This transcript has been edited for clarity.
Heidi Franz Host 00:00
Melanie, in the last two podcasts we’ve been talking about children in the Bible. The first podcast was about choosing a children’s Bible that’s appropriate for the child’s age, and then last time was about teaching children to read the Bible on their own. Today, what we’re going to be talking about is how to help our children apply the truths of the Scripture. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says, “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.” Melanie, that’s my prayer. I want my children to be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
Let’s dive into this subject. Welcome back to Parenting to Impress. Your go-to podcast, to learn practical ways to love God and love others and impress this on the hearts of your children. I am your host, Heidi Franz, and I am joined by my dear friend, Melanie Simpson. Two moms who have made a lot of mistakes but have found grace and truth along the way.
Melanie Simpson Co-host 01:02
In this episode, we want to really get a clear picture of how we help our children take God’s word and move from just the things that they’re reading and the things that they’re learning to. What does this mean, then, about my life? What does it matter to me?
Heidi Franz Host 01:21
The application of the Bible stories. In the preschool age, we learn what the Bible is. We learn that the Bible is true. We learn that the Bible is God’s word to us. We learn that the Bible was written by men who were inspired by the Holy Spirit, that these stories actually happened. Those are my goals during in the preschool years. We call it the foundational years for academics. I call it the foundational years for Bible as well.
Melanie Simpson Co-host 01:56
Yeah, it’s important at this point that we are continually reminding our kids that God is so good and he loves them so much and that all of these things that we’re reading about they tell us more about who he is, His character, His attributes, and then we get to see how God’s good for us comes out of that too, that when we are having a really hard time and we’re being really, really mean to our sibling, God has a better way. Let’s talk about God’s better way. We’re not brow-beating them with sin and gloom and doom, but we use the words. We talk about sin, but ultimately it’s with the purpose of God having a better way.
Heidi Franz Host 02:37
During the foundational years, we’re introducing the biblical words, the gospel, the good news, sin, disobedience, grace, and mercy. One of the things that I see the pendulum has swung so far is that we have turned the Bible into an “if-then” for preschoolers. If Jesus was kind to other people, then I need to be kind to other people. If Jonah disobeyed and bad things happen, then if I disobey, bad things will happen, and I think this is a very dangerous to turn the Bible into this moral if then book.
Melanie Simpson Co-host 03:21
Yeah, because you remove the heart, the heart motive, which that, ultimately, is what God cares about. You know what’s behind your actions. Now I don’t want to speak unkindly because I don’t think that the motive behind some curricula is wrong. But I think they have taken it, like you said, and oversimplified it in an effort to make it applicable. For a preschooler or a young child, they have kind of overstepped.
Heidi Franz Host 03:46
What has occurred is we’ve taken the Bible and made it a morality book. Now I do feel that during these foundational years, with these facts that we’re teaching, we need to take these facts and make them applicable to the world around them. For example, you’ve been talking about Noah and the rainbow. When you see that rainbow, talk about Noah’s Ark and make that connection between those two. If the child is having a meltdown because he can’t pick up his clothes and by can’t you mean won’t exactly. We talked about Colossians 3 23 that we work at it with all our heart as working for the Lord, so we’re helping the children see the Bible on a personal level, that connection. We’re not starting on the application as much.
Melanie Simpson Co-host 04:38
Right, and that’s just the first layer, because if we don’t start then with that first step, the disconnect between this ancient text and me, that’s the first thread that gets tugged, and so we have to continually seek to remind our kids that no, just because this was written a really long time ago doesn’t mean that it doesn’t count for my life now. Absolutely. So how do we then transition from preschool into the elementary years, Heidi?
Heidi Franz Host 05:08
So in elementary years, that’s where the application is starting to come. I want children to start looking at not just the facts, but the “why” and “how.” After we read a Bible story, we’re going to be discussing what did the different people in these stories do? Why did they do this? Do you think it was a good choice? Do you think it was a bad choice? What happened with their choices? How did God respond to those choices?
Melanie Simpson Co-host 05:37
I love what you said, Heidi, about asking questions and taking it to the next level. If your kid gives a “wrong answer” ask, “Why do you think that?” Or, “Why would you do that?” Sometimes letting it go, letting the kid marinate in it for a little bit, you’d be surprised. Then the next time it comes up, say, “Hey, remember the last time we read this and you said this? Do you still think that?” See what the Holy Spirit is doing in their lives.
Heidi Franz Host 06:04
If a child says the wrong answer when it’s a foundational question, we want to point them back to the truth. But a lot of times if we’ll take that time to figure out why they responded, then we can help with the confusion of the situation.
Melanie Simpson Co-host 06:23
Proverbs 22:17 says, “Pay attention and turn your ear to the sayings of the wise, apply your heart to what I teach.” When we consider that scripture is meant to be something we enter into, and we work with. It’s not passive. I think the elementary years are when we begin to pass that baton. You actually have to show up, you have to do a little work here. This isn’t just me reading it to you anymore, because this is where you begin to incorporate God’s Word into how you live your life, which is the application part. It’s just important that they know that it’s not just me saying this. God says this.
Heidi Franz Host 07:04
Exactly, very good point. The teen years is where I have seen the Bible stories really come to fruition. This is where the kids are living out what they have heard for so many years. One of my favorite questions to ask my kids is what Bible story will apply to this situation you’re in, because it’s very hard sometimes to take, as Melanie has said, this ancient text and see how it applies to 21st century activities. The Bible doesn’t talk about cell phones. The Bible doesn’t talk about texting, the Bible doesn’t talk about cars, but yet how does what the Bible talk about apply to texting and cell phones and cars and going out with friends and etc. Right?
Melanie Simpson Co-host 08:04
Proverbs 23:12, “Apply your heart to instruction and your ears to words of knowledge.” God is concerned about our hearts. He’s concerned about our heart motive. Why do we do the things we do? And, as a believer, are you offering your heart motive, your brain, your intellect to the Lord to be transformed? Yes, God doesn’t explicitly speak to my sending and inappropriate text to a girl.
Heidi Franz Host 08:31
But God does talk about lust, and these are conversations that we can have with our kids, helping them understand the application for them today, taking those stories and making them relevant.
Melanie Simpson Co-host 08:44
This is a great time also to model that when we know that God speaks about a topic in His Word, but for the life of me, I cannot come up with the information. I’m going to sit down, get out my Blue Letter Bible app, plug in the word “greed” to see what God has to say about the topic. This shows my kids that I have read the Bible 100 times over but I don’t remember everything that it says and it’s okay.
Heidi Franz Host 09:15
And verses mean different things to you in different seasons of life, and that’s the power of the Word and so helping kids. Look at even John 3:16, the verse that many kids memorized early in their childhood. How does that apply when they’re 10, 15, 20 and into adulthood.
Melanie Simpson Co-host 09:37
Yeah, so I think what really we’re saying here is it is, as always, step by step by step. You are, at the very beginning, spending a lot of time in the word, talking about God, helping them see how God applies to their lives, but then you pass the baton and now I’m asking you to think what does this mean to me without mom involved? What is God saying to you directly? And then it just keep extricating yourself from that equation so that finally, by the time they’re in their teen years, they are sitting with their Bibles still asking questions. There’s nothing. We all have questions, but ultimately that they are going to God’s word first, before they come to me.
Heidi Franz Host 10:26
Yeah, one of the things that I have been working on with my teens as they leave the nest is not thinking for them. Thought about the process that I go through to make decisions and then walking them through that process as well. So, in my mind I’m automatically going what does the Bible say? What is scripture or a Bible story that’s going to point this topic out? How does this apply to this situation? And so I’m going through the questions in my mind that I would go through to answer and lead them through that.
Melanie Simpson Co-host 11:06
Yeah, I love that. How do you have blog posts asking your kids? What do you think you can lead with that? What does God think about this? If you don’t know, let’s figure it out together and then, now that you know what God says, what do you think you should do with that information?
Heidi Franz Host 11:21
Yeah, we’ll post the link to that in the show notes.
Melanie Simpson Co-host 11:24
Heidi, this has been a fun conversation. As you and I just get to sit here and process how we helped our kids learn how to apply scripture, I would love for you to pray us out, offering hope and encouragement for those who are listening as they begin, maybe for the first time, laying the foundational layer to help their own kids apply scripture.
Heidi Franz Host 11:43
Dear God, I just thank you for this opportunity to just share that you are a good father, that you help us, that you do not leave us alone in this parenting journey. God I pray that the Holy Spirit would just bring to mind some of these tips as we go about our parenting walk. God I pray that we would have a deep desire to impress loving you and loving others on our children. God I pray that our children’s hearts would be open to what you have to teach them and that we would just be able to walk the walk by example of going to your word and seeing it as the ultimate source for all wisdom, for all understanding. God, we love you and we welcome you into our homes in Jesus’ name Amen.
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