Friday, March 5, 2010


By Terrill I. Elniff
Excerpted from God's World Today ("Teacher's Helper")

The secular mind, confronting the Christian school, tends to evaluate what it sees in terms that it can understand. Thus the prevailing view of Christian education is that Christian parents put their children in Christian schools because they are fed up with the problems of the public schools: sex, drugs, immorality, lowered standards, incompetent teachers, secularism, disorder, and violence. But to reason in this way is to overlook a very important aspect of the Christian school movement.

When I began teaching in a Christian school, I remember our headmaster emphasizing from time to time that the Christian education movement is not an "anti-public-school movement." I have grown to understand and appreciate his insight.

Private education is not necessarily Christian education. Religious education is not necessarily Christian education either. These categories are all wrong. The real alternatives are man-centered education over against God-centered education.

If education is humanistic in its perspective, all the trappings of religion won't make it Christian. Baptized humanism is still humanism. Education may be moral, religious, conservative, and competent, and still be humanistic. Schools may have values, standards, rules, and even prayers, and still teach a man-centered curriculum. The one distinguishing mark of a Christian school relates to that one unique reason for Christian education: to gain a knowledge of the world from God's point of view (rather than man's) through the application of biblical presuppositions in every area of the curriculum and school activity.

That is the kernel of Christian education. Everything else is peripheral. Everything else can be duplicated or imitated. Christian education will not cease to be needed just because the public schools clean up their act, as some commentators seem to believe. A past executive director of the National Association of Secondary School Principals has said, "What the Christian schools movement is saying . . . is that public schools have two or three years to do a better job. If public school teachers are moral . . . and don't hide behind one or another legal curtain in dealing with values, then most Christian parents will be happy and they'll go back to teaching Christianity elsewhere, as they have done in the past."

Now, I don't know how to measure "most" Christian parents, but I'm pretty sure there are a lot of parents in the Christian schools movement who are simply refugees from the public schools. They are the ones who can be expected to return to the public schools once the public schools come to grips with their problems. Such Christian parents will go back to public schools because their commitment to Christian education is not positive, but negative, an escape from the modern, secular world.

But there is also an immense number of Christian parents in the movement who don't intend to go back to the public schools even if they become squeaky-clean. They are the ones with a positive commitment to the purposes of Christian education. Their children are in Christian schools because they believe that life must be related to God, and learning must be related to truth. For them, secular and humanistic education is not an option.

The future of Christian education, then, does not depend on the reforms made in the public school systems. It depends, rather, on the relative number of Christian parents who understand the purpose of Christian education. The determination to apply biblical presuppositions to every area of life and learning is what most people don't understand about Christian education. The failure of the secular mind to comprehend this determination indicates that it also does not understand the revolutionary nature of the Christian school movement and the impact it will have on the future of education in this country.


Presentation at Peninsula Bible Church; May 1993; panel discussing issues surrounding parental selection of various educational venues. (We were asked to offer the home school perspective.)

Col. 2:8  “See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.”

We began home schooling in September 1983, and are concluding our 10th year. We call our school, PS-209, a little joke on the New York public schools. PS-209 is short for "Pilgrim School at 209 Cowper Street."

Textbooks from various Christian publishers have served us well. We have primarily used Bob Jones University Press (excellent), some Mennonite textbooks (also quite good), and occasionally, we have devised our own courses for art, art history, etiquette, local history, music appreciation, etc.

We have observed that any parent can successfully instruct their own children if they have lovingly established their parental authority over them. We further believe that parents are mandated by the Lord to instruct their children in a worldview consistent with His own. By this, we mean a worldview that is based on the revealed Word of God - the Bible.   
For instance:
• What is ultimate reality?
• What is the true nature of a human being?
• What is the basis for morality?
• What is the meaning of history

As parents, we believe we are also obligated to teach our four sons to be active contributors to society, politically informed, and to support and provide for their own families when grown. God's people are not to train their children in the ways of the world. Yet they will be trained by the world unless Christian parents recognize that spiritual maturity is a necessity for a child to resist the worldly indoctrination that comes in any non-Christian setting for training. You might ask the Lord to protect your child from these philosophies, but don't lose sight of the fact that parents are the protection God has already provided.

All young students, whether they are five or fifteen, are in the formative years of their lives.  Jesus called attention to the importance of a sure foundation when He pointed out that the house the wise man built withstood the storm because it had been built on a solid rock. (Matt. 7:24-27).  Paul also emphasized that the household of God be built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Jesus Christ Himself as the chief cornerstone (Eph. 2:19-20).  Continuing to apply this metaphor of a house under construction, a child's education is the foundation for his life.

When a one considers the lifelong impact their education will have on a child, a parent has to ask, “Who is sufficient for these things?”

It is estimated that a child in a formal educational group setting receives only 5 adult responses a day, while there will typically be much greater adult/child interaction in the home. It is our belief that most social skills are acquired by training and example; therefore, we try to be careful about who sets those examples for our children because Jesus guarantees that a student "will be like his teacher."* (Luke 6:40)

Having school at home also helps put loving controls on any weakness of character before it takes root. An invested, caring mother and father are able to closely observe these issues as they emerge, and can address them with immediacy. It is a process rather akin to being an arborist. For just as a newly planted tree may require a control string until it is able to stand straight on its own, so a child needs to be trained through corrections and restraints. The many demands of a large school setting precludes the adults involved from a prolonged and finessed response, and as often as not, from even making the observation of the need to intervene.

In our homeschool (and many others), the one-room school house has been the model.
• Younger children, playing or working nearby, learn from the older ones' lessons.
• Older and younger siblings help each other and gain both leadership experience and opportunities to be good team players

Following is our honest (and brief) appraisal of the advantages and disadvantages of homeschooling:


1. Peer pressure is virtually nonexistent, so children are more free to be themselves and develop their own interests, style, likes and dislikes.
• The pressures of a "consumer culture" are also curtailed. Our sons will wear any functional, comfortable clothes or shoes with no thought to the status a designer, style or label may impart. (They do have color preferences, and we've enjoyed watching them develop their individual styles.)  
• They are not pressured to favor any particular form of music.  Our boys like many kinds of music from classical to Beach Boys to current genres.
• No pressures for "gotta' see" this movie or have this video game, etc. (They can enjoy a good old black and white movie from the '30's just as much as the latest appropriate offerings.)

2. No hours of homework, so lots of time for the family to read aloud together.

3. Virtually no childhood stress.

4. Restored childhood, e.g., time to play, work on hobbies, pursue their own interests (music, cycling, electronics, etc.)

5. Time to work and help out at home

6. Socialized mainly by adults

7. Time for helping others (service)

8. Morally superior atmosphere. (I refer as much to teachers, as to other students. Since we file a private school affidavit with the State of California, we receive a monthly notification of fresh new criminals and perverts that are licensed teachers and who may seek employment at our school. There are literally hundreds of new names every month.)

9. The innocence of childhood is preserved.


1. You don't get sick often enough to build-up antibodies to all the many virus circulating.

2. Negative attitudes of fellow Christians. We expected it from the world, but not our friends! Even without a word being spoken, just having made the choice to homeschool appears to be regarded as an attack on the choices others have made.

To summarize, the 4 main benefits we have enjoyed are:

1. Closer family relationships

2. Protection from ungodly peer influence and false teaching

3. Superior education

4. Correctly balanced socialization

Scriptural Influences:

The following scriptures were influential in formulating our theology for the education of our children.  Experience has taught us that you do not convert evil by co-mingling with it.  Our family of six is "in the world" at all times, but we are taking care that our young ones are not being trained to be "of the world" in their formative years. We picture them as young "squires" in training to put on the armor of God and become "knights" in the army of the Lord.  They are not yet equipped for spiritual battle. 

Col. 2:8  "See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ."

I Tim. 6:20  "Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to your care.  Turn away from godless chatter and the opposing ideas of what is falsely called knowledge,"

Josh. 1:8  "Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it."

Deut. 6:6-7  "These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts.  Impress them on your children.  Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up."

1 Cor. 3:19  "For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God's sight."

Eph. 6:4  "Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger; but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord."

Prov. 1:7,8  "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.  Listen my son, to your father's instruction and do not forsake your mother's teaching."

Psm. 1:1  "Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers."

Josh. 23:7-8; 12-13  "Do not associate with those nations which are still among you, neither take thought of the names of their gods, nor swear by them, but cling to the Lord your God as you have until this day. . . . . for if you turn away and join with the rest of these nations which are still among you, intermarrying with them and associating together, be very sure that the Lord your God will not continue to drive back these nations in your behalf.  They will become a trap and a snare to you, a whip in your sides and thorns in your eyes, . . ."

II Cor. 6:14  "Do not be yoked together with unbelievers.  For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common?  Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?"

*Jesus guarantees that a student "will be like his teacher":
Luke 6:40  "A student is not above his teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher."

Prov. 13:20  "He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm."

I Cor. 15:33  "Do not be misled:  "Bad company corrupts good character.'"

I Cor. 10:23    "'Everything is permissible for me' - but not everything is beneficial.  'Everything is permissible' - but not everything is constructive."

Thursday, March 4, 2010


Is it possible that the Holy Spirit of God can dwell within a believer in co-presence with a demon?

Lev. 20:6: “If a person turns to mediums and wizards, whoring after them, I will set My face against that person and will cut him off from among his people.” (God will have no part in anyone who cultivates the occult or offers himself to demons.)

I John 3:8b: “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.” (The Lord came to destroy the devil’s works, not to dwell cozily side-by-side with him or his minions in the soul of a believer.)

II Cor. 6:15,16: “And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? What agreement has the temple of God with idols (demons)? For we are the temple of the living God.” (Believers are the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit. Through the Son, who repeatedly drove demons out of people, the Lord has shown that it is decidedly not His will for His elect to be possessed by demons. The rhetorical questions found in these verses serve to highlight the contrasting natures of God and the devil. Much like opposing magnets, they strongly repel the close presence of one another.)

Luke 11:21,22: “When a strong man fully-armed guards his residence, his belongings are undisturbed; but when One stronger than he attacks and overcomes him, He robs him of his armor on which he depended and distributes his plunder.” (Satan, “the strong man”, was successfully defeated by the Lord God, “One stronger,” and Satan’s former possessions, i.e., people. have been given -- “distributed” -- as a gift to the Son by the Father. It is difficult to conceive of the Father giving His Son a “gift” still flawed by evil.)

Col. 2:15: “He (God) disarmed the (demonic) rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in Him (Christ).” (Again, God is stronger than the devil and demons. He despises them and defeated them. He does not and cannot tolerate their presence.)

Matt. 12:28: “But if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.” (Again, the kingdom of God is characterized by the expulsion of demons, not co-habitation with them.)

II Cor. 4:4b: “The god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” (Satan and his demons blind people to Christ, while the Holy Spirit of God empowers His people to see Christ. Since God’s goals are at cross-purposes with the Devil and his demons, it does not follow that God would be tolerant of their presence in His people.)

John 10:11: “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” (It’s not possible for demons to enter the sheepfold with the Good Shepherd on guard. He protects the sheep from these wolves!)

John 10:28, 29: “I (Jesus) give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hands. I and the Father are One.” (Demons have no hope of stealing God’s people from Him because they do not possess sufficient power to overcome God.)

II Cor. 6:14: “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?” (If God does not desire His people to be united in marriage to unbelieving people, why would He allow a demon to possess them?)

Matt. 6: 24 & Luke 16:13 “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.” (God’s plan is for restoration and wholeness. Satan’s plan is for destruction and schism. Their fundamental purposes are so oppositional, God and Satan cannot co-exist within a soul.)

Luke 11:17b “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and a divided household falls.” (Further illustration of the point established above.)

Who owns what, or where do worlds collide?

Eph. 2:22: “In Him, you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.”
John 14:16: “And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of Truth.”
John 14:23: “Jesus answered him, ‘If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.’” (Believers belong to God. He dwells with them and in them. He has also revealed Himself to be a jealous God, and He is the only being for whom this response is appropriate as all love, worship, and possession rightfully belong to Him.)

Eph. 2:1,2: “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience.” (Unbelievers, i.e., “the sons of disobedience,” belong to Satan. Satan wants to be like God, so he doesn’t share either.)

John 14:30: "I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no claim on Me.” (Satan is the ruler of this world, though this does not include the Kingdom of God and its citizens, God's people. Since believers are clothed in Christ’s identity, Satan no longer has a claim upon them.)

I John 3:10: “By this, it is evident who are the children of God and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.” (Satan has his own children, and God has His own children. There are no “joint custody” children. Based upon this, please consider that if someone says they are a follower of Christ, but do not produce actions and speech that is consistent with righteousness, then in all likelihood, they are not a true believer. Such a one may be one of those “wolves in sheep’s clothing” we have heard so much about.)

II Cor. 4:4b: “The god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” (Satan can blind the people of his kingdom to the good news that peace with God is found through faith in Christ. He does not have authority to do the same in the Lord's people.)

What level of interaction is Satan allowed to have with believers?

Acts 5:3: “But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back for yourself part of the proceeds of the land?” (Satan can’t dictate what we choose to do, but he may plant suggestions and introduce influences.)

Eph. 6:11: “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” (The devil can try to trick us with his wiles, but Jesus has already defeated him. We don’t even have to fight him, we need only to stand the ground already won by our Savior. As pointed out in the verse, we have also been provided with armor which, if put on, leaves believers with no vulnerability to demonic oppression, let alone possession.)

Matt. 13:25,38: “But while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat and went away . . . The field is the world, and the good seed is the children of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one.” (To read whole parable, see verses 24–30 and 36–43.) (Satan can make trouble for the church by planting unbelievers, i.e., “weeds” or “tares”, among the congregation.)

Luke 22:3: “Then Satan entered into Judas Iscariot, who was of the number of the twelve.”
John 6:70: “Jesus answered them, ‘Did I not choose you, the Twelve? And yet one of you is a devil. He spoke of Judas.’ ” (As in the parable of the tares above, Judas, a Satanic "plant," was permitted within the fellowship around Jesus to serve God's purpose, and as Joseph commented concerning his own plight, “God used it for good.” This was not without Christ’s knowledge. Judas was called to join Jesus' entourage, but was not chosen to receive the gift of faith. Although he was selected to be among the original twelve, Judas was not a true believer and is not an example of a demon possessed Christian.)

Acts 19:15: “But the evil spirit answered them, ‘Jesus I know, and Paul I recognize, but who are you?’ ” (To read whole episode, see verses 11-20) (Demons have been allowed knowledge about living people, including with whom they may, and may not, tamper.)

Some obliquely related asides:

Occult: Defined as pertaining to magic, astrology, or any system claiming use or knowledge of secret or supernatural powers or agencies. (Webster’s Dictionary)

Satan’s fall: Satan’s fall from heaven is symbolically described in Isa. 14:12-14 and Ezk. 28:12-18. While these two passages are referring specifically to the kings of Babylon and Tyre, they also reference the spiritual power behind those kings, namely, Satan. Also, see Rev. 12:4.


Purpose and priority are rather foreign concepts to my basic nature. I’ve always been a bit undirected and distractible, not at all goal-oriented, and extremely prone to fads. There are times when "feral" would describe me well. I suspect that I’m not alone in this, and I’ve come think that these tendencies of our human nature are why God often likens us to sheep in the Bible. (We’re just not all that sharp.) I am happy to testify that the Lord, my faithful shepherd, has intervened with His crook to direct me into His purposes and priorities. I further note that His “crook” was used to direct me through the three Great Desperations of my life:

1975: Desperation #1 - I desperately wanted to have a clean heart, and God began to use this desire to drive me to His Word. The memory of my filth remains beyond humbling for me. God has miraculously changed my life’s old, ugly ways into an amazing tool that He often uses to help me perform supernatural feats, like forgiving other people and laughing at myself.

1976: Desperation #2 - When my first child was born, I desperately wanted to be the one to care for him and to rear him. My husband, on the other hand, was concerned about our little family living on one income, and he wanted me to go back to work. I began avidly searching the Bible for a proof text that would validate my desire to be a stay-at-home mom. Silly and immature motivation, certainly, but my God knows me and extended His grace to me. His heart just wants us to show up on the page for blessing. I found so much more than a "proof text" and was led into a deep, life-long interest in the theology of gender.

1976 - 2010: Desperation #3 - The “so much more” (from above) led to a desperate desire to be a godly wife and mother. Certain verses in I and II Kings haunted me. The biographical introduction to each of the kings of Israel and Judah begins, “And his mother was . . .” and then goes on from there to describe each particular king’s character, whether he was godly or did evil. I pictured Judgment Day and my children’s final destination. I knew by then that I couldn’t save them, but I also knew I didn’t need to be part of the problem. I started studying the Bible every afternoon after lunch. When my children would try to claim my time, I would tell them I needed to read what God had to tell me every day, or I wouldn’t be able to be a good mommy to them. Later, I started reading the Word to them, too.

Now that my children are grown, my purpose and priority have shifted. There are only two purposes now, and they are simple: 1) to encourage other women to love Jesus, and 2) to encourage other women to spend time listening to God by reading His Word.


Scriptural Exhortations to be in the Word

Deut. 17:19 Now it (the Law) shall be with him, and he shall read it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the Lord his God, by carefully observing all the words of this law and these statutes.

Josh. 1:8 This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it.

Psalm 19:7 The law of the Lord is perfect, restoring the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.

Psalm 119:11 Thy word I have treasured in my heart that I may not sin against Thee.

Psalm 119:104-105 From Thy precepts, I get understanding; therefore, I hate every false way. Thy word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.

Isaiah 66:2 But to this one I will look, to him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My Word.

2 Timothy 3:15 and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.

2 Timothy 3:16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness.

Acts 17:10-11 And the brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea; and when they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so.


(Presentation transcription at Abundant Life Christian Fellowship Mothers’ Group - January 23, 2002)

Thank you for inviting me to meet with you. I’m privileged to be with the Blessed Ones this morning - the mothers of Abundant Life. As you may know, my topic assignment is "How to Teach the Bible to Children".

To accomplish this, we will first need to establish several fundamental Biblical truths; so let’s begin with what the Bible has to say about the “casual” subject of human nature . . .


The theological term for the state being described in the handout* is Total Depravity; but I like to call this part, "Recognizing Your Child's True Potential."

Sadly, despite the deceptively sweet exterior on a baby, every person born has an inclination toward evil and a heart of hatred toward God. It's hard for us to fully comprehend this, but every newborn baby has the full potential to become the next Hitler, Saddam, or Judas. Succinctly stated, our will may be free, but that freedom exists only within the context of our nature; and our nature is dead in sin from the very beginning.

As a pictorial example of this concept, imagine a hungry horse being offered a dining choice between fresh hay and a juicy steak. Given his horsey-nature, he will always choose the hay. That is what horses want. They are not interested in steak. This is an excellent metaphor for our spiritual nature. Given a choice to live in loving obedience to God or self-willed disobedience, human nature inclines us to always choose rebellion and the self.

Even before birth, the human heart is already programmed for sin and selfishness. It has been passed down the generations through Adam ("Adam begot a son in his own likeness, after his image." Gen. 5:3), so children are born with sinful tastes and an aversion to the things of God, and even to God Himself.

This is the same aversion that caused Adam and Eve to try to hide from the Lord's presence (Gen. 3:8) after they had fallen from innocence. King David famously describes it this way: "I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me," Psalm 51:5; meaning his nature was defiled by sinful tendencies and evil desires from the very moment of his conception.

We look at our wide-eyed little ones and naturally recoil from thinking of them in these terms. They seem chaste, precious, and so innocent; yet they have no native potential for true holiness or love for God. They are merely inexperienced and naive people. What every child really needs is to be born again - - given a heart transplant operation from God, if you will.

If you believe what the Bible has to say about this matter,  you are well on the way to being a successful parent and to preventing your child from "fulfilling his true potential." You, Mom, are the appointed person to provide the first draught of  Living Water for your children to imbibe. You are one to begin the process of their restoration to peace with the Lord.

I have long noticed a simple statement among the histories of the kings of Israel and Judea, one which is repeated over and over. It goes like this:

"So and so (named) was king over Israel, and he reigned for 25 years. His mother was so and so (named);” followed by: “He did what was right in the sight of the Lord.” OR “He did evil in the sight of the Lord."

Through this means, the Word of God demonstrates that mothers clearly have a huge influence on the spiritual life of their children. You are the Lord's choice instrument for their salvation, and your children are your primary mission field. As it says in Romans: "How shall they believe Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?" You are sent as a personal missionary to your children! God Himself has given the responsibility for raising children to parents -- not to schoolteachers, peers, child-care workers, or other people outside the family.

And this brings me to my second point:


As mothers, we need to seriously consider the pattern of motherhood God has prepared for us in His Word.

Every wisdom and blessing you need for your family is in the Word! Our clever and mighty Lord has given His word to us in a format understandable for even the lowliest person, yet deep and complex enough the greatest scholar.

I caution you about spending your precious time reading books about the Bible when, you could be in the Bible itself! As modern mothers, I understand that your time is quite limited; so just as I would tell a physically ill friend not to eat junk, but go for "quality" food, I counsel you to go for the "quality spiritual food", the Bible alone, for your study time.

Here are my suggestions to help get you into the Bible on a daily basis.

1. Remember, you just need to show up on the page! Our Lord will be pleased to honor your commitment to hearing Him by opening His Word to you with understanding.

2. Pick a time for Bible reading and be rigid about it. Tell the children they may not interrupt when you are listening to the Lord. Explain that you need to listen to Him everyday, or you won’t be able to be a good mommy for them. Don’t let anything short of blood or a fire stop you.

3. Be sure to read the Bible openly in front of the children. It demonstrates the importance you place on the time you spend hearing from God.

Personally, I began with "Walk Through the Bible" when my oldest sons were under five. This method entails about 3 chapters, or 35 minutes, a day, with one "free" day every 7 days, so you can catch up if you fall behind. But even at a rate of one chapter per day, you can read the entire Bible once every three years!

It is extremely important that you read the whole Bible, so that you can hear and receive the whole counsel of our unchanging Lord.

4. Do not be presumptuous in your approach to the Word. Always thank God for speaking to you and ask the help of the Holy Spirit to teach you.

5. It is absolutely okay not to “get it” when you read a passage. When I read scripture that I do not understand, I just place a question mark next to it with my pencil. It is one of the major joys of my life to be able to erase those marks as the years go by. It assures me that the Lord is sharing more and more of His heart with me. I'm even happier to add new question marks in places that I thought I had previously understood. Somewhat counter-intuitively, this tells me that I am making progress because you know you don't get it when you don't even have any questions!

6. Just show up, and God will meet you there. You will grow as fast and strong as a Redwood tree.

Listen to what the Lord has to say to us in Deuteronomy:

"These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart."

The core of His leadership for your life (i.e., His commands) will travel to your heart through the reading the Bible!

Okay, now you are ready to teach your children:


"You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up." Deut. 6:6-7

1. Ideally, both mother and father should be doing this, but if your husband does not contribute, you can be faithful and God will honor it in your children.

2. Take your time and be thorough.

3. Bathe your efforts in prayer.

4. Teach them the whole counsel of God, i.e., both Testatments.

5. Do not use any book other than the Bible, particularly after six years of age, and be very careful about Bible "story books", etc., with a child under six. I say this because His Word is truth, grounded in real history; it is not just another library story, or cartoon, or a bedtime tale. It is extremely precious and needs to be presented with seriousness and respect.

Following are some recommendations from my personal experience:

1. Again, as with yourself, pick the same time daily to read the Bible together. This can be before, or after meals, early or late afternoon, evening; whatever fits comfortably into your family time.

2. Plan on approximately 10 - 15 minutes (maximum) for any and all ages, and limit the amount you are going to cover. Don’t forget that the average adult has a 20 minute attention span (less for those of us in short-attention span theater!), so imagine how long the attention span is for a 7 year old!

3. This should be a pleasant, happy time with Mom, not a chore for them or for you. It's not the moment to critique posture, attentiveness, etc. Just pick a comfy place and dog pile for a short reading.

4. Do this five days a week. Consistency is extremely important because you are trying to build a lifetime habit in your children.

5. The NIV translation of the Bible** is nicely segmented topically for short studies and quite easy for children to read and understand. It's also important that you all have the same translation if they will be reading along with you.

6. The most coherent approach is to choose one book of the Bible, and do that book start-to-finish. For instance, you can do one Old Testament book, then a gospel, followed by another Old Testament book, and then an epistle, etc. In our home studies, I found it helpful to do all of the history of Israel in one piece.

Here is a list of all books we managed to cover together:

Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, I & II Samuel, I & II Kings, I & II Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Jeremiah, Daniel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Matthew, Luke, John, Acts, Romans, I & II Corinthians, Ephesians, Philippians, Galatians, Colossisans, I & II Thessalonians, I & II Timothy, Titus, Philemon, Hebrews, James, I & II Peter, I John, Revelation.
(Those in bold I managed to do at least twice or more.)

7. Impress upon your children that Bible reading is the most important thing of the day. Nothing else should be allowed to interfere. Its more important than laundry, the dentist, soccer, etc.

8. Pray aloud that the Holy Spirit will teach you all, and thank the Lord for His Word.

9. If the Lord has not given you any insights before you begin, just read the passage. It is enough for the Word to speak for Itself.

10. As the reading ability of your children matures, have them read the passage silently before you start. This will improve everyone's reading skills, comprehension, and prove to your children that everyone can read the Bible. You are trying to nurture a habit in them.

11. Always bear in mind that children forget everything constantly; therefore, repeating a book every 3 to 4 years is a good idea.


1. At about age 8 or 9, require your children to "read their age" daily, apart from your family study (perhaps over summer when school is not in session). This means a 6 year old will read 6 verses a day, a 15 year old will read 15 verses, and your 37 year old husband will read 37. The children should be reading from a different book than the family (e. g., you are in Luke, they read Acts).

2. Show the children it is okay not to understand everything, and encourage them to enter their own question marks (pencil) in their Bibles, just as you do.

3. We memorized whole chapters, such as Romans 12, some Psalms, etc. The beatitudes are also a good choice. It can take months to accomplish, but that’s okay.

4. We also sang a hymn everyday (a capella) before Bible study. We would sing one verse every day for a week (5 days). The next week, we would add a second verse, singing 2 verses daily until, at the end of the month, we could sing 4 verses of a hymn by heart. Our family can barely carry a tune, but our singing really improved, and we learned a lot of truth as we memorized scores of hymns.

HOW IT ALL CAME OUT (in our real life):

The Bible reading plan above was followed in our family for over 14 years, from the time Nate was seven until Ezra, the baby, was in eighth grade.

During high school, I am sad to say, we only had sporadic family times in the Bible, usually after dinner, partially because our sons were attending a Christian high school that had Bible study every day. They have since graduated university, grown-up, got jobs, and some are married.

We continue to have long running debates in our home on subjects such as: The salvation of infants and the mentally disabled? Does God submit Himself to exisence in time? What does it mean and how are we created in the image of God? How minutely involved in our lives is God? To the need a “parking space” level? Does God have a preferred method of disposal of our dead bodies? Burial? Cremation? Who has sovereignty over the womb? Are whole nations judged? And so forth. Although I didn't think anything was particularly happening during all those years reading the Bible together, our sons certainly got enough grounding to sustain some pretty heavy discussions. And the Lord stays with them.

All is of and from the Lord, and He just dazzles me with His goodness!

You cannot save your children. Salvation is between the Lord and your child. But in this matter, when you stand before the Lord, my desire is that He will say to you "Well done, my good and faithful servant."

* See blog post “WHAT THE WORD SAYS ABOUT OUR NATURE” 11/22/2009
** I loathe the red-letter versions because by emphasizing only the words of Jesus, they passively imply that the rest of the Word is not quite as important. Sadly, current publishers don't seem to produce anything else, so I get used editions cheaply on-line. Also, I urge you to stay away from any Bibles with pictures. (More on this in another post.)

Wednesday, March 3, 2010


WHO: To a certain youth pastor
WHAT: Another letter
WHEN: A long time ago
WHERE: Another church

Our sons were so pleased to have you speak at their school. Thank you so very much for giving your time and bringing a word from our Lord the students.

Thanks also for your Communiques. It's great to know how to plan and what to pray about. We also appreciate the insights into your thoughts and ministry as you share them monthly. One aspect of your recent letter however, although quite graciously and gently stated, caused us some concern.

You indicated that you think it might be appropriate for parents to cease requiring their children's attendance at the corporate worship at some point in time. You even verbalized this to the teenagers in the Sunday class. We don't believe this perspective is of the Lord, and we humbly hope to show you another viewpoint.

1. The Lord has pointedly commanded parents to teach their children about Him, (Deut. 4:5-9; Deut. 6:1-9; Deut. 11:18-21; Deut. 32:44-47; Psm. 78:1-8; Prov. 6:20-23; Eph. 1:4; Prov. 22:6), and He wants the priorities of every family centered on the implanting of scripture (James 1:21; Joshua 1:8; I Tim. 4:16). This certainly includes attending church to hear the preaching of the Word and to worship the Lord (Acts 2:42; I Thes. 2:11-12; Heb. 10:24-25; Rom. 10:14). Throughout the Old Testament, immediate, generational, spiritual declension always follows the neglect of God's Word. (See Joshua; Judges, esp. 2:10-15; the lives of the kings of Judah.) Parents are not obsolete at the teen time of life. They play a vital, irreplaceable role in the training of the next generation. Have a care not to short-circuit the leadership God has planned for these young people.

2. Children, including teenage children, need to obey their parents (Eph. 6:1-3). By placing an emphasis on their "feelings" in your comments, you have elevated the emotions to a position of higher importance than doing what is right in God's sight (Prov. 14:12).

3. The third (unspoken) issue is rebellion. In your letter, you expressed sympathy toward the teenagers' feelings of rebellion, which reflects a very prevalent attitude in the world. While teenage rebellion is so common today as to be almost universal (even among Christians), we still need to ask, "What does God say about it?" Children, even adult children, who rebelled against their parents were dealt with most severely under the Law of Moses (Deut. 21:18-20). We aren’t saying young rebels should be put to death, but we are saying the rebellion should not be encouraged.

In I Tim. 3:4 and Titus 1:6, an elder is to be selected "if his children are under control with complete respect" and "he has believing children who are not charged with being profligate or unruly". Additionally, parents who allowed their children to rebel were given the example of Eli. Although a priest of God and supposedly a godly man, he suffered not only his own death, but also the deaths of his sons, as well as the permanent removal of his family from the priesthood, because he did not restrain his sons.

The Lord takes the rebellion of youth very seriously. I Samuel 15:23 says, "Rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft." It appears to us that your remarks to the young people implied a right to rebel against their parents' spiritual leadership. In fact, although they may not enjoy doing their parents' wishes, it is God's will that they do them. It is not because of parental merit or the "office" of parenthood that the young people should respect and obey their parents, it is because God has placed those particular parents over them, and their obedience to their parents acknowledges the Lord's sovereign wisdom. Even more so, God has promised to bless those who honor and obey their parents. This is what needs to be emphasized to teenagers.

Please consider if you are inadvertently engendering a spirit of rebellion in our youth. Could you be a stumbling block to these "little ones"? Their hearts need truth; don’t impede them from hearing it. "So faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ." (Rom. 10:17) You are reacting to the response of their sin nature, and rightly you can expect the Word to cause stumbling (I Pet. 2:6-8); but also expect the preaching of the Word, the hearing of the Word, to bring grace and redemption among these teenagers.

Please pray for us to be wise parents, loving, kind, and gentle, but not intimidated in our role as leaders. We love you in the Lord and ask Him to bless you, also.

"...and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more, as you see the day draw near." Hebrews 10:24-25


WHO: To a certain youth pastor
WHAT: Letter
WHEN: A long time ago
WHERE: Another church

I attended the High School Sunday school class this week with some other parents. Unfortunately, my husband, Steve, was ill, but hopes to attend in the upcoming Sundays. Your topic, "Sex and Dating" is one in which we parents have a tremendous responsibility before the Lord with our young people. We really appreciate the newsletter and insights you send to us, and it is especially helpful to know where the teaching will be focused for backup at home. We are also very eager to pray for you "in knowledge".

Your introduction was terrific, and an excellent springboard to the proper context for a sexual relationship. Too often we Christians are perceived by teens as being only negative about sex, but you were so balanced and positive, it gave me real joy to know my son is hearing this from a man he respects. Thanks, Brother!

There were several things you mentioned, however, which troubled me. These were infant salvation and age-based, moral accountability. Scripture makes it clear that we are all born with a heart of enmity toward God. (See Psalm 51:5.) This is the "condition" which makes us unrighteous, and we are born this way. Our acts of sin are only "symptoms" of the condition. Once we die, we are neither young or old, we are only a soul alive to God, or dead to God.

I certainly do believe the Lord can, and does, save the unborn and infants based upon scripture describing John the Baptist and the prophet Jeremiah. God may cause all of the unborn to be born-again, or not; He doesn't say. What He does say in His Word is that we are saved through the Lord Jesus, only. (See Acts 4:12; Acts 10:43.) To claim all infants go to heaven is, in fact, another gospel that claims salvation for those who die young, based entirely on the merit of youth. (This also applies to the notion of an "age of accountability.") Besides being inconsistent with scripture, these teachings would seem to offer a desperate teen a good reason to abort an unwanted baby. (It's for the baby's good because it won't have a chance to sin!) These concepts might also be used to justify a suicide. ("I'll kill myself before I fall to the pressures of drugs, sex, etc.)

I have much to learn from you, so I would not presume to instruct you. I'm really just thinking aloud here and writing on my husband’s advisement. If you, or any of the other pastors discuss this, please share your thoughts with us, too. We lost an infant son some years ago and searched the Bible to see what the Lord has to say about infant deaths. We saw no specific answer concerning their spiritual destination. Yet, we found we were able to trust our baby to the Lord through the wonderful and comforting knowledge of His revealed character. It really is true that He is sufficient for every trial.

Be confident that we are praying for you, and others are too. We have decided to have parent prayer meetings every month, instead of every other. The next one will be February 12th.


My son, if your heart is wise,
then my heart will be glad;
My inmost being will rejoice
when your lips speak what is right.

Prov. 23:15-16

THESE are a few scriptures which relate the Lord's wisdom concerning those things to which we should not submit our minds (or the minds of those for whom we care).

Psalm 101:3 I will set before my eyes no vile thing.

I Thes. 5:22 Keep away from evil in every form.

Colosians 2:8 See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.

I Timothy 6:20 Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to your care. Turn away from godless chatter and the opposing ideas of what is falsely called knowledge.

Psalm 1:1 Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers.

II Corinthians 10:4b-5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

Ephesians 5:11-12 Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret.

Can a book or film be regarded as a "companion" (at least in the manner in which it has access to our inner being)?

Proverbs 13:20 He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm.

I Corinthians 15:33 Do not be misled: "Bad company corrupts good character."

Rescue those being led away to death;
Hold back those staggering toward slaugh

Proverbs 24:11


Sola scriptura means "by scripture alone" in Latin. It is a foundational principle of the Reformation and describes the doctrine that the Bible is the only infallible and inerrant authority for Christian faith. It is the only source needed for the conduct of life,  knowledge of God, and as a regulator of worship practices. Scripture is self-authenticating, clear to the rational reader, its own interpreter, and sufficient of itself to be the final authority of Christian doctrine. This is because every word of it is, because of verbal inspiration by the Holy Spirit, the direct, immediate word of God and carries His full authority. All other authorities are subordinate to, and are to be corrected by, this written word of God known as the Bible.

Following are just a few of the verses that persuade me of this truth:

Romans 15:4
For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, that through perseverance and the encouragement of the scriptures, we might have hope.

Matthew 4:4
But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.’”

II Timothy 3:15-17
. . . and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.

II Peter 1:19-21
And so we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts. But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.

Luke 24:27,44
And beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures.  . . Now He said to them, “These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.”

Ephesians 2:20
. . . having been built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone.

Galatians 1:8
But even though we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to that which we have preached to your, let him be accursed.

Psalm 119:105
Thy word is a lamp to my feet,
And a light to my path.

Psalm 119:130
The unfolding of Thy word gives light;
It gives understanding to the simple.

Matthew 5:18
For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass away from the Law, until all is accomplished.

Isaiah 8:20
To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because they have no dawn.

John 5:39
You search the Scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is these that bear witness of Me.

Colossian 3:16
Let the word of Christ dwell richly within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.