Posts tagged ‘Walking with God’

January 28, 2014

Why I’m Still Teaching Bible (and homeschooling highschool)

by Belinda Letchford

Why I'm still teaching Bible (and homeschooling highschool)

 

Helping our children grow in their knowledge and relationship with God is one of our primary goals as a parent.  We want our children to know God and to know him personally.  To that end we have not only tried to model a life where Jesus is central, but we have also tried to show and teach our children the importance of reading God’s word, the Bible.

  • We have encouraged our children, once they could read, to have personal quiet time where they read the Bible, think, memorise, and pray each day.
  • During the primary school years we had family devotions at the beginning of our day, during this time we learnt to read, think and pray as a group, and it was a part of our family to think about the same Bible passage together.
  • We also had Bible study as a part of our homeschool day, where we studied the Bible, both as a text and as the living word for our hearts.

So now that my kids are in highschool what happens now?

  • Each of my kids – regardless of whether they are homeschooled or not – are responsible for having their personal quiet times.  This is their issue, not mine, their relationship and though I remind them of the importance of this as a discipline (because sometimes it is hard to do), I leave it up to them and their desire to grow closer to Jesus.
  • We don’t have family devotions – sometimes I wish we did – but it is too hard to find times when everyone can come together on a daily basis.  But the word of God is central to our conversations all through the day and regularly at evening meal times.
  • We also like to join with others in studying God’s word:  our kids have joined in with a mid-week, evening Bible study held in our home, Jess helps lead a young girls Bible study, which Naomi goes to (and Daniel hopes a young boys Bible study is going to start this year).
  • And we still have Bible study as a part of our homeschool day, 1 hour 3x week.

Even in though our two homeschool students are in highschool years, I am still teaching Bible study.  Though they are independent in their other studies, this is the one subject that I maintain as a subject that I teach.  Studying the Bible is more than a school subject; it is a book that will shape our children’s hearts (tweet this).  It will shape their belief system, their Why I’m Still Teaching Bible (and homeschooling highschool) character, their will, their emotions and passions.   Reading the Bible and knowing its contents will not change your life, it is as you respond to the truths that you are learning about that you will be changed.  This is why I want to work through this with my kids – not leave them on their own.  It is more than a school subject. 

One of the verses that is a constant thread in our parenting is the ‘great commission’, Matthew 28:19, 20b – Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.  Our children are our first disciples – they are the first people that I am responsible towards to teach them all that Jesus has commanded, and to teach them to obey his words.

To teach someone to obey Jesus isn’t like being in an army and learning to obey the drill sergeant.  Jesus wants us to choose to follow him, to love him and out of that love to obey him.  This means our role as one who makes disciples is to help our disciple-ees love and desire to obey Jesus.  We tend to have this mindset with young converts outside of our family and leave our own kids to grow on osmosis.  This is not right!  Our kids are those God has given us to disciple.

This is why I teach Bible.  It is a discipleship subject and though you can grow by reading books on various subjects and by studying the Bible by yourself, having a real life older-in-the-faith person walking along side you is so much better.  This is what I want to be for my children.

What to teach:

Primary school years tended to be about the Bible story – what the Bible had to say and how it applied to them.  We focused on their heart, in recognising that they were sinners, and needed a saviour.  We taught how to respond to life in a way that brings glory to God.   There was a mix between knowledge and heart response.

In the highschool years though, they know the story, they know the sequence of events, the key players, the outcomes, the lessons to be learnt.  Not to say they know it all, but they have a general understanding.  So our focus is on how to study God’s word and what tools we can use.  We dig deeper into topics that are of interest to them, or we find answers to the questions that they have.  We look at being able to defend our faith, and seeing how our belief in Jesus affects every area of life – not just as a child, but it also affects every area of adult life they are about to walk into.

I don’t have a set curriculum planned out for Bible study, though I carefully choose resources that are going to help me serve my objectives for my family at any given time.  Though I use a book or lesson plan as the basis of our lessons it is important to be prepared enough so that I can speak into the subject matter from my own heart, from my own perspective.  It is helpful for the kids to see that what we are learning about has been true in my life – or if it hasn’t been true, I am working on it.  This is what it means to disciple someone – you share your love for Jesus with someone else.

When my kids were younger my goal was always to at least get our family devotions done – if interruptions happened after that then I knew we had done the important thing.  These days, with the changes that happen with an older family my heart is still the same:  I want to protect our Bible Study time – regardless of what else happens.

May 12, 2013

Sharing Links

by Belinda Letchford

 

Here are a few places I’ve been online over the last week or so.

Students are Speed Geeking  I asked myself the question – what could my kids teach me?

Listen with your Eyes  Do you multi-task with God?

I’ve got to dig into this some more … DIY Challenges (good ideas for Daniel’s productive time)

Top 10 Charlotte Mason Sites

O.T. Mom Learning Activities

Family Time

March 21, 2013

Easter Lessons for Big Kids

by Belinda Letchford

 

Photo credit to: Lamnee @ www.freedigitalphotos.net

Photo credit to: Lamnee @ http://www.freedigitalphotos.net

It is coming up to Easter and I’m starting to see lots of cute ideas for learning activities and lesson plans based to teach young kids about the death and resurrection of Jesus.  But what to do with older kids – they are a bit beyond making a tomb garden, they know about the wordless book, and they’ve made Easter/Resurrection Lapbooks .

The search starts with knowing what your purpose is.  When the kids were little I wanted to use this time in our calendar to focus on the truths that Jesus did indeed come to earth, was without sin, and he then died on the cross and rose from the dead in order to restore our ongoing relationship with God.  There are so many resources and ideas available to teach young kids these important truths.  And it works repeating it year after year, maybe with a slight twist or expansion because the kids are being grounded in Bible knowledge and understanding.

But what about when they get older?  I’m not saying my kids know it all, but when you’ve studied the same things for many many years, it is hard to stay focused and really ‘learn’ anything.  What is my purpose for doing “Easter” studies with my older kids?  Some years I’ve not been able to articulate a purpose and our studies have flundered.  This year I have a purpose – want to make the knowledge of the story – the history – personal, to make it about ‘me’ (for each of my children and for Peter and myself as well.)

Here are the resources that I’ve chosen to use this year:

15 chapters (one a day) as we look at the gift of the cross and all that Jesus did for us.  All because he loves us - and chose us.

15 chapters (one a day) as we look at the gift of the cross and all that Jesus did for us. All because he loves us – and chose us.

 

Based on knowledge of ancient Jewish holidays and customs, this DVD probes the true depth of the Easter story as it begins 2,000 years earlier with a simple promise between a man called Abraham and Almighty God. God’s keeping of that promise reveals a beautifully intricate masterpiece of love for human kind--love fully realized centuries later in Jesus’ resurrection and his gift of eternal life.

Based on knowledge of ancient Jewish holidays and customs, this DVD probes the true depth of the Easter story as it begins 2,000 years earlier with a simple promise between a man called Abraham and Almighty God. God’s keeping of that promise reveals a beautifully intricate masterpiece of love for human kind–love fully realized centuries later in Jesus’ resurrection and his gift of eternal life.

It's a story that's captivated the imagination of many generations. Mourning the death of Jesus, two first-century travellers were joined by a mysterious stranger. Over the next few hours, the stranger revealed many mysteries that lay hidden in the ancient Scriptures. Soon, the purpose of Jesus' life became clear...and the travellers' sadness turned to great joy.

It’s a story that’s captivated the imagination of many generations. Mourning the death of Jesus, two first-century travellers were joined by a mysterious stranger. Over the next few hours, the stranger revealed many mysteries that lay hidden in the ancient Scriptures. Soon, the purpose of Jesus’ life became clear…and the travellers’ sadness turned to great joy.

 

This is a contemporary worship music cd – we are familiar with some of the songs – we will have a few lessons where we take a song and read/study the words, and make sure we know what we are singing about.  Lessons aside it will be good to have the house full of music that makes us reflect on Jesus.

This is a contemporary worship music cd – we are familiar with some of the songs – we will have a few lessons where we take a song and read/study the words, and make sure we know what we are singing about. Lessons aside it will be good to have the house full of music that makes us reflect on Jesus.

 

We will read “He Chose You” after dinner most nights.  With the DVDs and CD we will watch/listen to a segment each of our study days and discuss what we learn and record it in someway – probably a notebook page or blog post.    We may well not get through all these resources before Resurrection Sunday– but that doesn’t matter – we are simply using the corporate celebration and time of worship as a reminder to focus on the foundations of our faith – we will continue with this study until we’re done.

Read about Activities we’ve done other years (big and little kids) on my website:  Lifestyle Homeschool – Easter / Resurrection Sunday

February 25, 2013

20 Things We’ve Learnt in 20 years

by Belinda Letchford
family 20 years

We celebrated 20 years with a family dinner on our veranda.

This year we celebrate being in our town for twenty years; it well and truly makes us locals!!   We have grown so much in those 20 years, as you do; our family has grown, our understanding of God’s purposes has grown, our passions and the opportunities that God has given us has grown.  So much has changed.  So I started to think – 20 things we’ve learnt in 20 years….

In 20 years:

  1. We’ve learnt to protect our marriage in the midst of a busy lifestyle – and a lifestyle that involves a lot of travel.   We’ve learnt the importance of being on the same page – of heading in the same direction – of trusting each other – of supporting and helping each other.
  2. We’ve learnt the importance of teaching the heart (the beliefs, passions, emotions, will) not the behaviour as we parent our four children.
  3. We’ve learnt who we want to be as individuals and as a family; our family vision is defined and yet always growing, giving us purpose in our days – that out of our personal relationship with Jesus and the consequent desire for godly character in all areas of our life, others will know God and His purpose.
  4. We’ve learnt to be resourceful with the things that we do have, instead of wishing for the things that a bigger town would give us.   Contentment comes from within, knowing your world is right with God, not from material wealth or success.
  5. We’ve learnt to build relationships and focus on the work of Christ rather than personal preferences for worship.
  6. We’ve learnt to trust God as our provision and God has provided at every turn.  When we first arrived we often prayed for rent/electricity money – and God provided.  God has opened doors for Peter to work off farm, and we have truly been blessed.
  7. We’ve learnt to set up home, either a caravan, a rental, or our own, so that it can be used to bless our family and others.
  8. We’ve learnt to say goodbye to friends and make new friends – we live in a transient town, people come and go – and yet we’ve stayed.  It is easy to block your heart from new friendships but when I look back on the friends that I’ve had and the impact they’ve had in my life, I would certainly be poorer, if I didn’t keep opening my heart and life  to new friends.
  9. We’ve learnt to step up into opportunities, and not to wait for others to do it – if God puts it in your hand, run with it.
  10. We’ve learnt to be responsible stewards of what we have.  The farm has seen many changes over the years – from intensive cattle grazing, to seed production, sugar cane and these days Sandalwood plantation.
  11. We’ve learnt to be hospitable whether our space is small or big.
  12. We’ve learnt to dig into God ourselves – to feed ourselves and to then encourage others.  The depth of my relationship with God is dependent on how much time I spend with him, personally.
  13. We’ve learnt to rely on God as we homeschooling – so many times I have had no idea where to turn to next.  And though it is easy to jump online and research I have found myself praying first.  The number of times an answer has turned up without my effort is amazing.
  14. We’ve learnt that we need others in our life.  One such situation where we depended on others to help us was when Naomi was sick.   Our friends helped us with looking after Josh and Jess – sometimes in the middle of the night, they brought meals and helped with housework, they were an extra pair of hands, they stood by us in prayer.
  15. We’ve learnt the importance of the local church rather than the denominational church –  from the moment we came to town we built relationships with people in different churches.  It has been a joy to see this develop across the town, so that now we can say there is a local church – Christians sharing life together (though we may all go to different churches on Sunday.)
  16. We’ve learnt to make our own fun: family nights, potlucks, camping, waterholes, video nights
  17. We’ve learnt to be a blessing to others as others have blessed us – The idea that often you can’t thank everyone who has contributed to your life enough but you can learn from the thoughtfulness and generosity shown to you and live that way yourself  as you interact with others.
  18. We’ve learnt to communicate the things on our heart as we talk to other parents and as I begin to write:  a blog, a website, a newsletter, a book.
  19. We’ve learnt to encourage others and to walk along side of them as we determine to walk in God’s ways in all of life together.
  20. We’ve learnt the importance of passing on family faith stories – we want our children to know that the God who has been faithful to us, is the God who does not change, and He will be faithful to them too.

 

We love living in the north of Australia, we love our town – it truly is home.  And we expect to continue to learn these things and many others in the years to come.

January 9, 2013

7 Keys for Discipleship Learning #6: Bible First

by Belinda Letchford

 

This post has been an extra day in coming as I pondered the next key.  Was it to teach Biblical worldview, was it to teach our kids to think – then it dawned on me – no, the most important thing in terms of structured lessons we can teach our kids is the Bible.  Bible first.

Bible first means two things

  1.  Our Bible lessons are the primary lesson for the day – regardless of what else happens
  2. As we teach other things we refer to, and depend on, what the Bible says

In our family we have specific timeslots where our relationship with Jesus and our learning from Bible is our main focus

  1. Our personal devotion times – a time where each individual connects with God on a daily basis – they may read the Bible, pray, memorise scripture, journal their thoughts, read a devotional or a book, listen to worship music, dig deep into a study.
  2. Family devotion times – this is where we come together as a family and learn together what God’s word says.  (On a personal note:  we are struggling to find reality in this aspect at the moment with changing family dynamics – but it is my heart)
  3. Bible study time – this is a part of our focus/school routine where we have studied the overview of the Bible as well as specific themes.  As our children have graduated from homeschool we encourage them to continue this discipline though it isn’t as consistent – just like in our life deep study isn’t always consistent
  4. Mid week Bible study – as our children have grown older they have joined our mid-week Bible study which is open to other people

We also have times in our family life where the Bible is referred to, not because we have planned a lesson, but because the word of God is our reference point in all things. For example:

  1. Family meal times as we discuss different issues and topics – what does God have to say?
  2. When we have attitudes or behavioural issues – what does God have to say, not in a sin/judgment way, but rather how does God tell a Christian to walk?
  3. As we watch movies and read books, we ask ourselves, what does God say about these things?  How should we react in these circumstances?
  4. When someone has a relational issue they are struggling with or a physical challenge – what does God say to you about this?
  5. When they have a choice to make, what does God say?

What we believe will always direct our actions.  If our children know and understand God’s word, if they believe it, it will direct their choices and actions.

I have hidden your word in my heart

that I might not sin against you.

Psalm 119:11

Though there are many resources out there to help us teach the Bible, the most powerful resource is your own heart for God and his word.  We need to be students of the Word ourselves, and then we can teach from our passion and desire to know God more.

 

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