God’s Word!

If you give it a try, I’d love to hear how it goes for you!

If you’d like extra help in planning your Bible lesson for kids, everyone who is a Steadfast Family e-mail subscriber gets access to Foundation, a family Bible reading plan that goes through the main narrative portions of the Bible! I also include notes as to what portions you may want to skip or summarize. You can find more out about Foundation right here! 

Click the image below to download this free printable bookmark with all the steps outlined!

PS Lest you think I am too awesome 😉 – this method for studying the Bible did not originate with me! It is the Bible study used in the Charlotte Mason Method of Education (in fact, its a simple rendition of the method used for most all lessons) – but even if you aren’t a homeschooler or someone who uses this method of education – I still think you should give this Bible lesson method a try! 🙂

Three Tips for Helping Your Child Start a Bible Journal

Wondering how to start Bible journal with your child? Try these tips.

One of our biggest goals as parents is to find ways for our kids to own their faith. To dig into God’s Word and walk with him daily. To go to Him in prayer and praise. And to do these things because they themselves recognize their need for Him, not just because mom or dad told them to.

A great way to do this that I’ve found recently and been implementing with my oldest is keeping a Bible journal. It is such a simple, spiral bound sketchbook from the local box store, but it is really helping him to dig into God’s Word for himself.

If you have never done a Bible journal with your child, I want to share three tips that I’ve found helpful.

#1 Have Some Ideas Ready

Sometimes, staring a blank page can be overwhelming. Even the most experienced writer still has writers block, willing a useful thought to appear on the white page before them. Imagine how it must feel to someone totally new to journaling!

Having a list of ideas (on paper or just stored in the back of your mind) can be helpful to overcome this.

One of the main things my son uses his journal for is to document what he is learning in our Bible reading. This helps give him a starting point when he goes to fill a page. Sometimes he will need additional nudges and ideas, but he usually comes up with something he wants to draw or write that goes along with the story.

Another thing I will do is suggest certain things I think would be beneficial for his journal. I do this in a “here’s an idea” way, not in a “you must do this” way (see point number three). I have helped him create Abraham’s family tree and encouraged him to replicate a map to mark Abraham, Jacob, and Joseph’s journeys on – things he wouldn’t have thought of himself, but enjoyed and were beneficial for him to do.

#2 Be Ready to Lend a Hand

Especially if you are attempting this with a younger child, they may need you to sit with them, or be close by if they need help. Although he occasionally works in his journal completely independently (and that will be the goal eventually), right now he still needs support as he learns this skill.

The main way that your help will most likely be needed is in writing. Especially if you have a younger child (and especially if that child is a boy) them dictating their thoughts to you will most likely be more successful than them doing all the writing themselves.

While my son enjoys writing some, he does like when I do the writing if he has a lot of thoughts or the words are hard for him to spell. So if he asks, I gladly let him dictate to me while I write.

#3 Don’t Forget it is THEIR journal and an expression of THEM

Yes, have ideas. Yes, be ready to lend a hand. However, and perhaps most important, be willing to step out of the way.

If they have an idea, don’t interfere. If they don’t do things exactly like you’d like, don’t change it. If they are resistant to your ideas, don’t push it.

Let this be an expression of them. Their thoughts. Their way to connect with God and to what they are learning from the Bible.

Does your child have a Bible journal? I LOVE seeing kid’s journal pages. Share them with me by leaving a comment or visitor post on the Steadfast Family Facebook Page or by tagging @steadfastfamily on Instagram!

Journey with Jesus to the Cross: A Lenten Bible Reading Plan for the Family

**Note: scroll down to the end of this post to find out how to get the FREE printable reading plan and calendar!**

Have you ever wondered why we make a big to-do about the countdown leading up to Christmas, but Easter tends to get a major lack of fanfare?

Now, don’t get me wrong, I love a good Advent calendar. However, Easter Sunday is the cornerstone of our faith. Without the death and resurrection, the baby born in the manger is just another baby. Right?

This is why I LOVE Lent.

Although it is not as commonly celebrated among some denominations, the observation of Lent seems to be on the rise in recent years, which is awesome! While it is definitely not mandated to observe, Lent is a wonderfully beautiful way to spend the time leading up to Easter in reflection and anticipation.

But how do you incorporate a 40+ day holiday with kids?

When I was thinking through how I would like to introduce the season of Lent to my young children, I knew I wanted to do two things: first, make it about Jesus and second, keep it simple. 

If the goal of Lent is to direct your focus towards Jesus’ work on the cross, what a better way to do that than to follow Jesus on his own journey to the cross by reading his words each day?

40 days of meditating and reflecting on the wisdom, commands, rebukes, and comfort that Jesus spoke during his time on earth. 40 days of drawing closer to him through the reading, and the doing, of his words.

Now, if we were going to be successful at doing anything for 40+ days straight, it needed to be easy to follow and implement. I also wanted something that would give a visual to my kids of how many days we had left leading up to Easter. That is where the idea for a countdown calendar of some sort came from. Plus, each day has the verse already labeled on it, that way once you’re set up, you don’t have to do any more prep throughout the 40 days.

Setting up this devotional is easy!

First, print out the pages.

Then, cut out the pieces.

Finally, hang on the wall to create a path, placing the empty tomb at the end. Use the picture of Jesus to mark which piece of the path you are currently on.

The scriptures are listed in the general order of appearance in the Bible, but it doesn’t matter too much if a few get mixed around. Just try and start with the first one listed (Matthew 4:17) and use the pieces designated with the cross in the bottom right corner for Holy Week.

Since the 40 days of Lent do not include Sundays, there are five “Sunday pieces” with a large cross and “John 14:15” written underneath. Place these where the Sundays fall along your path and use them as a day to reflect back on what you read that week, brainstorming together ways you can actually live out the words Jesus spoke.


Excuse the mess! 🙂

Well, are you ready to get started?! You can get this printable for FREE as a Steadfast Family subscriber. Sign up below! 🙂

Still Feeling Burned Out After Your “Me Time”? Here’s Why.

“Self care”

“Me time”

“Fill your cup”

The world seems to practically scream at you these days: “Tired? Overwhelmed? Burnt out? You need to take time for yourself!” Self care is the catch all solution to practically all your ailments.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I love some good alone time (Hi, my name is Liz and I’m an introvert!). Even Jesus had alone time! However, here is the problem: Have you ever woken up from your nap or returned home from your “me time” at the coffee shop to find out something crazy?

Your life is still there! 

Seriously, I don’t know how many times I’ve been like, “okay, I just need a little down time and I’ll be good,” but then moments upon reentering normal life I am just as stressed out (or maybe more if the dishes magically piled up in my absence) as before!

What gives? I thought “filling my cup” was supposed to fix all these problems!

What is the answer?

A few weeks back I was listening to the sermon at church. I honestly don’t even remember what the general topic of the sermon was, because there was one illustration that totally rocked my world.

The pastor was talking about how we often view the power that comes from God like gas in a car. We “fill up our tanks” (through Bible reading, prayer, church attendance, etc) and then try to go about our days, using that “stored up” power. However, that’s not how it works. We don’t run on gasoline, we run on electricity. As long as our wires stay connected to the source, the power keeps flowing.

In John 15:5, Jesus says:

I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.

We can’t fill up at church on a Sunday morning, or even in our morning quiet time, and expect to run on that until we can “fill up” again. And we definitely can’t expect a monthly girls night, a nap on the weekend, or taking time to do our makeup in the morning to be able to give us the strength to face our days with love and patience.

It’s not that those things are bad (they can be very good!), they just don’t have that kind of power. Only one person does. 

Change your mindset

This simple revelation totally changed my mindset. Time with God is no longer another thing to do in my day, it is the lifeline that gets me through my day!

A good way to envision it is this…

Imagine you are swimming in the middle of a large body of water. The water is still, the skies are blue. You are enjoying yourself during your refreshing swim.

The wind starts to pick up a bit, but you are doing fine. However, time passes and the wind blows harder and clouds cover the blue sky. The waves start to roll, getting bigger and bigger.

It begins to rain.

The wind whips the rain into your eyes. The water below you is swirling all around. It is dark now and hard to see. The pleasant swimming you experienced before is only a memory. It is taking all your effort just to keep yourself afloat in this storm.

All of a sudden you look up. A boat has come near. Someone throws you a life preserver ring and it lands within your reach.

You turn to the source of the device and cry in despair: “Can’t you see I can barely stay afloat? How am I supposed to hold on to something while I am already so overwhelmed?!”

Ridiculous, isn’t it? Of course you wouldn’t say that. You would grab that thing for dear life and never let go. You would cling to it in the midst of the storm. 

I just can’t seem to make time

How many times have you said this in regards to spending time with Jesus? “I just can’t seem to make time.” How many times have I said it? We beat ourselves up for missing our quiet time, for skipping our Bible study because of the demands of life. Life swirls around us and we wonder, “when was the last time I prayed?”

Dear friends. God is not someone that we arrange a daily meeting with. To get our instruction and correction and then be sent out to face the world alone. No, God desires to be the life giving power throughout your day. Jesus is your vine. Your life preserver. Your rock.

In the words of the great hymn:

I need Thee, oh, I need Thee;
  Every hour I need Thee;
Oh, bless me now, my Savior!
    I come to Thee.

Stay connected to the vine

The truth is, when we are tired, weary, and overwhelmed, taking a nap, having some alone time, or even doing a Bible study is an easy answer. It is simple. It is a concrete action we can take. Clinging to Jesus is not. It takes practice to continually turn our minds to Him. It takes relying on the work of the Holy Spirit within us, instead of on something that we can do for ourselves. However, the power is in Jesus, not in our ability to make time for self care.

So cry out to Him..

…when the kids are going crazy.

…when the baby’s been up all night.

…when your marriage is going through a difficult time.

…when you are overwhelmed.

…when you aren’t sure what to do next.

Go to His Word. Not just to study like a textbook, but because it is the very life-breathing Words of God. 

Sing praises to him throughout the day.

Whisper a prayer or two or three during the moments that try you.

Come to Him again and again for forgiveness and a fresh start. He is not looking for someone who has perfect prayer and Bible study time, but someone who humbly goes to Him again and again for his mercy, grace, and strength.

So yes, take some time for yourself. Get that breather, enjoy your moment of peace. But when the trials of the day return, stay connected to the vine. Cling to the one who really has the power and the strength you so desperately need. 

That is something no amount of self care will ever give you.

 

5 Tips for a Successful Bible Time with Kids

I have a confession.

After completing the Play Through the Bible series I did a terrible job at having a consistent Bible time with my kids. We started and stopped, and started and stopped again. I had lofty goals and didn’t see them through. Most of the time I just plain didn’t know where to start.

Have you found yourself in this place too?

You know it’s important. The desire is there. But the days keep slipping through your fingers without these goals being met.

I’ve been there. In fact, I’m still there sometimes. However, over the past few months I feel like I’ve finally landed on something that works.

We haven’t been perfect, but we have consistently had a morning Bible time together, opening the doors for lots of great spiritual conversations.

Today, I want to share with you how we made it work.

#1 Find a time that works for you

Does it seem like everyone else in the world starts their days with the picturesque scene of kids delightfully learning about God’s world around the breakfast table, but at that hour of the day your brain feels more like your gray bowl of oatmeal?

Say adios morning Bible time. 

Seriously, let it go and be you. Maybe your family works better during a quiet hour when the baby is napping or in the evening when dad is home to lend a hand.

Set a time, embrace it, and then stick to it.

#2 Keep it simple

Like, ridiculously simple.

At least for me, it is so easy to fall into the trap of feeling like I can never make Bible time “enough.” Wiggly kids, lack of time, and unmet plans leave me feeling discouraged and I eventually give up.

I finally realized that something small is better than nothing at all. In fact, it’s actually quite freeing and opens the doors for continued, yet unplanned, conversation.

And I’m not talking about a “simple” lesson plan or a “simple” list of things to get out of the Bible time. Oh no. We started with one short Bible story at breakfast.

That’s. It. 

No lesson plans. No crafts. No memory verses, songs, or lengthy discussions.

We slowly got in the habit of daily starting our day with the Bible. We built our discipline muscle. The kids started to expect the story and look forward to it. We would miss a day or two and then quickly pick it back up again because we could feel it missing.

We stayed here for a long time. We didn’t read just one story for a week and declare it mastered, starting to add new elements. This one story was our home base and we stayed and made it nice and cozy until we were able to venture out and add more.

Your home base doesn’t have to be a Bible storybook. It could be a song you sing, a simple prayer, or a chapter from Psalms. Whatever feels like home for your family in the stage of life you are in currently.

#3 Slowly add more to your Bible time

After camping out in your home base for as long as it takes to build that habit (no rushing!), slowly add in other elements to your Bible time.

Don’t feel tempted to add in a bunch of things all at once now that you’re feeling confident in your new habit. Pride comes before the fall, yeah? Make a list of the things you would *someday* like to accomplish and pick one.

Introduce that one thing and give it time to become part of the routine. If, at any time or during any particular day, your new routine starts to feel overwhelming – go back to your home base. Do just that one thing and pick back up the new the next day or the next week.

I cannot emphasize enough to take it nice and slow with no pressure. We have been doing this for at least two months now and this is what our morning Bible time looks like (with a 5 and almost 2 year old):

  • Read Bible story and briefly discuss/answer 5 year old’s questions
  • Read a few pages from God’s Wisdom for Little Boys (awesome book by the way!)
  • About ten minutes of listening to and learning a hymn

That’s all. And if we don’t do it all, that’s okay. If we miss a day, we just pick right back up where we left off. Eventually I’d like to add more, but for now we will probably be hanging out here for quite a while.

Bonus tip: when you do get to the point of adding more, do them on a rotation, instead of trying to do everything every day.

#4 Roll with the punches

It’s easy to feel discouraged when things aren’t going how you expected.

There are going to be days when your kids are more interested in the squirrel out the window than the story you are reading or would rather run off and play than sing worship songs. Life will get crazy and you will skip a day here and even a week there.

Just keep going, keep coming back to it, keep building the habit. Hold your plans loosely and keep an eye toward the future.

Remember, Bible time is not the ultimate measure of your godly parenting ability. 

While it is definitely important to set a precedence for digging into God’s Word and going to him with prayer and worship, you have many more hours in the day. Hours where just walking along side your children through the daily tasks of life can speak more into their hearts and souls than you’d ever imagine.

One of my favorite parenting passages is Deuteronomy 6:5-9…

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. 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. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.

Let go of having the “perfect” moment and fill your home with the love of God and talk about him daily.

#5 Cover your goals in prayer

In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps.
-Proverbs 16:9

Don’t try and do this on your own strength. Go to God for his grace and wisdom. Spend time praying over your goals. Spend time praying for the spiritual maturity of your children.

Even with the simple steps we’ve discussed here, we will just be turning our wheels without God establishing our steps.

Take the next step

So, friend, if you found yourself knowing that having Bible time with your kids is important, but you just weren’t sure where to start, I hope you have a much clearer plan now!

If you are ready to take the next step and you could still use a little guidance – I’ve got you covered! I’ve created a FREE printable worksheet to help you plan out a Bible time that works for you.

Enter your information below to grab the free Bible Time with Kids Planning Worksheet AND gain access to the ever growing library of free printables!

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Not Teaching Your Kids the Old Testament? 8 Reasons to Start

 

Not Teaching Your Kids the Old Testament? Here's 8 Reasons to Start.

I always have to give one of my good friends a hard time about how when we started college she didn’t realize that the David of “David and Goliath” was the same person as King David. And she even grew up in the church! We like to joke about it, but it’s kind of a shame that this fundamental knowledge wasn’t passed down to her at an early age.

So often in children’s ministry settings (and even in the big church too!) the Old Testament stories are glossed over or even altogether skipped – presumably for the sake of focusing on the “gospel.”

You might be nodding your head here – Yes, yes, we should be focusing on the gospel. After all, we are under the new covenant now – why should be focus on the Old Testament?” Or maybe you began a study of the Old Testament with gusto until you got stuck somewhere in 1 Chronicles, thinking why am I doing this again?

Great questions! Today I want to share eight reasons why I think you should teach the Old Testament to your kids (and study it yourself!). And I’m talking about in it’s entirety, not just a few of the popular stories here and there – made fluffy and given a “moral at the end of the story” like it’s Aesop’s Fables instead of the Word of God (I’m looking at you Jonah!).

So, without further ado, when your kids learn about the Old Testament they will….

1. Gain a better understanding of the full scope of God’s character

The mighty hand of God that created everything from the vast universe to the invisible atom.

His loving-kindness delivering His people from Egypt.

His justice displayed in the words of the prophets.

Studying all the different stories, experiences, time periods, and people represented in the Old Testament give you so many windows through which to catch a glimpse of God’s character.

2. Understand the full story of our sin and God’s goodness

The gospel is powerful. It is rightly the center of our faith. However, we have to avoid the temptation to believe that the gospel story begins in Matthew. Yes, it begins with Jesus – but it begins with Jesus in Genesis 1:1.

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. -Genesis 1:1

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. -John 1:1-3

The story of God’s love and redemption through Christ is woven throughout the entire Old Testament. As we turn the pages of God’s story we find prophetic words, metaphorical foreshadowings, glimpses of His plan and purpose.

Through stories like Adam and Eve, Noah, and David we are brought down into the depths of the depravity and fallenness of humans. Only when we see ourselves in our place among the broken can we truly understand the magnitude of God’s love and mercy – and our need for His gospel offer.

Praying child.

3. Learn from a rich history of the saints and sinners before us

While I think that trying to tack on a neat moral to every Old Testament story does a disservice to the text, that doesn’t mean there is not a ton to learn in these pages. We learn of the characters strengths and successes and their sins and failures. We see God’s people love and obey Him, and also turn and forget Him.

One of the biggest lessons we see time and time again in the Old Testament is that God can and will use ordinary sinners just like me and you to take part in his big plans. We don’t have to be perfect to serve God, just trust Him and follow His commands.

4. Marvel at the perfectly planned lineage of Christ

To us, genealogies can often seem dry and boring. However, they too are an important part of God’s word.

Take, for instance, the genealogy of Christ found in Matthew 1. It would be easy to just skip on over it and get on to the story. However, have you ever stopped and looked at the names found in this passage?

Abraham (wife was barren) …

Rahab and Ruth (both non-Israelites) …

David (murderer and adulterer) …

… And the list goes on!

When we read of these people and their stories in the Old Testament we can see God’s faithfulness and plan in bringing his promised Messiah into the world.

5. Understand themselves in light of God’s story

Like I mentioned before, the Old Testament connects us with stories that mirror our own brokenness. We learn of our depravity in the story of Adam and Eve and see our same brokenness played out in the stories of God’s people time and time again. The Old Testament does not let us pass by without an understanding of our humanness, our dependance on God, and our lowly position before him.

However, in spite of our lowly position, the Old Testament also shows us how much we are loved and chosen by our creator. We see His plan to redeem His beloved people, no matter the cost. We see his love, patience, and mercy played out in the lives of ordinary humans. Ordinary humans that he allows to do great things for Him. Ordinary humans just like you and me … and your children.

8-reasons-to-teach-your-kids-the-old-testament

6. Be taught, rebuked, corrected and trained

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. -2 Timothy 3: 16-17

Timothy didn’t stutter when he said “all scripture.” In fact, during that time, the Old Testament probably would have been the primary scripture he was referring to! If you skip over the Old Testament as you seek to disciple your kids you are missing out on a huge chunk of what God has given to equip them.

7. Deepen faith through wrestling with tough topics

The flood, Abraham being asked to sacrifice his son, the story of the hardships of Job – these stories (and many others) aren’t Disney fairytales. The stories of the Old Testament are big, messy, and often hard to understand. When we wrestle with these stories, the concepts they hold and the questions they bring, we deepen our faith and understanding. This provides our children with a steadfast foundation that will stand the test of time.

8. Develop a deeper awe and reverence for God (and gratitude we can have a relationship with him)

Something that can often be missing in churches and Christians these days (including myself!) is a reverence, fear, and awe of a holy God. We get so focused on his love displayed through Christ that we can easily forget about his justice, power, and holiness.

Generally speaking, as they are set before the work and grace of Christ, the Old Testament stories give us a great picture of what it looks like to be in awe of a holy God. The creation account shows his strength, majesty, and sovereignty. The accounts of worship in the temple displays the lengths to which sinful people had to go to come anywhere close to God and his glory. Over and over again God’s chosen people and prophets declare themselves unworthy to stand before him.

These accounts do two things. First, they deepen our awe and reverence for God. Second, they make us all the more grateful for the relationship we can have with God because of the work of Christ.

Ready to get started?

Hopefully these eight reasons have encouraged you to give the Old Testament a chance. There are so many great reasons to dig in!

Plus, at the very least, you’ll know who King David is. 🙂

Do you have any more reasons you’ve found for studying the Old Testament?

EDITED TO ADD: I compiled a post with some great resources for teaching the Old Testament – find it right here!

Ready for an Old Testament Adventure?

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My Favorite Bible Study Tools: 5 Simple Things to Help You Dig into the Text

My Favorite Bible Study Tools_ 5 Simple Things to Help You Dig into the Text

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As Summer begins to come to a close and the new rhythms and routines of Fall come near, I am realizing that I have done a terrible job with personal Bible study over the last few months. So, as I prepare to get myself back in gear and (re)start some good habits, I want to share with you my favorite Bible study tools! They are nothing terribly groundbreaking, but they do a great job of helping you really dig into your Bible.

Here they are…

#1 A simple notebook

What kind doesn’t really matter. It could be a plain composition notebook, a journal, a sketchbook, or whatever. It just needs to provide a place to write down notes, prayers, verses and quotes, doodles, and whatever else you can think of jotting down.

#2 Colored pencils

I like using colored pencils over pens to write in my Bible or notebook because they are not quite as permanent. Plus, you don’t have to worry about the color bleeding through to the other side of your page. I just recently bought this Sargent set for my son as a step up from Crayola. They are really nice and I think I’m going to have to swipe them for my Bible study. 🙂

#3 Commentaries, word studies, Bible atlas, concordance, etc

While we do have quite a few commentaries and the like, I’m going to be honest, they don’t leave the shelf all too often. That is because my absolute favorite resource for studying the Bible is found in a super convenient place – online!

I love biblehub.com for pretty much anything you could need for studying the Bible. Commentaries, word studies, maps, concordance, different translations, devotionals – they have it all!

If you are looking to take your Bible study up a notch, I highly recommend giving this website a try.

#4 The Bible

Of course! Can’t have a Bible study without one of these important little books. 😉 For the longest time I used an NIV Bible until it was finally falling apart like crazy and I bought a new one. I had seen how popular Bible journaling was and I loved the journaling Bibles. So, I decided to buy an ESV Journaling Bible. I love it!

I’m definitely not one of those super amazing artistic Bible journalers, but I love having extra space for making little doodles or writing notes.

#5 A Bible Study Guide

Now, I definitely don’t think a devotional or Bible study guide is at all necessary to have a great personal Bible study. However, it can be helpful to have a plan and a little help as you dig into the text. Right now my personal favorite Bible study devotional is the “Journal and Doodle Through the Bible” series by Kari Denker. If you are looking for something new and fun that will also dig you deep into the text – look no further. Go grab her free Ephesians study right now! (I also reviewed Kari’s studies right here.)

Well, those are some of my favorite tools for studying the Bible. Are you getting ready to start a new study this fall? What are some of your favorite tools?

 

If I could go back and give advice to my newlywed self… (#1 of 4)

If I could go back and give advice to my newlywed self...

My little sister is getting married this Summer and it has got me thinking back to when I was preparing for my own wedding seven years ago. The excitement and the unknowns of it all. The first couple years of figuring out what marriage is all about.

The truth is, we’re still figuring out what this thing called marriage is all about, but if I could go back in time and share with my young(er) self my advice after seven years of marriage, I think I’d tell myself four main things.

Today, I’d like to share the first thing…

#1He will mess up - forgive and love him anyway

#1 He will mess up – forgive and love him anyway

Have you ever heard this quote?

“A happy marriage is the union of two good forgivers.”
― Robert Quillen

It’s true. Really true. You may think you’ve gotten to experience what it means to have to forgive your husband-to-be, but you’ve only just begun sweetheart.

You know the common saying, “nobody’s perfect”? Well, I’m going to tell you right now – that’s the understatement of the year.

Yes, no one is perfect. However, the truth is, it’s more than just not being “perfect”. We are all fallen sinners. We bring to our marriages baggage from the past, mixed motivations, sinful attitudes, and selfish actions.

Your husband is going to hurt your feelings. He is going to frustrate you. He is going to make stupid mistakes.

You think you realize this, but the truth is you won’t really see how your husband’s sin affects your life until you are in the daily trenches of doing life together as a married couple. 

Just like you have your own sin habits and struggles that you may never fully shake this side of heaven, your husband will too.

When you remind him for the 100th time to please stop doing that thing you hate, and when he comes to you apologizing once again for that thing that’s much more serious, your response must be one of love and forgiveness.

 

Responding with Love and Forgiveness

Why must you respond with forgiveness? Well, the first and most important reason is because God first forgave you. 

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. – Ephesians 4:32

Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. – Colossians 3:13

In Matthew 18:21-35 Jesus tells the parable of the unforgiving servant. In this parable a servant owed a great debt to the king and was to be sold into slavery because he could not pay his debt. He begged the king to have patience and give him time to pay back this debt.

The king had mercy on the servant and forgave his debt, setting him free. 

However, when the servant left, he found another servant who owed him just a small amount and, when he could not pay, the servant had him thrown in prison.

When the king found out he was not too happy. This is how the parable closes…

Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.

“This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”
-Matthew 18:32-35

Yikes.

Bottom line – when you think of how much God has forgiven you, it makes it a lot easier to keep on forgiving your husband.

Forgiveness keeps you humble

Speaking of the sin you have been forgiven of, having to remember this and forgive your husband is going to keep you a lot more humble.

It’ll be really easy to forget about your own sin when you see your husband’s. You don’t want to go down that path.

Forgiving your husband will help to guard you against becoming like the Pharisee who prayed while pointing a finger at the “sinner” and exalting himself.

The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector.
Luke 18:11

If I could go back and give advice to my newlywed self...

Forgiveness brings freedom

“To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.” – Lewis B. Smedes

When you hold onto your anger and your grudges instead of letting them go in forgiveness, it’s like locking yourself in jail.

When you forgive it brings freedom.

Freedom to love without wondering if he “deserves it.” Freedom to have fun and be joyful instead of being stuck with a hard heart. It gives you freedom to learn and grow alongside your spouse, moving closer together instead of farther apart.

When Jesus said that in this world we would have troubles (John 16:33), our marriages were not immune from that. However, you need to learn early on that these problems don’t have to take the wheel of your marriage.

Yes, address the problems and the sin. Yes, attack them together. Then, put those problems on the back burner and be free to love each other again – lack of perfection and all.

What advice would you give to your newlywed self?

If I Could Give Advice To My Newlywed Self

4 Reasons Why You Should Memorize Bible Verses Along With Your Kids

4 Reasons Why You Should Memorize Bible Verses Along With Your Kids

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Memorizing Scripture is a common Bible activity for children. Whether it’s through programs like Awana, by using Bible verses set to music, or even one of the lesson plans here on Steadfast Family – there are lots of recommendations and resources for Scripture memorization.

Once you’re a grown up, however, you don’t hear it talked about quite as much.

So, today I want to share four reasons I think we should jump in there and memorize right along with our kiddos!

1. To Be a Good Example

Kids are natural imitators. Monkey see, monkey do. Unfortunately you often realize this after they’ve imitated something you’d really rather them not. AmIright?  🙂

What better way to harness that imitator nature than by leading them to the power of God’s Word? 

I hope my boys have strong memories of their mama saying, singing, chanting, shouting, and whispering their memory verses right alongside them. And not only that, but also being able to recall scripture during the moments we need it. Which brings me to my next point…

2. To Be Able to Recall During Daily Moments

One of my favorite benefits of knowing and memorizing Scripture is the way the Holy Spirit will bring to mind these verses that you have hidden in your heart.

This is not only helpful when fielding spiritual questions from my very inquisitive four year old, but is a constant source of encouragement for me personally as well.

Just today I was pondering how badly I need more contentment in my life and I was thinking to myself “I sure do wish I could ask Paul how in the world he found contentment when he was stuck in prison!” Immediately the answer popped into my head:

For I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. -Philippians 4:13

3. To Exercise Our Brains

I’m not gonna lie, more days than not you will find me in the fog known as “mom brain.” With everything I have to do and keep track of, plus the constant demands of caring for small children by the end of the day my brain is mush.

Doing brain work such as memorization is like exercise for the brain. It keeps things sharp and working smoothly. I don’t know about you, but I can definitely benefit from my brain being in tip top shape.

Want to read more about the brain benefits of memorization? Check out this article on Ten Proven Brain Benefits.

4. To Meditate on God’s Word

I love studying the Bible. I love learning about historical context, original languages, and the layers of meaning. I enjoy taking notes, reading commentaries, and listening to teaching.

However, I’m also learning that sometimes I need to put away the study Bible, and just meditate on God’s Word.

Read it just to know it. Just to let the truth sink in. To get lost in the wonder and grace of it all.

Memorizing scripture provides plenty of opportunity for just that.

4 Reasons Why You Should Memorize Bible Verses Along With Your Kids-2

These are just a few reasons why memorizing scripture alongside your children is a beneficial practice. I’m sure there are many more!

What benefits can you add to this list?

 

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