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Habit: Remembering The Thoughts Of God

Bible - American Standard Version Spine

“To keep a child in this habit of the thought of God––so that to lose it, for even a little while, is like coming home after an absence and finding his mother out––is a very delicate part of a parent’s work.”
CM volume 3 page 141

“The habit of hearing, and later, of reading the Bible, is one to establish at an early age.”
CM volume 3 page 142

I didn’t realize it at the time but when I became a Christian I had some good habits to establish. There were habits I needed to learn for myself and then pass on to my children. I had the desire for my children to have a close personal relationship with their Creator and not the sort of  “just go to church on Sunday” up-bringing that I experienced. Crucial to our relationship with God is having knowledge (John 17:3) and if we are really going to get to know him and be pleasing to him we need to look into his Word regularly. I also yearned for my children to feel the joy that comes with reading the “letter” that their Creator wrote to them, hoping they would listen and live a long time (Eph. 6:1-4).

Introducing the Bible to my children at an early age, we established the habit of Bible reading as a family. First thing each day we gather for our Bible time and over the years we have read both children’s versions of the Bible and straight from the Bible itself. We use a modern translation as well as an Interlinear Bible.

Bible - Proverbs 10 and 11

“The field of the habits of the religious life should afford many valuable matters for reflection and teaching; as, for example, the habitual thought of God in a family; the habit of reverence in thought, attitude, act, and speech; the habit of prayer as regards time, place, manner, matter; the habit of praise and thanksgiving; the habits of attention and devotion during a service; aids to devout habits; the habit of devotional reading.”
CM volume 3 page 144

In my experience, the most valuable part of raising a family of Bible readers is that we learn Bible principles, applying and connecting the accounts and counsel we study to our everyday lives. This habit over time builds up a firm foundation and leads to behavior that is governed by the principles rather than a long list of rules. What was learned as a young one can grow with them and inside them, affecting how they react as teens. They allow themselves to be molded by the words they trust and not by outside peer pressure or even adult pressure. They can stand up for their beliefs because those principles are solidly a part of who they are and what they stand for as a young Christian.

“You will cause me to know the path of life.
Rejoicing to satisfaction is with your face;
There is pleasantness at your right hand forever.”
Psalms 16:11

Memorizing scripture is important and allows the holy spirit to recall verses to mind when needed but having the ideas and principles in their hearts is the tricky part. In our family, we don’t just read scriptures. I have learned to ask them questions as a follow-up.

  • What do they think about a verse or account?
  • How does it apply to them? 
  • What did they learn from reading the account? 
  • And the biggest one of all….do they believe what they read? 

Sometimes I assume my children get the point of a scripture but when asked a probing question, they crumble and waver. I look at it as just another opportunity to help them learn to rely on God’s spirit and direction. We do some more research, perhaps looking up cross references, hopefully finding a way to reach the heart. It takes time and you really need to pray for guidance. My goal has always been to encourage my children to look to the Bible FIRST for advice and direction. Isn’t that something we can all work on?

“When wisdom enters into your heart and knowledge itself becomes pleasant to your very soul, thinking ability itself will keep guard over you, discernment itself will safeguard you..” Prov. 2:10

Charlotte Mason gives us some good direction in using the Bible to train our child’s thinking in Volume 3 of her series. Like all habits, they can be started at any time and it is never too late to establish this important habit of remembering the thoughts of God. You may be interested in reading about our progressive Bible study in this post: Knowledge that is Better Than Silver and Gold.

This post is part of the Charlotte Mason Blog Carnival scheduled for Tuesday, November 8, 2011.

Homeschool Bible Study – Follow Up Post

4 19 11 Dandelions

Follow Up To My Bible Post From Last Week:
Someone asked me if we really started at the beginning of the Bible and read straight through because they felt it was such a long stretch through the OT to get to the gospels. Here is my response.

Our staple is to read along from front to back and to make connections as we read. We do that every morning. We also have one additional study time each week where we read in the NT..right now we are working on the book of Acts (previously read Luke).

My boys also have their own personal study time that they work on their own projects. This could be a study of a person in the Bible, the study of a celebration like Passover, a prophecy, a word study, or a project of personal interest.

Our aim is to make everything point to the Kingdom of God…the Tabernacle in the wilderness was a foreshadow of the Temple arrangement, and a model of the heavenly arrangement. The sacrifices of the Law were leading to Christ. If you have a cross-reference Bible you can also take time to look up some of the references that will take you to fulfillment of prophecy or give you a clearer connection to the the NT.

I also recommend at least one time through your Bible to read it chronologically. You can Google “books of the Bible in chronological order” and there are places that give you a way to start from the beginning of history and travel through time. (This actually puts the book of Job after Genesis and you read the book of Psalms as your work through Samuel and Chronicles.) Here is one to give you an idea: Books in Chronological Order.

As far as pace, some days we work through more than a chapter and we read every day….not just school days. I think we are working on our 4th time through as a family. Some of the children have additionally worked on their own to read the Bible in a year as a project. My daughter is currently working on reading through in Spanish.

The intent of my original blog entry was to give some shape to how we grew through the stages with our children. We always aimed to make it meaningful and to make it something they could apply in their lives. The questions I listed in my post are really good at reaching little hearts (big hearts too).

“For the Knowledge That is Better Than Silver or Gold” – Our Homeschool Bible Education Plans

Bible Study 10

What better living book than the Bible to help give our children ideas to think about and real life examples to learn from as they grow into lovers of truth? 

“We should be working as hard at understanding the teachings of Jesus as Plato’s disciples did at comprehending his words of wisdom. Let’s take up our notebooks and study the orderly and progressive sequence, the penetrating quality, the irresistible appeal, and the uniqueness of the Divine teaching. For this kind of study, it might be good to use a chronological arrangement of the Gospels. Let’s not just read for our own benefit, although we will benefit. Let’s read for the love of the knowledge that’s better than silver or gold.”
Charlotte Mason, volume 6 page 338

We have always included a study of the Bible in our homeschool even when the children were very young. The true test of a living book, in my opinion, is its ability to influence our thinking in a positive way, to move us to action. The combination of Bible reading and then some sort of interaction with the ideas is a powerful tool in raising a Godly family.

Bible study images (4)
This is when Mr. A was obsessed with making bubble letters like his big sister.

Preschool – Reading Age (around 5): I would read aloud a Bible account from a children’s Bible Stories book and then I would read the corresponding scriptures from the Bible. We do not use the King James version but one that is a modern translation. (Note: Charlotte Mason prefers the King James.)

The children would then narrate on a level that is appropriate for their abilities, either in drawings and/or short narrations. We gently started memorizing the order of the books in the Bible.

Bible study images (2)
They would copy the scripture into the notebook and draw a picture to go with it.

Grammar Stage (approx. age 5-9): We started at the beginning of the Bible and each day we would read one chapter together. As soon as they were able, they would read a few verses aloud for the family. We would discuss the chapter after reading it and each person would answer one of the following questions:

  • What do these scriptures teach us about God’s qualities?
  • How does this relate to the overall theme of the Bible?
  • How does this affect my life?
  • How can I share this with others?

We started Bible scripture memorization which at that time was one verse at a time of my choosing. We continued memorizing the order of the books of the Bible by using memory aids and games that I made up.

Bible study images (5)
Logic Stage (approx. age 10-13): We continue with one chapter a day Bible reading (starting back at the beginning when we finished Revelation) and discussion outlined above but once a week we take time to choose a scripture to write about in our Bible notebooks. This is a short paragraph with our own thoughts and perhaps a plan for applying the counsel in our own lives.

We started the Simply Charlotte Mason Bible memorization system where we were learning multiple scriptures at a time. I can remember telling the boys that I wish I had learned a scripture a week when I was growing up so that I could draw those up to my memory now when I need them. I would remind them when they were discouraged that knowing Bible scripture is like having hidden treasure in your heart. (I think they are now at an age that they can appreciate the effort we have put into this project.)

Rhetoric Stage (approx. 14-18): The plan includes all the components from the Grammar and Logic stage but the Bible is used as a text for Ancient History study where we tie our history learning in with the Bible. This has been the best experience for me as a parent because I can actually see my children mature as we make connections and discuss all aspects of our history study in light of Bible scripture.

We also started memorizing longer and longer passages from the Bible. The boys now are memorizing whole chapters of scripture at a time. This is a process that seems impossible at first but it is so satisfactory when it is accomplished. I see great value in not only having a whole treasure chest filled with “silver and gold” scriptures but complete thoughts from Biblical writers like David, Paul, and Luke.

Bible study images (1)
Each of us has our own Commonplace Book where we keep track of scriptures that we especially feel a need to remember. I keep mine by category….one category on a page with a list of scriptures written underneath. The boys just keep a journal type listing for scriptures that they feel apply to their lives.

Into Adulthood: My older two children are in their twenties and they have kept up their own personal Bible study in various ways. Meaningful study of the Bible can be a progressive training so that long into the adult years it is as natural as breathing. Treasures better than silver and gold…living thoughts that influence us for the life ahead.

Barb-Harmony Art Mom

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