The world is a scary place, actually a really terrifying place, to be raising kids. You just have to glance at the headlines in the paper to see that the world is turning against Christianity. How long will we or our children have the freedom to worship Christ openly? Unless God reaches down and puts a stop to this down-hill course our country is on, the freedoms we have been accustomed to will rapidly erode.
But more dangerous than persecution, are the temptations that face our sons (and daughters) like never before with the easy access to all kinds of evil on the internet, not only on computers, but on smart phones carried around in the pockets of most young people.
How do our four sons and our sweet little daughter stand a chance of growing up pure and godly when they are so bombarded with evil on every side?
Psalm 119:9 has an answer for us. It says,
Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed thereto according to Thy word.
Our young people can cleanse their souls of the filthiness around them through God’s word. Paul writes in Ephesians, while describing the Christian’s armor, that we should “take the sword of the spirit which is the Word of God.”
Our children are in a war. Like Apollyon in The Pilgrim’s Progress, Satan is warring for their souls. It was with the sword (the Word of God) that Christian was able to fight off Apollyon. Without it, he was helpless and faced defeat.
Would you send a soldier into battle without any weapons? He would be helpless against the attacks of the enemy. We would do well to make sure our children are equipped to do war against the enemy of their souls.
And, of course, Jesus, our best example, used Scripture to defeat Satan when he was tempted in the wilderness.
Because of this, we as a family have tried to focus on scripture memorization. We have not always been as consistent as we would have liked but through the years we have learned some things that have made it easier.
If you are going to memorize consistently it takes a lot of dedication. If your children are younger and not very self-motivated, a lot of the responsibility falls on the parent. This is true especially if your children are not reading yet, but we’ve found even with older children, it’s often the parent that sets the stage. I’ve realized that when I have a few minutes after meals or in the evening I have a choice? I can choose to either be on the computer (or reading a book) or initiate memory-work time. Which will pay off more in the long run?
We as a family have decided that video games would be counter-productive to Scripture memory. After talking with other families, some of them missionaries, who have had disastrous results from allowing video games in their homes, we have decided that video games would dull the minds of our children in a way that would make it harder for them to do Bible memory, not to mention making it harder for them to relate to the real world.
We have found making ourselves accountable to another family helps greatly. The most we have memorized as a family was last year when we decided to memorize Romans 1-7 with another family from our church. We planned together to memorize a chapter a month. I know that without that accountability we would have made excuses as to why we should get extra time and we would never have made our goals.
Don’t underestimate the power of offering small rewards to motivate your children. When we were memorizing Romans, upon the completion of each chapter, our children would spend a fun day together with their friends who were also memorizing the same chapter. We don’t mind giving monetary rewards either. As your children grow up, they will realize that the scripture that they have memorized is the greatest reward but, meanwhile, it really helps to have more immediate and tangible rewards.
For the past two years we have also joined The National Bible Bee during the summer. For a small membership fee they will send you a Bible study book on a portion of scripture and scripture memory cards. The first year they also sent a CD with all the memory passages set to music. At the end of the summer, the boys were tested on the material and if they did well enough they could have earned the opportunity to go to Nationals where they could compete against other young people and win cash prizes.
So far the boys haven’t qualified, but just knowing we are memorizing along with thousands of others and knowing that a test is coming is motivation to stay on course.
When I was young I was part of the National Bible Quizzing program. I memorized whole books of the Bible during the years I participated. Was it overly competitive? Yes, sometimes. But I will never regret the large portions of scripture I memorized.
There are many different ways to memorize. One way which works well for us is to say a passage together three times at each meal. It is easiest to be consistent if we print or write out the passage in large letters and hang it by the kitchen table. Usually by the end of a week we have the passage memorized.
Another way that works is writing the passage on a dry erase board and erasing one word at a time. I remember enjoying this in Sunday School when I was young.
While we were participating in the Bible Bee this past year, they suggested hanging the passage in doorways throughout the house. Every time you walk through the doorway, you were supposed to quote a different highlighted section of Scripture. Our youngest son really latched on to this idea and soon had the house plastered with Bible verses.
Scripture Typer is a free online resource to help you memorize. My sons have enjoyed using this.
My older son likes to write the first letter of each word of a verse he’s memorizing on his hand. He says by the time it washes off, he often has the verse memorized.
I’ve already mentioned Scripture sent to music. There are many Bible CDs available. Scripture Memory Fellowship is one of our favorite resources. I love their ABC Memory Book, and have used it when our boys were little. The CD that goes with this has sweet music that is not loud or obnoxious, but varied enough to be interesting.
It’s really time I start using it with Baby Girl, too. There is probably no easier way to learn Bible verses than to learn them as songs.
Reviewing what we have learned is probably one of the hardest steps. It is discouraging to work hard to memorize a passage and then forget it. A few years ago, I came across this index card method of making sure you review the verses you’ve memorized.
It involves reviewing recently learned passages on odd or even days, older passages on different days of the week, and still older passages on different days of the month. The link above includes detailed instructions and printable index card dividers with labeled tabs.
It gets a little harder if you need to review whole chapters, but don’t get discouraged if you do forget. The chapters you memorize will never be completely forgotten. It’s been over twenty years since I memorized whole books of the bible in Bible Quizzing and though I can’t quote them, I still have a very good idea of what is found in each chapter and usually if someone starts a verse I can finish it.
And if I decide to memorize them again with the boys I’ll have that head start I really need given the fact that their minds are younger and quicker.
I want to be sure to add that we, of ourselves, cannot choose the direction our children go. We cannot make them pure and holy. It takes a work of the Holy Spirit in their hearts. But God is able to use the Scripture they have memorized. The Bible says that faith comes by hearing the Word of God. Paul says to Timothy “that from a child thou hast known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.”
I’ll close with the words to a hymn by Isaac Watts.
How shall the young secure their hearts
And guard their lives from sin?
Thy Word the choicest rules imparts
To keep the conscience clean.
When once it enters to the mind,
It spreads such light abroad,
The meanest souls instruction find,
And raise their thoughts to God.
’Tis, like the sun, a heav’nly light
That guides us all the day,
And through the dangers of the night
A lamp to lead our way.
Thy precepts make me truly wise:
I hate the sinner’s road;
I hate my own vain thoughts that rise,
But love Thy law, my God.
Thy Word is everlasting truth;
How pure is every page!
That holy Book shall guide our youth
And well support our age.
I hope I’ve inspired you to start memorizing if you aren’t doing it already. I know that we need to start up again. We haven’t been very diligent with it lately. Do you have any tips or favorite resources to share? What are you currently memorizing as a family? Let’s commit to being more intentional about memorizing God’s word.