By guest authors Taryn and Mirren Martin
Contrary to anticipating today’s popular “norm” that one’s children will rebel once they hit their teen years, our parents decided to homeschool us in order to take preventative steps to not let us fall prey to that possibility. Their plan was to instill a deep love and trust in the Lord Jesus into our hearts and minds. The Lord wants your children to not rebel and love Him even more than you do, so what measures can parents take to instill a deep love for Jesus in their “little arrows” (Psalm 127)?
To train us to love the Lord Jesus, our parents proactively looked to the future in prayer and planning for ways to avoid certain pitfalls that they saw other Christian youth embracing. They firmly believed that teen rebellion wasn’t Biblical and should never be considered “normal” for a Christian young person. They realized that if a deep knowledge and love for the Lord was taught, and each child daily bathed in prayer, by God’s grace, rebellion could be replaced with a love for the Lord and His Word.
“And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up” (Deut. 6:7). “Therefore shall ye lay up these my words in your heart and in your soul. … And ye shall teach them your children, speaking of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, when thou liest down, and when thou risest up” (Deut. 11:18-19).
With these verses in mind, they purposefully planned for our future in several ways.
Plan to base all teaching on Scriptural principles
The foundational teaching in our home was based on 1 Corinthians 6:20, “For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.” Our parents taught us that if we did everything out of a love for the Lord (Who had bought us with so great a price!) and with the motivation to “please Jesus” in all we did, then we would never have to worry about pleasing our parents — that would happen automatically! This accountability moved our motivation for obedience above wanting to please Dad and Mom to the more weighty impact of obeying and loving our infinitely loving Heavenly Father and His inspired Word. In our case, this thought process helped to lift the desire to obey above emotions of the moment directed in frustration at a person, to “If that is what the Bible says, then I want to do this to please the Lord.”
All of us can be “destroyed for lack of knowledge” (Hosea 4:6). To help us understand Who we were giving our love and obedience to, our parents spent a lot of time explaining the character and nature of our loving Lord so we would understand how infinite He was compared to our finiteness. We learned about the different names of God and His care for His people throughout history and memorized verses about His nature.
One of the most impactful of these verses was Proverbs 15:3, “The eyes of the LORD are in every place, beholding the evil and the good.” God’s Word let us know that anything Dad and Mom “missed” was before the eyes of the Lord! There were no secrets before an omnipotent and omnipresent God! By God’s grace, this truth made a huge impact on us both.
Pre-decide on a plan of action
To help instill a love and respect for the Lord in us, Dad and Mom pre-decided to do several things. First, from the time we were very young, Scripture memory was a large part of our youth. Mom diligently typed out 3×5 cards with our current Scripture memory passages and always had them in her purse, ready to pull out at any stop light, grocery store line, or time-consuming event in our day. This not only gave us a grasp of what the heart of the Lord really was (Psalm 1, Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 13, Colossians 3, 2 Corinthians 4, and James 1 were among the first character-molding chapters we memorized) but also prepared us with Biblical answers to daily decisions or trials. Chapters specifically applying to areas of life where we were struggling were “strangely” always the ones chosen, and “surprisingly” many of those pressing issues we were struggling with started to melt away as we put God’s Word and His principles into practice. Psalm 119:11 says, “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.”
Second, along with the specific Scripture memory targets, our parents very purposefully chose a passage of Scripture to be the illustration of our family’s goal in life — Colossians 1:9 -14, with the target verse being 1:10. This has especially been our Dad’s prayer for us every day since we were small. Nearly all young children will respond to gentle, loving instruction based on God’s Word, because children have been created to love, forgive, trust, and not doubt at that age. Knowing Dad was consistently praying Colossians 1:10 for us all made a profound impact, “That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God.”
Third, to help us learn to love and trust the Lord Jesus, our parents taught us to spend time in His Word daily so that we could also develop a personal relationship with Him. From the time we were very young, our parents pre-decided that we would read the Bible daily as a family. Through these times, they would bring the Word alive through explanations, insights, and applications. Sometimes there was laughter (we serve the God who created the emotions of joy and happiness!), but other times it was seriously studying a wrong action that did not please the Lord and bringing the biblical answer to the forefront. These times instilled a deep respect for the Bible as the ultimate authority in all of life’s situations.
To help us understand more of a practical knowledge of God’s love and care for His children (which can in turn trigger an even greater amount of love and honor back to Him), Dad and Mom spent hours reading missionary biographies and even Foxe’s Book of Martyrs to us. Here we met life-changing Christian examples of faith like George Muller, Hudson Taylor, and others. Through the examples of Muller and Taylor never explicitly telling others of monetary needs, we made the same decision as a family. Almost nothing could have been more life-changing as young children then when our parents would let us know some new economic “crisis” that had assailed us, but that we could trust the Lord to provide for our every need.
Our parents had made a commitment to no debt of any kind before we were born and by the grace of God, even through the very sparse years when Dad was in seminary, we have never broken that pledge. It has been life-changing for us all. During a financial need, they would bring us together, share what we needed to pray for, and we would pray in faith that the Lord would provide. As young children, we saw answers to prayers that to this day show us the merciful and truly miraculous provision of our loving Lord! We were able to see that we serve a real God Who hears and answers the prayer of faith. In each situation where we saw God’s provision, our parents would remind us that “this is how we know God is real.” We would then put some small item representing our answer to prayer in our “Stones in the Jordan Cabinet” in the living room. This cabinet is a reminder of our God’s loving and detailed provision for our needs, a daily reminder of His care for us today and in the future, as well as a testimony to all who enter our house.
What did we learn from all this? The answer for both of us is that we know God is real because we have a personal relationship with Him as our Savior and Redeemer. Because of this, we have unshakable faith in His infallible Word and its promises for us. Even if our family had not seen a lifetime of answered prayers, we would still have faith and trust in Who He says He is. Homeschooling provided the perfect protected platform for Dad and Mom to emphasize all the character qualities of our Creator and Savior, Jesus Christ, and to thus instill a deep love and devotion to Him in us from a very early age.
As Mark 12:30 reminds us, “And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.”