Recently I had the opportunity to make a brief "milk run" all by myself. Since I was without a vehicle full of little people, I was delighted to realize I could listen to "grown-up" material on the radio. When a quick run through the stations yielded nothing better than some incomprehensible screaming, obscene hip-hop, and "I Love Rock-n-Roll" on the '80's station, I settled for a talk program on the Christian station.
I'm not sure what the program was, because I live relatively close to the grocery store, but what they were discussing was family devotions. The moderator was saying that many dads want to have family devotions, but are put off because they believe they lack Bible knowledge. Also, they may be under the false assumption that devotions require a "curriculum" and lesson plans (home school syndrome--everything requires a curriculum now).
I want to share how Bible time came about in my home. We were like the example on the radio. Our own lack of Bible knowledge kept us from having any family devotions for years. I, like many home school moms, thought you had to have a book to follow. My husband...well, I don't know what he thought. Perhaps I should ask.
(He says he never really thought of it until he heard a sermon by Brother Denny Kenaston from Charity Gospel Ministries.)
Anyway, when my husband returned from Korea, and after he began studying for his master's degree in ministry, he decided it was time to have family devotions. So he sat all the children (and me!) down one evening and explained how we know the Bible is true (scribes and the Dead Sea Scrolls and such) and then opened it to Matthew chapter 1 and started reading. He and I took turns reading every night after that until we finished the New Testament. Then we celebrated with a dinner out when we finished Revelation. We started the Old Testament next. When we finished that, we celebrated again, because we had read the WHOLE Bible. The next time through the New Testament, the children took turns reading. The next time through the Old Testament, we listened to someone else reading it on MP3 and followed along in our own Bibles. It is never a complicated affair. Just reading for a set amount of time or Scripture, answering questions as they arise (and looking up the answers if we have to), and just talking about what we read. Very casual.
A few of our guidelines for Bible Time:
- Have a set time for Bible Time and stick to it. Ours is 8:oo every night. This is so set that our good friends will not call or interrupt it.
- Everyone needs to be present and "church behavior" is required.
- Look up answers to questions we don't know, and be honest about it.
- All questions need an answer (In our house, a harlot is an immodest women who takes money to act like a man's wife for a little while. They know there is hugging and kissing involved as well and this is not right).
- Everyone who can read has a Bible of their own and may follow along.
- Bible is not a school subject. It is what we do whether we have school or not. Bible study is a lifelong affair. It does not end when we graduate.
- After getting comfortable with the readings, we added memory verses, family prayer time, and sword drills (call out a verse and see who can find it first).
Some resources for Bible Time:
- If you want a free MP3 of someone else reading so you don't have to, one can be ordered through Charity Gospel Tape Ministry. I highly recommend their other messages as well, especially the Godly Home series.
- Firefighters for Christ also has one available, as well as many other good Bible resources.
- Free Bible study software is at e-sword. You can download many Bible versions, commentaries, classic Christian books, and other tools all for free!
- If you want worksheets and/or coloring pages to go along with your readings, try Calvary Chapel Children's Ministry. Old and New Testament are both available.