Teaching Children to Hear God (Part 3)

Jesus Loves Children via PhotoBucketTalking often with your children about the various ways God speaks will help them discover how they are already hearing Him. It will also make them aware of new ways He might speak to them.

Last time I briefly shared several ways God speaks to us through His Word, the inner voice, pictures (visions), and impressions. Let’s look at a few more avenues of hearing Him:

Dreams — Everybody dreams. Scientists believe dreams help cleanse our minds and emotions of the junk of the day, and this is probably true. But throughout the Bible, God often spoke to people through dreams, and He still does today. If you and your children remember your dreams, there’s a high likelihood that this is an avenue through which God desires to talk with you.

Dreams are a vast topic, which we can’t tackle here. However, if you want to explore how God might be communicating with you through them, I have written an extensive article series on dreams  at my other blog, Out of the Fire. It’s free, and I think you will enjoy what you learn there.

Encourage your children to tell you about their dreams. Take the time to talk them through. Mention that God might be trying to speak to them through their dreams and suggest, “Let’s ask God to show us what your dream means.”

Checks and nudges — A “check” in your spirit is that little uneasy feeling you get inside when you are about to say or do something that you shouldn’t. A check is planted in you by the Holy Spirit to help you avoid sin or an unwise decision. Most of us tend to rationalize these away, thinking they are silly — and then we end up wishing we had acted differently.

A nudge is the positive side of a check. It is the Spirit prompting us to do or speak something which will further God’s plan for us. Following a nudge can take us from a place of danger into a place of safety. God also uses them to lead us into opportunities and connections with people which will benefit us or them.

Checks and nudges are one of the most common ways the Lord speaks, but they are subtle, like a soft whisper. The more we learn to pay attention and act upon them, the more sensitive we become to His leading, thereby coming into the greatest amount of blessing.

Peace or the lack of it — Very similar to checks and nudges, the Lord guides us by the absence or presence of His peace. Colossians 3:15 instructs us, “Let the peace of God rule in your hearts ….” Again, this is a very subtle way of hearing the Lord, but it is one that all of us can tap into.

Christian songs — How often have you been focused on something else while Christian music was playing in the background, and suddenly a line from a song gripped your attention? Perhaps it reassured you, reminded you of God’s goodness, or convicted you of something you needed to get right with the Lord. God often uses Christian music to speak to His children. It is just as valid an avenue to hear from Him as any other means.

Sermons and Christian teaching — We hear both God’s general message and also personal tidbits meant just for us. The Holy Spirit emphasizes a word, phrase, or point to witness to our heart something which He wants to talk to us about. What one person takes away from a sermon may be quite different from what speaks to another person, because each of us has unique needs in any given moment.

Pastoral counsel and correction — We all need this, and we can expect God to speak to us through our pastors on a personal level. For children, parents fill a pastoral role of speaking into their lives on God’s behalf.

Other people — Someone says something which the Holy Spirit drills home to us. We can’t shake it. It might be a word of encouragement or a direction we should take. It might be a testimony of something good the Lord did for them, which in turn gives us hope that God will do great things for us, too! Often, the person has no idea that he is being used by the Lord to speak to us. God can even use non-believers to get His message across to us.

Inspired ideas — As we grow deeper in our relationship with the Lord, He plants inspired ideas within us on a regular basis. They are often so subtle that they seem to be part of our normal thinking patterns, rather than coming across distinctly as His voice. Romans 12:2 talks of the “renewed mind” we are to enjoy as believers. 1 Corinthians 2:16 says “we have the mind of Christ.” The flow of inspired, creative thoughts within us is a normal way to hear from God.

By now, you might be pleasantly surprised by how much you have already been hearing from the Lord. Encourage your children to look for Him to speak to them in these ways, too. The list I have given is not exhaustive. If you’d like to share other ways you have experienced God’s voice, please feel free to comment on this post. I’d love to hear from you!

Next time we’ll talk a little more about practical steps you can take to help your children become increasingly sensitive to the Lord’s voice.

Previous: Teaching Children to Hear God (Part 2) 

Hotline to Heaven: Hearing the Voice of God

Hotline to Heaven: Hearing the Voice of God

The Homeschool Guide to Raising Prayer-Filled Kids

The Homeschool Guide to Raising Prayer-Filled Kids



Teaching Children to Hear God (Part 2)

Jesus Loves Children, via PhotoBucketIn the last post, we talked about practical things you can do to prep your children to hear God personally. Today, we will examine some of the ways God speaks. Taking time to explain to your children the variety of ways in which God speaks will help them to recognize His voice.

Through the Bible — This is absolutely the first and foremost way we must hear God speak to us. Every other way we hear from Him is subject to us making mistakes, but the Word of God is inerrant. Everything we hear through other means must line up with what is in the Bible, or else we did not really hear God. In addition, when we become familiar with how He speaks in the Bible, it helps us recognize His voice accurately at other times.

God speaks through His Word:

  1. In a general way. We learn His precepts, what He says about Himself and His relationship with us, and how we are to walk out our life in Christ.
  2. By bringing a particular verse or passage to your attention for your current circumstances. He personalizes it to where you are in the now. People commonly say, a verse “leaped off the page to me.”
  3. The Holy Spirit recalls a particular verse to your remembrance when you need it. “But the Comforter, Who is the Holy Spirit, Whom the Father will send in My name, shall teach you all things and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said to you” (John 14:26).

A voice inside — This is what we often call “the inner voice.” It is the Holy Spirit, Who lives within every believer, speaking to your spirit-man. The inner voice can manifest in various ways:

  1. A word, phrase, or sentence which you seem to hear in your mind. You didn’t think it up yourself. In fact, it will often be inserted when you are thinking on an entirely different topic.
  2. The voice can be either in the 1st, 2nd, or 3rd person: “I love you, My child.” “You need to check on the baby.” “God cares about your needs.”
  3. It can feel like the words are originating in your heart or your stomach, rather than your mind. In America, we tend to talk about our spirit as residing in our “heart.” Among some eastern peoples, the seat of the spirit is thought to be in the stomach or abdomen area. I usually experience the inner voice as though God is speaking into my mind, but I’ve also occasionally felt as if the words were coming from somewhere deep within. Wherever in your body the words seem to be coming from, it is really God speaking to your spirit.

Pictures — Some of us are primarily hearers, while some are seers. Artistic people, along with visual learners, are more likely to see visions than to hear sentences in their spirit-man. On the simplest level — the way most visions happen on a day-to-day basis — a vision is a picture which comes into your mind. God places it within you; you don’t decide to think it up yourself. It is stronger than a fleeting imagination.

Common picture-visions:

  1. Someone’s face comes to mind when you are not thinking about him or her. This is God’s instruction to pray for the person in that moment.
  2. Seeing Jesus
  3. Seeing yourself with Jesus, doing something together with Him
  4. You see a simple object, which symbolizes something else. The Holy Spirit gives understanding of what the item symbolizes, often after you ask Him to explain.
  5. Have you lost an object, and looked everywhere for it without success? Try asking the Lord where it is. You may have a picture flash into your mind of where to look. We have found many lost articles around our home through God answering through this type of vision.

Visions such as these are “snapshot” pictures. Visions in the mind’s eye can also be progressive scenes. Visions can also be “open-eyed,” where it seems as though you are looking at them with your physical eyes. Open-eyed visions are the least common, but they do happen. They are often super-imposed over your natural surroundings, so that you see both at the same time.

An impression without words or pictures — You just know what God wants you to do, perhaps even down to details, yet you didn’t discern specific words or a definable picture. It is still God speaking to you. This is the way conviction of sin often happens. The Holy Spirit pricks our hearts about particular sins we have committed, and our response is to ask the Lord’s forgiveness.

By the way, if you can recognize the Lord speaking conviction of sin into your heart, you already know how to hear God. He speaks in that same voice about other things besides sin.

Next time, we’ll talk about a few more simple ways God speaks to us – ways in which we hear Him regularly, but do not always recognize as the Lord’s interaction with us.

Previous: Teaching Children to Hear God (Part 1)
Next: Teaching Children to Hear God (Part 3)

Hotline to Heaven: Hearing the Voice of God

Hotline to Heaven: Hearing the Voice of God

The Homeschool Guide to Raising Prayer-Filled Kids

The Homeschool Guide to Raising Prayer-Filled Kids

Teaching Children to Hear God (Part 1)

Jesus Loves ChildrenIn my last post, I said that a key to keeping the love-flame for Jesus hot in our children’s hearts is teaching them how to experience the Lord speaking to them personally. Indeed, this is important in keeping our own hearts ablaze for Him, too!

Every believer is entitled to hear the Lord speak to him or her. In John 10, Jesus spoke of the ability of sheep to recognize and be led by the voice of their Shepherd. Let’s look at just a few of the verses found there:

Vs. 3-5 — … The sheep hear His voice, and He calls His own sheep by name and leads them out. And when He puts forth His own sheep, He goes before them, and the sheep follow Him: for they know His voice. And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they do not know the voice of strangers.

V. 8 — All that ever came before Me are thieves and robbers: but the sheep did not hear them.

V. 27 — My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.

The theme is recognizing and being intimately familiar with the voice of the Shepherd — and obeying accordingly. Sheep are simple-minded animals, yet they know the difference between their shepherd’s voice and the voice of all others. That’s what we want to learn for ourselves and teach our children to do, too.

It is easier for children to come into the place of knowing the Lord’s voice than it is for adults, because they haven’t had all the doubts, what-ifs, insecurities, and other hang-ups planted in their thinking that we often have by the time we are grown. So, if we can help them develop a conversational relationship with the Lord from their earliest years, they will do better at it throughout their lives than those of us who started after we had already acquired a lot of hindering baggage.

Here are a few ways to get them started:

1.) Mention often in casual conversation that God wants to speak to them personally. Encourage them to talk to Him about everything — their happy and sad times, their struggles with obedience and with getting along with siblings, and their “I wonder about this” ideas.

2.) Tell them that God is eager to help them with obeying Mom and Dad and with making decisions. Assure them that He wants to guide them — even in the little choices they make.

3.) Encourage them to ask God questions, and to then be quiet for a few seconds to listen for His answer. Tell them He might answer by putting a thought or a picture in their minds, or by just helping them “know” the answer in their hearts. (I will talk more about ways God speaks to us in future posts.)

4.) Pray with them each day. Teach them how to pray from the time they are very small. Continue to pray with them as they grow older, but also set aside time in each day for them to pray on their own. (See my article, Teaching Babies to Love God, and my short book, The Homeschool Guide to Raising Prayer-Filled Kids  for a detailed plan.)

5.) Read the Bible to them daily, explaining passages to them as needed. Keep reading the Word to them right up through their teens. They will continue to learn through hearing the Word read and through discussing it with you. Also, provide a time in your homeschool schedule for them to read the Bible quietly on their own, once they are able. (Third grade / nine to ten years old seems to be an average age when reading alone works well for them.) The more familiar they become with the Scriptures, the easier it will be for them to recognize the Lord’s voice — because His voice in the Word and His personal voice to us sound the same.

6.) Share often with your children little things which the Holy Spirit is speaking to you. They don’t have to be monumental in nature. “You are My friend,” “I will take care of you,” and “I am always here for you,” are the stuff of which intimate relationship with Him is made.

That’s a starting and a continuing place. Through repeating these concepts often, we build an understanding in our children that they can expect to experience God interacting with them throughout the day. They will develop listening ears and seeing eyes, which are always half-tuned for what God might want to reveal to them.

Next time, we will touch on some of the many ways God speaks into our lives.

Next: Teaching Children to Hear God (Part 2)

Hotline to Heaven: Hearing the Voice of God

Hotline to Heaven: Hearing the Voice of God
The Homeschool Guide to Raising Prayer-Filled Kids


The Homeschool Guide to Raising Prayer-Filled Kids

First Things First (Hint: It’s About Jesus)

Jesus_088, by Linda Johns (Katie58_2006) at PhotoBucketThe beginning of a new school year is a good time to review what our purposes for homeschooling are. Families homeschool for multiple reasons, but for Christian homeschool parents, our primary goal should be to disciple our children into becoming ardent lovers of God. Yes, we want them to excel academically, so that they can function well in society when they are adults, but if we raise them to be successful in material ways, and yet their hearts are not intimately attached to the Lord, we will have failed in what matters most.

Raising our children to be Christ-lovers would be a daunting task, if we had to do it in our own strength. However, we do not. We have the Holy Spirit always at our elbow, eager to help us. We must draw on Him to give us the wisdom, and to open our eyes to moments throughout the day to draw our children’s attention to the Lord.

Training them up in the ways of the Lord goes far beyond making a Bible class part of our daily studies (although that can be a valuable tool). It is important to get to their hearts, not just their heads, with the message of Jesus, and then continually point them toward fastening their attention on Him. If we depend merely on a curriculum to do the work for us, we may end up with children who know all the Bible stories and all the doctrine, but do not know the Lord Himself.

Leading our children into a lifelong passion for Jesus begins with dedicating them to the Lord and interceding for their salvation. We tenderize their hearts to Him by presenting the simple Gospel message and talking about all His loving-kindness toward them. Eventually, and hopefully at a very early age, we lead them in a prayer of repentance and dedication of their hearts to Jesus. They are now what we often refer to as being “born again” (a term taken from the story of Jesus’ dialog with Nicodemus, in John 3).

My article, Teaching Babies to Love God, will help you to get started in cultivating a love for Jesus in your children, if you are unsure where to begin.

So that’s a start, but how do we keep them in the Kingdom? How do we make sure the flame continues to burn in their hearts, and how do we get it to burn brighter and hotter? I believe a key component is teaching our children to know the Lord’s voice personally. Ongoing relationship with Him depends much on two-sided communication with Him as both Lord and Friend. Today’s post is an introduction to an upcoming series on teaching children a lifestyle of being led by the Holy Spirit through hearing His voice and responding to Him.

Unfortunately, many modern-day Christians do not expect to hear God speak to them on a regular basis, and, in fact, have no idea how to hear God if they wanted to. I have noticed this especially in younger adults. Somewhere along the way, the art of hearing God ceased to be passed from one generation to the next. We can reverse that trend by beginning at an early age with our children, and I’m going to give you some practical how-to help for making it happen.

Perhaps you don’t really have a good grasp on hearing God yourself, so you might wonder, “How will I teach my children what I do not know?” It’s OK. You and your children can learn together. I hope you will find the adventure exciting!

While you are waiting for the series to get up and running, I have written a couple of short and inexpensive books which will be a big help to you in getting started. We have them in both print and e-book editions. (The e-book versions are a great choice if your budget is tight.):

Hotline to Heaven: Hearing the Voice of God

Hotline to Heaven: Hearing the Voice of God

The Homeschool Guide to Raising Prayer-Filled Kids

The Homeschool Guide to Raising Prayer-Filled Kids


New Discounts and Ordering Options

U. S. Customers:

Character Building for Families SetEverybody likes receiving discounts — and at Full Gospel Family Publications, we like giving them out, too! That’s why, for our U. S. customers, we are offering a 20% discount on orders of 5 or more Character Building for Families (either Volume 1 or 2, mix or match). Put together a group order for  your homeschool co-op or homeschooling buddies and save $3.20 per book. Order at our Character Building for Families homepage.

River Life Student EditionWe also offer a 25% discount on 5-10 copies of River Life: Entering into the Character of Jesus (ideal for your homeschooling teens). Order more than 10 copies and receive a 30% discount. Order at our River Life page.

As always, Media Mail shipping is free on all our products.

International Customers:

Over the years, shipping internationally has become extremely expensive, and I really hate how much we have to charge our international customers to ship your printed materials.

We have another solution for you. You can now purchase Character Building for Families and River Life: Entering into the Character of Jesus very reasonably as PDFs. Go to our ordering page, click on the button which applies to where you live, and look for the PDF options on the ordering page for significant savings.

(We’re not entirely automated, so we’ll e-mail your PDF to you. Please give us a short amount of response time.)

Sorry, PDFs are not available to U. S. customers.

Building God’s Kingdom Through Family (Part 4)

Leah drawingHow can we help our children understand the ongoing importance of family in the purposes of God?

1.) Teach them that family is the oldest of institutions, from the time of Adam and Eve. Explain to them the mandate God gave to that first family to fill, subdue, and take territory in the earth. (See Part 1 of this series.)

2.) Show them the thread of God’s plan for family from Abraham to Jesus. (See Part 2 of this series.)

3.) Tell them that family did not start as a new idea at Creation. God, by His very nature, has always thought in terms of family. Two of the Persons of the eternal Trinity relate to each other as Father and Son. Even the angels are sometimes referred to as the sons of God in Scripture.

4.) Instill in your children a love for the Church — because it is the family of God. “For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, of Whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named” (Ephesians 3:14, 15). Teach them to relate to other people in the body of Christ as brothers and sisters, who should receive our love and respect.

5.) Help them to understand that through Jesus they have become the sons and daughters of their Father in heaven:

For as many as are led by the Spirit of God are the sons of God. For you have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are the children of God, and if children, then heirs: heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ, if we suffer with Him, that we may be also glorified together. Romans 8:14-17

He is the King of the universe, and therefore they are royalty, and should act the part with grace. Explain to them the responsibilities of royalty and how to carry them out with humility.

6.) Teach them the concept of adoption. Use Romans 8:14-17 again. Adopted children have 100% of the privileges and inheritance rights of biological children. Therefore, what Jesus has is now equally ours as sons and daughters!

7.) Continuously build a sense of their God-given destiny into your children. Help them to develop a consciousness that God has a specific plan for each of them, which has been in place since before they were born — since before the world was born, for that matter.

Our secular humanist society would have them believe that their existence came about as a random toss of chance, and that an amoeba was their ancestor. But God says He knew each one of us before time began.

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestinated to be conformed to the image of His Son, so that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover, those whom He predestinated, them He also called; and whom He called, them He also justified; and whom He justified, them He also glorified. – Romans 8:28-30

… He has chosen us in Him [Christ] before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, wherein He has made us accepted in the Beloved.Ephesians 1:4-6

Help them to become familiar with Psalm 139. (Memorizing it would be a good idea.)

In this series, I have given you an overview of God’s plan for building His kingdom through family. Grasping it for ourselves and imparting it to our children is a huge task. But if we will ask for His aid, He will expand our understanding of all that it entails.

May you and your family be blessed, as you enter together into partnering with God for the establishment of His kingdom on earth.

Previous — Part 3

Character Building for Families


Character Building for Families



Building God’s Kingdom Through Family (Part 3)

Leah drawingI mentioned in Part 1 of this series that when God created Adam and Eve, He already had planned for the family to be a unit of spiritual warfare. He said they were to have dominion over all the earth, and that word dominion, in the Hebrew, means to “tread down, subjugate, prevail against, rule, reign, and take.”

The concept of family working together in warfare was well understood by the Israelites. Many sons meant increased strength when an enemy came calling. Psalm 127:4, 5 says, “As arrows in the hand of a mighty man; so are the children of one’s youth. Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them. They shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate.”

Now, as then, we have an enemy who comes to “kill, steal, and destroy.” Jesus came, however, so that we “might have life and have it more abundantly” (John 10:10). Jesus is the abundant Life-Giver, but one of the ways we can partner with Him in shedding abroad abundant life is by living out solid family relationships, where Jesus reigns supreme in our homes. At the very least, our children will experience abundant life through the safety and security they enjoy. Beyond that, stable families with happy children are a testimony to nonbelievers that there is something more which they can have as well, if they will give their hearts to the Lord.

Raising children who love Jesus more than life, and who will be willing to “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness” (Matthew 6:33) long after they have left our homes, is not an easy task. Accomplishing that goal is in itself a large component of spiritual warfare. We must depend on the Lord at every step to help us with the task and to rescue us and our children when any of us falter.

Next time, we will talk about some ways we can help our children thrive by giving them an understanding of the purpose of family.

Previous: Part 2
Next: Part 4

Character Building for Families

Character Building for Families