This past week The Renewed Family was hunted down by the good folks at Bible Gateway and invited to join their directory of nearly 500 Christian bloggers. I like Bible Gateway and I like our blog so I thought it was a good fit! But that exchange reminded me of an article that they ran in January of 2014 (I didn’t actually remember the date, but Google helped me find it. Thank you Google.) The title of the post was “Bible Gateway’s Most ‘Bible-Minded’ Cities in Canada” of which our little city of Steinbach was rated #1 in Canada. According to another Bible Gateway post they defined “Bible-Minded” as referring to someone who reads the Bible regularly and believes in the Bible’s accuracy.” (They were adopting the American Bible Society’s definition. You can read the full article here.)
I have to say, this felt good. It’s nice to live in a place that is number one for anything quite frankly, but being Bible-Minded is better, in my opinion that say being number one in corn production or number one in the population of Mennonites. (Although I suspect that being number 1 in Bible-Mindedness is probably linked to the number of Mennonites and their influence in our area. #MennoProud… did I seriously just hash-tag that?) I wish we could put our position one the “Welcome to Steinbach” signs around town. “Welcome to Steinbach: Canada’s Most Bible-Minded City!” But that would be boasting and Mennonites don’t like that… so I’ll just boast a bit on our behalf.
But that was then, and this week I wondered if we would still hold the number 1 spot or whether number 2, Winkler, would have pushed us out by now. (Incidentally, for those of you not from around these parts, Winkler Manitoba is another highly Mennonite community. But the Mennonites on the other side of the river are different. Believe me.) I know that Winnipeg feels the pressure every year to maintain our status as the “Slurpee Capital of the World” (16 years running) and I do my part every single year braving fierce brain freezes. I wonder if Steinbach would feel the pain if we lost our title?
Whether Bible Gateway continues to update their statistics each year or not, I would like to think that for my family we will continue to elevate the Bible to the supernatural status it deserves. And I don’t mean only talk about the Bible in this way, but actually read it and learn to love it because the Author is writ large on every page. Here are some ways that you can elevate the Bible-Mindedness of your family.
First, talk about the Bible. When I was growing up we talked about the Bible. We read from The Daily Bread every morning around the breakfast table and had family devotions from time to time, but the Bible was in our every day language as well. And if you don’t talk about it at least let your kids catch you reading your Bible. My dad didn’t hide when he was doing his devotions and so I saw him spending time in God’s Word. There are many things I find myself saying or doing and I’ll think “Rats, I sound like my dad there…” and sometimes I don’t know how I feel about it. But when I read my Bible and think back to my parents reading their’s, I am grateful that character and habits can be caught as much as taught.
Second, help your kids understand their Bible. Look I am ALL for reading through the Bible, but does a 3rd grader really need to know about sexual purity laws? Um, no. They need to know about Jesus and although I know that I can know God’s heart by reading at any place in the Bible, I’m pretty sure that some parts are over the heads of our kids. Encourage them to read in the Gospels or the Stories of the great men and women of faith in the Bible like Esther, Ruth and King David. Buy them a Bible that they will understand too and don’t worry too much about whether it is a paraphrase, they will catch the heart when they are reading it to know Jesus. And please, help them to set realistic goals that they can succeed in! I have heard countless kids determine in their hearts that they will spend an hour with God every day and I usually told them not to. It’s not that I don’t love their passion, but I know that passion will only carry them so far and that a feeling of accomplishment will carry them farther. So I usually tell kids to spend a bit of time with God each day, and to practice thinking about Him throughout the day and then spend 1 hour a week in concentrated devotions. That could be in one chunk or broken up in to three 20 minutes segments but however it looks, make it realistic so that they can succeed!
Third, attend Church and bring your Bibles along. Have them look up the verses on the PowerPoint and try to follow along with the message. Our kids have become not just Biblically illiterate in some cases but just book ignorant. They don’t know how a book is supposed to work! They don’t know about the Table of Contents or where books of the Bible are. Yikes, it’s kind of embarrassing. My boys and I have learned the books of the Bible backwards and forwards, and they can even tell you what is the 25th book of the Old Testament, right off the top of their heads. We had a great time with that challenge (if you want to read about how we did it, read this post on memorization.) That being said it really is ok if our kids read their Bibles on their iDevices or whatever they are carrying around. There are fantastic app’s that they can use to read and study the Bible. (Bible Gateway has one as well.)
Finally, help your kids to fall in love with Jesus. This morning my heart is just bursting with worship as another teen I met with and have been praying for chose to give his heart to Christ. Ah what a feeling! You had better believe I will be telling my kids about it when I get home. I want them to be as excited about what God is doing as I am and this is why, when you’re excited about Jesus you start to love His Word. It is inevitable. So help your children to fall in love with our great God and they will desire to know Him in His Word!
I hope that the reason Steinbach is the most Bible-Minded city in Canada is because we are actually the Jesus-Minded city in Canada. Don’t you want that for your city? Start with you family! Decide to do one thing, right now that will put them on that track. (And leave your ideas in the comments section!)