Memorizing Scripture as a Family

We know the only way to recognize lies is to know what the truth really is.  And the best way to really know the truth is to have it memorized!  Memorizing scripture helps us to really know and understand God’s Word.  I’ve also noticed how the Holy Spirit brings these memorized scriptures to mind when I need them.

Scripture memory is a great spiritual discipline to work on together as a family.  When children see their parents doing something regularly, they realize its true importance.  We close our family devotions each day by working on our scripture memory verses together.  Here is how we easily memorize scripture together:

Memorizing Scripture as a Family
Photo by MD Duran on Unsplash

Take Your Time

First, slow down and take your time.  We want scripture memory to be an enjoyable memory for our kids.  We want them to look back on it with thankfulness, not will feelings of stress and pressure.  It works well for us to aim to memorize one verse each week.  Some weeks this works great and sometimes we need to spend two or three weeks on one verse.  No stress, no pressure just aim for a consistent routine!  We are currently working on memorizing Psalm 103; we’re on verse 20 and have been at it for about 25 weeks!

Repeat, Repeat, Repeat

Children (and adults) learn through repetition.  Have you ever had a 2-year-old “read” his favorite storybook to you?  He easily has it memorized through repetition, and I bet you have it memorized too!  By hearing something many times over, we begin to recognize it and know what comes next without even really thinking about it.  Begin by reading the scripture passage aloud a few times and for a day or two.

Once we’ve heard the passage enough to be familiar with it, we can begin to say the passage along with whoever is reading it.  Adding our voice to the repetition adds another learning style (hearing and speaking), this will help us to memorize it better.

Invent Actions

Once the passage is familiar, it can help to invent actions to go along with some of the words.  Let your kids help you invent actions for the scripture passage.  Sometimes their actions will be silly, but it doesn’t really matter as long as the actions help them to remember the verses!

By adding actions to your memory verse, you are also adding a third learning style (action/movement).  Often if your kids are struggling to remember what comes next in the passage you can prompt them with the next action and they will remember!

Sing

Finally, we like to add music to help us memorize scripture.  We often listen to various scripture memory CD’s while in the car.  Sometimes these songs are passages we are currently working on or have memorized in the past and sometimes they are not.  We don’t focus on memorizing these songs, but it seems to happen anyway!

I remember listening to my middle child sing along with all the songs from Steve Green’s Hide ‘Em in Your Heart at barely 2 years old!  We also like the Sing the Word series by the Harrow Family.  These are musically excellent and are done with more “traditional” music styles.  There are several other series of scripture memory CD’s and some are better done than others.  If possible, listen to some samples so you know if the musical style and quality is what you like/want.

Choose whole passages

I’d like to encourage you to learn whole passages of scripture not just specific verses.  By memorizing passages you are learning scripture in the context which leads to more full and accurate understanding.  You will be amazed at how many verses even young children can memorize easily when part of a passage.  When our youngest was barely 3 years old she memorized all of Psalm 1 with her older siblings!

We’ve memorized Psalm 1, Ephesians 2:1-10, Psalm 24, Psalm 19, Deuteronomy 6:4-8.

Comment below with some of your favorite scripture passages.

 

Giving Your Kids a Heart for Missions

I want my kids to know they are not the center of the universe.  I want them to have a knowledge of other peoples and cultures and to desire them to come to a saving knowledge of Jesus.  Giving my kids a heart for missions (locally and globally) is a priority in our home.

Here are some things we do to encourage a heart for missions and other cultures:

Read Books about other Cultures

One reason I choose to use Sonlight for our homeschool curriculum is the wide variety of cultural diversity in the books it has us read.  Some of our favorites are:

Thrift Books is a great place to order books (new and used).  Their free shipping minimum is low and you earn reward points with each purchase.  Use this link for 15% off your first order.  (affiliate link, thank you!)

Help your kids develop a heart for missions and other cultures.

Read Books and Listen to Stories about Missionaries

We have greatly enjoyed reading books about missionaries.  The series Christian Heroes Then and Now is excellent!  Engaging stories and appropriate for elementary aged children and older.  The Hidden Heroes series is also similar.

The book Missionary Stories with the Millers is a great introduction to missions for children because each chapter is about a different missionary in a different time and place.  This one is fun for all ages.

Torchlighters Heros of Faith DVD series includes some missionary stories.  The Gladys Aylward Story and The Amy Carmichael Story are two we’ve enjoyed.  FYI: Some of these stories are a bit graphic and I would recommend for ages 10 and older.  Please preview these before sharing them with your children.   

We’ve also enjoyed listening to the Brinkmann Family Adventures audio dramas.

Help your kids develop a heart for missions and other cultures.

Listen to Missionaries Talk about their Lives and Ministries

We are blessed to have a church that welcomes and supports missionaries.  Our children often have the opportunity to here missionaries share their lives and ministries.  We also support missionaries through our church and as a family.

Make it a priority to have your children listen to and interact with missionaries who visit your church.

Help your kids develop a heart for missions and other cultures.

Give Children Opportunites to Interact with Other Cultures.

This can be as simple as dining in an authentic Mexican, Chinese, Thai, etc. restaurant or as complex as traveling to another country!

Short-term mission trips are excellent experiences for high school and college-aged students.  I was blessed to travel to Venezuela once and China twice during my high school and college years.  Our church has taken groups to serve on Indian reservations and inner-city minority neighborhoods.  These are life-changing experiences that broaden our worldview.

Serve Others in Your Community

A great way to broaden the worldview of your children is to serve others in your community together as a family.  Whether to people of the same ethnic background as your family or a different background, serving others causes us to see them as individuals with individual stories.  It also teaches our children that it is important to serve others.  We help out at a local non-profit thrift store.  We help with sorting donations, pricing, and stocking.  The kids and I help out for a couple hours a couple times a month.

Memorize Scripture

Finally, memorizing scripture about God’s love for the world is a great way to give your kids a heart for missions.  Verses like Matthew 28:18-20 and Romans 10:13-17 emphasize our responsibility to tell others, in our communities and around the world.

Were you exposed to other cultures as a child?  What other ways do you help your children have a global worldview?

Defining Theological Words for Kids

When we choose to study theology, we expect to come across words we don’t know.  This can be hard enough for us as adults, but how do we explain these “big” theological words to our children?  We have a couple options available to us:

Try a Different Translation

As an example, let’s take Romans 3:21-25:

 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. Romans 3:1-25, ESV

Oh, my!  There are quite a lot of words in that passage that will need to be defined for children (and adults!).  Let’s see if using another translation helps:

But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22 This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. 25 God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished. Romans 3:21-25, NIV

OK, so that doesn’t really help anything.  The English Standard Version and the New International Version are very common translations used in many churches and bible studies.  Let’s try the translation I like to use when reading bible stories to kids:

But now God has shown us a way to be made right with him without keeping the requirements of the law, as was promised in the writings of Moses and the prophets long ago. 22 We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are. 23 For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.24 Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins.25 For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood. This sacrifice shows that God was being fair when he held back and did not punish those who sinned in times past. Romans 3:21-25, NLT

Well, that helps a bit more, but it’s not the best option.  Our children need to recognize and understand the big theological words.  These words are part of the history of our faith and they have been chosen for a specific reason.  There is deep and complex meaning being summed up in each big theological word.  Our children need to recognize and understand these big words and I firmly believe the CAN understand them!

Define Big Theological Words with Concrete Examples

The best way to help our kids understand theology is to explain these big theological words to them using concrete examples when possible.  By the time our children reach first grade they should be familiar with hearing some of these big words and with Bible stories in general. (This is why family devotions are so important!)

Today, I want to give you examples of defining three theological words: redemption/redeemed, justify/justification and propitiation.

Defining theological words for kids.
Redeem means to buy back.

Redemption/Redeemed

To redeem something means to gain or regain possession of something in exchange for payment.  In a more simple phrase: redeem means to buy back.

The picture of redemption in scripture is redemption from slavery.  Our freedom is bought back (redeemed) for us: mankind was created free from sin in the beginning, but chose to disobey God and become slaves to sin and under the penalty of sin (Romans 6:23).  Christ, through His death (and resurrection), paid the price to redeem us from slavery to sin.

Justify, the picture of a balanced scale.
Justify means to balance the scale; to make the scale “right.”

Justify/Justification (Bonus: Imputed Righteousness)

Justify is a legal term meaning to prove right or to be made right.  We see a picture of justification when we look at a balance scale.  The scale is justified when both sides are equal and balanced.

Often in Christianity justified is defined as declared righteous.  We are declared righteous (justified) because the scale has been made level.  God’s righteousness on one side of the scale is so “heavy” that no amount of our good works can bring the scale to balance.  We need the perfect righteousness of Christ on our side of the scale in order for the scale to balance.  When we trust Christ for our salvation, His righteousness is put on our side of the scale (imputed righteousness).

We are justified (declared righteous) because the scale has been made right (balanced) by Christ’s righteousness being put on our side of the scale (in-putted righteousness = imputed righteousness).

Defining theological words for kids.
Propitiation: Atoning Sacrifice

Propitiation (Bonus: Atonement)

Propitiation is a good example of why these big theological words are so important:  the meaning of propitiation is so complex that there is no other single word to conveys its complex meaning.

In propitiation, the wrath of God is satisfied.  God’s wrath is satisfied by the sacrificial death of Jesus.  Jesus dies in our place (sacrifices His life) and takes our punishment (God’s wrath and eternal death and separation from God).  This act redeems (buys back) our life and brings us back into right relationship with God (reconciliation).

Many people define propitiation as an atoning sacrifice.  Atonement can be explained by dividing the word: at-one-ment. Through the death and resurrection of Christ (sacrifice), we now become at-one with God; the relationship has been mended!

Conclusion

Thanks for sticking with me through this long post!  I hope this helps you to see the importance of defining (and using) these “big” theological words with our kids.

Please comment with any questions or any concrete examples you have heard that help you understand these great words.

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