Category Archives: homeschool

A Well-Grounded Faith (Part 6)

In this last post in our A Well-Grounded Faith series, we’ll look at a few more items you may want to include in your children’s education in the foundations of the faith:

What were the criteria for determining which books ended up in the Bible? (And how do we know they really belong there?) This is a question many people have at some point in their Christian life.

Assure your children that God’s Word is precious to Him, and that He had a personal hand in guiding the leaders of the early church to discern which books were truly His inspired revelation. Besides that, the early church fathers used strict criteria which writings had to live up to, in order to be considered authentic. Answers in Genesis gives an easy-to-understand and thorough explanation of the process. You may wish to use other sources as well. We can be assured that the Bible we have today is indeed the inspired Word of God.

Make sure your children are thoroughly certain what the gospel message is. Our children should be very clear on what we mean by “the gospel.” Unfortunately, there are many voices out there trying to complicate this. The apostle Paul dealt with this same problem, and wrote in 2 Corinthians 11:3, But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity which is in Christ.”

Here is the gospel message in a nutshell:

God sent His Son, Jesus, to pay the price for our salvation. Jesus took all our sin upon Himself, died in our place, and rose again from the dead. Every person who believes on Jesus for salvation, and acknowledges Him as Lord, is accepted by the Father and has eternal life. There is no way to God except through Jesus.

That is the simple gospel in my words — but don’t spoon-feed it to your children. Study the message of salvation in the Bible, and then ask your children to write a summary of the gospel in a short paragraph. Three to six sentences should do it. By requiring them to think it through and then write it down for themselves, you will help to solidify the message in their hearts.

Here are some Bible references to help you as you study together:
John 14:6
Romans 10:9, 10
1 Corinthians 15:1-4
Ephesians 2:8, 9 1 John 5:11, 12

Play “The Bible Answer Mom (or Dad)” — Set aside a special time once a week to field your children’s questions about God and the Bible. This doesn’t mean that they have to hold their questions during the rest of the week. They should be able to ask you things they wonder about as they come to mind. But when you set aside a special time and encourage them to be prepared with questions they would like to ask during that time, it builds an anticipation. This can become one of the highlights of your family’s school week.

If you like, make a game of it, where the kids try to stump you. Get the children involved in searching out the answers with you. (It’s OK to say, “I don’t know. Let’s find that out together.”) This could be a great way to teach them how to find answers for themselves in a concordance and at various online Bible study sites.

Here are a few websites I like to use when I need answers:

Answers in Genesis (not only for questions about creation)

Got Questions?

Christian Answers.net

A couple of final thoughts:

Remind them often that knowing God is about being led by His Spirit, moment-by-moment, rather than merely presenting an outward appearance of obeying a set of expectations or rules. It is about a living, breathing relationship with Him, anchored in His Word.

The most effective way to teach the foundations of our faith to our children is through repetition. Once is not enough. They need to hear these truths again and again, through frequent review. Make talking about the things of God a priority. As our children grow, we can increase the depth of what we teach, according to how their understanding has increased.

Deuteronomy 11:16-22 gives us a pattern to follow:

Take heed to yourselves, so that your heart is not deceived and you turn aside and serve other gods and worship them…. Therefore, you shall lay up these my words in your heart and in your soul….

And you shall teach them to your children, speaking of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. And you shalt write them upon the doorposts of your house, and upon your gates, so that your days may be multiplied, and the days of your children, in the land which the LORD swore to your fathers to give them, as the days of heaven upon the earth…. Diligently keep all these commandments which I command you, to do them, to love the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways, and to cleave to Him.

Establishing our children as solid Christians, who can withstand the temptations and deceptions of the world around us, is not for wimps. We must be steadfast and persevering in the task. However, we can be confident that the Lord Himself will help us, as we depend upon Him. He is more interested in seeing our children develop into strong believers than we are. All of heaven’s aid is at our disposal.

Previous — Part 5  

 

Character Building for Families

A Well-Grounded Faith (Part 5)

In our previous posts, we talked about teaching our children the Ten Commandments and the core beliefs of all true Christians. Having a clear understanding of God’s character is still another essential part of possessing a well-grounded faith. If we understand His unchangeable nature, we are less likely to fall for the deceptions which are so prevalent in our world.

In the Bible, God reveals much about Himself through His names:

  • The LORD our Sovereign
  • The Everlasting God
  • The LORD our Provider
  • The LORD our Healer
  • The LORD our Peace
  • The LORD our Righteousness
  • The LORD our Shepherd
  • The All-Sufficient One

The Names of God, by Lee Ann RubsamThere are hundreds of  names and titles for God in the Bible, and they are a wonderful way to discover Who He is. My website has a free list of most of the names of God, if you are interested in studying them further. (We also offer a low-cost e-book or print booklet which includes Bible references for His names.)

While conversing with God right after the terrible golden calf experience, Moses asked Him, “If I have found grace in Your sight, show me now Your way, so that I may know You. … I beseech You, show me Your glory” (Exodus 33:13, 18). In essence, Moses was asking the Lord to reveal His nature to him, and God granted his request. He placed Moses in a cleft of rock (v. 22), and allowed him to see a portion of His glory as He passed by, proclaiming, “The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty…” (Exodus 34:5-7).

We see in this passage seven character qualities of God:

  • His mercy
  • Graciousness
  • Patience
  • Goodness
  • Truthfulness
  • Desire to forgive
  • His justice (fairness)

Others clearly outlined in the Bible are:

  • His holiness
  • Faithfulness
  • Desire to be our Provider
  • Unconditional love
  • His sovereignty

“God IS love,” according to 1 John 4:16. Teach your children that whatever God does stems from His absolute love for them, whether they are feeling it in the moment or not. He does not love some more than others (“God is no respecter of persons” Acts 10:34). He does not love us based on how “good” we are. Many of us who are adults struggle with feeling loved by God. One of the devil’s most successful lies is that God doesn’t love us. We must start early and be persistent in establishing the truth of God’s love in our children’s hearts.

One of God’s names is “My Goodness” (Psalm 144:2). His absolutely good nature ensures that He will never lie to us and that He will always be faithful to keep His promises. Because of His goodness, we can be assured that He will provide for us. In Exodus 3:14, God calls Himself “I AM THAT I AM.” In essence, He is saying, “I AM whatever you need.” Study the I AMs of God with your children. You will be blessed with a greater appreciation of how much God loves to provide for us. You will find a list of the I AMs at my The Names of God webpage and also in The Names of God book I mentioned earlier.

God’s sovereignty is not whimsical or capricious. We can count on Him never to violate the promises He has given us in His Word. Nor will He ever negate other facets of His character. While He is all-powerful, He cannot do things which go against His own pure nature.

Before Whom We Stand, by Lee Ann RubsamIf you would like help in teaching the nature of God to your children, my book, Before Whom We Stand: The Everyman’s Guide to the Nature of God may be helpful to you. In it, I first explain characteristics common to the three Persons of the Trinity, and then give a breakdown of the unique roles of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It can be used as a springboard for discussion for the entire family, or as a text for junior high-age children and older.

You may also find the Encouragement from God’s Word section of my website helpful in teaching God’s nature. It topically lists many Scripture verses which you can use as supporting evidence as you teach the character qualities of God.

In our wrap-up post in this series, I will present a couple more ideas for building a well-grounded faith in our children, as well as a few final pointers.

Previous — Part 4 (Ten Commandments, cont.)

Next — Part 6 (Series Wrap-Up)

Servant Parenting

We then who are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak and not to please ourselves. — Romans 15:1

Being a parent can feel overwhelming, especially for those who have several small children to attend to. Sometimes it gets discouraging, as we deal with one need after another without much of a break to regain our personal tranquility.

I remember the discouragement I felt several months after having our second child. Recovering from a C-section this time around had not been nearly as easy as it had been with the first child, almost twelve years before. Furthermore, the doctors told me I had gone into this pregnancy not yet fully recovered from the chemo and radiation I had completed just five months previously. To top it off, our beloved miracle baby, my promise of a restored life from our Father in heaven, suffered stomach issues and cried incessantly.

In the midst of all my fatigue, I indulged in a small pity party, with me the only guest. Why could I not have a little peace and quiet? Why all the jumping up every few minutes to meet another demand? Why couldn’t I have a tiny bit more time for uninterrupted thoughts without another colic bout intruding? (You may snort your disdain, because I had only one small one to deal with, but the struggle was still real!)

The Lord quickly recalled to my mind an article I had once read in a homeschool magazine. The author had told of her own time of feeling overwhelmed by small children, and how the Holy Spirit had quickened to her heart Romans 15:1: “We then who are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak and not to please ourselves.” God had applied the verse to her parenting, encouraging her to serve her children, to bear with their neediness for so much help, and to set her wants for time to herself aside.

The Lord used that verse to bring me out of my own case of the blues, and to give me a new joy in serving both my children. I mulled it over often in the ensuing days: I can bear the frailties of my little girl. Jesus calls me to not please myself, but to do this for Him, and to do it with joy. From that point on, I really did find new joy and strength in serving her.

I remembered another story I had heard, of a mom who pictured herself as serving the Christ Child every time she dressed or fed her small children. It helped her to overcome impatience and to lavish love upon them. I took that story to heart and started applying it, too.

Our self-serving society constantly barrages us with the message that we’re supposed to indulge ourselves. We are told that the good life is all about us having our needs met, our desires gratified. In particular, women have been brainwashed into thinking that children are a hindrance to our fulfillment, so the sooner we get them out of our hair, the sooner we can accomplish “important” things. Meanwhile, we miss realizing that the little people we have been given to serve on a moment-by-moment basis are the genuinely important things.

Those of us who follow Jesus must continually push back against these selfish ideals. Intellectually, we know from the Bible that we are called to serve one another, to put others ahead of ourselves. That knowledge doesn’t make it easy, however. Perhaps one of the best, and yet often hardest, training grounds for learning to be a servant is within our own families. Jesus calls us to die to self. Paul even said, “I die daily” (1 Corinthians 15:31). It’s not a popular or frequently heard message in the Church today, but it is as valid as it ever was.

Jesus uses serving our family to build our character. For those of you who find caring for your children a great joy without much of a struggle, what a blessing! It is a special grace, which may be due to your God-given temperament or His unique plans for you. The Lord will find other means to build your character. But for those of us who are more challenged in this area, He uses it to mold us into the likeness of Himself.

… In lowliness of mind, let each of us esteem others as better than ourselves. Do not look every one on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus. — Philippians 2:3-5

Do it for Him, bear it for Him. He will receive your servant parenting as if you had ministered directly to Him. It is a fragrant offering.

 

Character Building for Families

 

 

Create an Atmosphere of Peace in Your Home (Part 3)

swan-pixabay-public-domainI mentioned in Part 1 of this series that the place to start in developing a peaceful atmosphere in our homes is by making prayer the first priority. In Part 2, I gave some practical tips for enhancing that peace. Let’s look at a few more ways to increase the level of peace in our homes.

Create an atmosphere of peace by playing worship music in the background. Keep the volume low enough so it is not distracting. Choose music which is somewhat serene. You don’t want Johnny and Susie’s adrenaline to kick into overdrive.

Love first, lessons second. Some days, hugs and snuggles are more needed than at other times. Take the time to dish them out. Accomplishing tasks may be temporarily delayed, but in the long run, they will get done more easily, if heart-needs have been met.

Be quick to ask forgiveness when you have not been Christ-like toward your children. You will be an example of humility to them which will last a lifetime. Also take the time to make sure they resolve conflict among themselves. Insist that they ask for and give forgiveness to each other. It takes time, as often they will resist doing this, but it is one of the most important lessons they will ever learn.

Recognize the difference between major and minor incidents. Sin should always be dealt with, but many times we parents tend to freak out about little non-sin things which really don’t matter all that much. They are simply irritations to us, caused by our children’s immaturity. As the saying goes, “Don’t sweat the small stuff.”

Rejuvenate peace by taking a ten-minute break when things get crazy. You might encourage them to take a timeout to read, play, or run around in the back yard. You will appreciate the break yourself.

When the children’s emotions are tail-spinning, pray with them. When our children were sad, discouraged, or upset, we asked the Holy Spirit together to take back control of their emotions. We taught them to pray for themselves this way, too. It really does change how they feel. Within minutes, we had a turnaround in their outlook. (This works for grownups too!)

Remember that you — not the children — are in control of whether peace reigns or not. Children have a way of quite naturally influencing the emotional atmosphere of the home. If we let this happen, it just frazzles and overwhelms us. We need to make sure we are the ones who set the tone for peace, and then pull the rest of the family back into line, if things start to get out of whack.

Finally, continually cover your family in prayer. As you do, and implement these other tips as well, you will find your home improving in its peacefulness.

Previous: Part 2 

 

All-Surpassing Peace in a Shaking World

 

 

Character Building for Families

Create an Atmosphere of Peace in Your Home (Part 2)

In our last post, we talked about laying the foundation for peace in our homes through prayer. Without a good foundation, a building will quickly crumble, and it’s the same in our homes. Begin with prayer.

Let’s look at some other elements which will help us in cultivating a peaceful home atmosphere.

Develop a healthy balance between structure and flexibility. Structure helps to provide security and peace. By structure, I mean things like

  • Having an overall plan or set of goals
  • Putting into place a schedule which sees to it that the plan is accomplished
  • A consistent routine, with known expectations
  • House rules of behavior, clearly understood and expected of everyone

When we have these things in place, our children tend to feel more peaceful. Surprises are nice for special occasions, but for day-by-day life, most of us do better when we have a good idea of what is supposed to happen next. God is a God of order, and He has built the need for order into us, because we are made in His image.

But, we should temper our structure with flexibility. Decide ahead of time that if something unusual comes up, which makes sticking with your schedule for the day difficult or impossible, it’s OK. Don’t let it rattle you or your kids. Plan on a few disruptions (even big ones) here and there, and don’t let structure be a god. A schedule should be something you rule, not something that rules you.

Ask God at the beginning of your day to be Lord of your time. If something comes up which might cause a delay in tasks being accomplished, ask Him to help you make up for lost time and catch up on any important work. He created time, and He knows how to help us master it.

Seize teachable moments as they happen. It is more important to stop and talk about questions your children have about the Lord, His ways, and how life is supposed to work, than it is to stay strictly on schedule. Those God-moments where the spiritual light bulb goes on inside of them are of eternal value.

Flowing back and forth between an established routine and dropping that routine for better things is part of living life according to the Spirit. “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty” (2 Corinthians 3:17), and liberty mixed with orderliness makes life more enjoyable for the whole family — and more peaceful.

Discern between what is essential and what is not. When we first began homeschooling, I thought we had to do everything in the lesson books, or else my children would end up with gaping holes in their education. The truth is, in most of those workbooks, there is a lot of nonessential busywork. Your children don’t have to do all the crosswords and word searches or color all the pictures, especially if such activities are boring to them. These are not so much educational exercises as they are ways to fill out the workbook or keep the children busy so they don’t bother anybody for a while.

I also discovered that there is a lot of unnecessary review work. The program we started out with involved ten workbooks for each subject, and we struggled to get all ten done in a school year. But after the first year, I realized that the last workbook in the series was just review of the other nine … and then in the following school year, the same review was repeated again. So, we learned to skip those final workbooks. Curriculum companies are masters at providing repeat materials. It’s good to review to an extent, but too much is overkill, and it can stress your family out. So increase your peace by cutting out nonessential busywork.

Tidiness enhances peace. Because God has built a desire for order into us, a wreck of a home tends to contribute to chaotic emotions on our insides. It is OK to take some time as part of the school day to clean house and pick up clutter. Call it a “Life Skills” class. You will feel happier, and so will your children.

Next time, we’ll finish up with a few more ideas for how to bring about a greater level of peace to our homes.

Previous: Part 1
Next: Part 3

 

All-Surpassing Peace in a Shaking World

 

 

Character Building for Families

Create an Atmosphere of Peace in Your Home

swan-pixabay-public-domainDoes it seem like chaos rules at your house since you started home schooling? Do you spend most days wishing you could reduce the noise and stress levels by dropping the kids off at the nearest public school so that you could enjoy your mom-cave of peace and quiet for a few blissful hours?

While it’s natural that commotion levels will rise in direct proportion to the number of bodies occupying territory under the same roof, there are practical steps you can take to reduce turmoil, preserve your sanity, and create a sense of peace for everyone in your home.

It starts with getting our priorities in order. This means if we get things right spiritually first, a beachhead of peace will be established. Then, with a few tweaks here and there, the rest will fall into place nicely.

According to 1 Corinthians 14:33, “God is not the author of confusion, but of peace ….” Peace is an aspect of Who God is, and since it is part of His nature, it can become part of ours as well. If our home is in a state of upheaval most of the time, something is amiss in our relationship with the Lord, because confusion is not of Him, while peace is.

One of the Holy Spirit’s objectives, as He dwells within us, is to help us continually grow into the likeness of Jesus. In fact, Galatians 5:22, 23 tells us that “the fruit of the Spirit [at work within us] is love, joy, peace, longsuffering [patience], gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness [humility], temperance [self control].” The various aspects of the fruit of the Spirit don’t work separately from each other. In other words, as we depend on the Holy Spirit to help us respond lovingly, gently, with patience and self control, we feel more peaceful, and if we determine to stay peaceful, it will in turn help us be more patient, loving, joyful, etc.

So, how do we go about establishing a beachhead of peace in our own hearts and then the hearts of our children?

Start your day with prayer. Many of us miss how important this is. It’s vital for you, the parent, to have that time alone with the Lord, but it’s equally vital for your children. My book, The Homeschool Guide to Raising Prayer-Filled Kids, is a short and inexpensive step-by-step plan for how to teach your children to pray and get them into the habit of prayer. If you don’t know where to begin, it will really help you.

Start your school day by gathering the family to pray and read the Bible together. (You can count this as Bible class if you want to.) After you have prayed together for a while (not just a quick sentence or two and you’re done), give the older children some time on their own to pray. Use that time to be with the Lord yourself, if you haven’t already taken time for Him.

Spending time with the Lord allows Him to instill in us His character traits, and peace is one of them. As we make the effort to build relationship with Him, something wonderful happens: His Presence fills the atmosphere around us. As we consciously abide with and in Him, we are also filled, refilled, and increasingly filled with the Holy Spirit. In the process, we become like Him.

Ephesians 5:18-20 commands us to “… be filled with the Spirit, speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; giving thanks always for all things to God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” The details mentioned here of how to be filled and refilled with the Spirit are all elements of prayer. If we start our day fully focused on the Lord, that flow of communion with the Holy Spirit continues with us throughout the day, so that we keep on carrying His peace and joy into all that we do, say, and think. This is why prayer is so important for both you and your children.

Quite frankly, prayer time is not an extra option. It is the prayerful home that is the peaceful home. If we don’t make the effort to start with prayer, none of the other steps I’ll be listing in the next post are going to help a whole lot. So, let’s begin there.

Next: Part 2

 

The Homeschool Guide To Raising Prayer-Filled Kids

 

 

 

All-Surpassing Peace in a Shaking World

New Release — Teach Your Kids to Hear God!

Kids Hear God Cover 425

Now available as an e-book from

 All normal parents want their children to grow up into thriving, responsible adults. But Christian parents have an even more important dream: that their children would be fervent lovers of God throughout their lives. Sure, we can “train them up in the way they should go,” but how do we make sure they continue to burn brightly for Jesus, once they are grown? A key component is teaching our children to know the Lord’s voice personally, so that their ongoing relationship with Him increases in strength as they mature.

Teach Your Kids to Hear God! gives simple explanations to help you and your children recognize the variety of ways God speaks. It also provides many practical tips for how to make listening for the Lord a daily adventure in your family. Although written particularly for homeschooling parents, this short book will work for any Christian parent who is willing to take the time to disciple his or her children into a deeper life in Christ.